I don’t know about you, but for this caveman, there’s nothing worse than getting so close to the green and then blowing it on a bad chip. Chipping is one of the hardest and most crucial skills to master when it comes to golf. I’m sure more than one RockHead out there has hit two great approach shots to land you near the green only to blow it on a lackluster chip. And when you think about it, it kinda makes sense. When we go out to work on our game, we typically do one of two things: go to the driving range or go to the putting green. Our drives and our putting gets worked on quite a bit, but who amongst us plops down in the sand traps to get a little practice time with our wedges?
So how exactly are we supposed to get the tuning up that we so desperately need when it comes to chipping? Good ol’ Scratch here is willing to share some of my tips and tricks for great chips! Here are a few techniques that are easy to learn and master when it comes to whipping out the wedges:
- For your basic chip (which you’ll use in practically any situation around the green), the ball should be in the middle of your stance. Keep your stance about a shoulder length apart. You can chip using the wrists or using the shoulders. Practice both to see which one feels more comfortable. The most important thing to remember when chipping is to keep your head down until after you hear the ball hit the green. Looking up prematurely can cause your stroke to be unbalanced.
- When you’re on a fast green or if the flag is close by, place the ball in the back of the stance and aim about six to seven feet below the hole. Lean forward (with your body and your club). Use a lob wedge or a sand wedge for this one and make sure to have a good descending blow on the ball. If you divot on the first few practice shots, that’s fine – hitting down on the ball hard will create a lot of spin. This spin will allow the ball to check up before the hole and run along right next to it.
- If you’ve got a lot of green to cover (like if the flag is on the opposite side of the green), you can actually whip out a nine iron. For this shot, you need to determine where to aim and how far to take the club back. Since you’re using a different club, you need to take the club back less than you would normally and aim short of the flag. This’ll take some getting used to, but chipping with a nine iron – once you’ve mastered the technique – can get you out of some pretty hairy situations (and as a caveman, I know all about hairy).
- If you have something in between yourself and the green (like, say, a bunker, a tree, a water hazard, etc), then you need to use a “flop shot.” This one’s a little bit tricky, so you will need to practice. For this one, put the ball inside the left heel (for right handed golfers). Open up your stance so that your feet are aiming five to ten yards to the left of your target. Open the clubface so that it is aimed toward the flag. Make sure to keep it open throughout your entire swing. This’ll take some getting used to, but it’s a great tool to have in your arsenal when faced with a tricky shot.
- When you’re just off the green, try a chiputt. The chiputt (get it?!) is basically putting using a lob wedge or a sand wedge. With this technique, the ball rolls much better through fringe and rough grass than if you use a putter. This easier rolling will make your shots more accurate. To pull this one off, use the same stance as you would for a normal chip, but raise your shoulders up a bit. The blade of the wedge should be halfway up the golf ball and the club should not be resting on the ball. Try opening up the clubface for a better roll and use a pendulum motion throughout the swing to keep the ball straight!
So there you have it, Scratch’s patented chip tips and tricks. Got any of your own chipping related advice? Leave it in the comment section!