When I first started playing golf, chipping was one of the most unnatural skills for me to pick up. Whether I had to hit the ball 100 yards, 50 yards, or 15 yards, I was lost. I had no feel for the distance. Even if I hit a great tee shot where a simple chip on the green would give me a birdie putt, I would get in my head, tighten my swing, and absolutely shank the ball. I have made some changes to my chipping game, and now I finally have confidence with chipping. With confidence to chip anywhere between 100 – 20 yards, you have command on a hole from almost anywhere. Personally, I am finally starting to see noticeable improvements in my score also, and this is key to make the leap to shooting 90s golf. Here are the things I learned that improved my chip game.
- Control Your Backswing, Not Your Swing Speed
Psychologically, I used to try and slow my swing down to chip different distances. Every chip I took a full backswing, but would try and control my swing speed on the way down. Of course this led to over-tightening, making it difficult to square the face of the club and make clean contact with the ball. To control how far of a chip you want to hit, just take a shorter of longer backswing and trust your swing to take care of the rest.
2. Rotate Your Body
This was another major mistake I would often make. I would try to take my body out of it, and just use my arms to hit the ball. As with any golf swing, there should still be rotation and movement of the hips and shoulders. This is the way we always hit a golf ball, so stay true to it even with chips. Everything should be fluid, and restricting one part of the body will always create tightness, which will practically always lead to inconsistency and poor results.
3. Don’t Move The Ball Too Far Forward. Keep it in the Middle of Your Stance
To learn chipping, like most things, I started with watching Youtube videos. There I watched Phil Mickelson give tips on how chip while he was hitting picture-prefect crisp shots that rolled right up to the pin. In this video Phil recommends moving the ball toward your front foot. That may be true, however I was probably overcompensating, by moving the ball much too far forward. Once I stopped trying to change where the ball is in my stance I finally saw consistency and clean contact. When hitting any shots, start with the ball in your normal stance and tinker with it from there to see where you feel most comfortable.
4. Don’t Try and Lift the Ball
This is true for all golf shots. The angle of the club will put it up in the air for you, so there is no need to try and lift the ball off the ground. Trust your swing and the club.
5. Relax the wrists
With normal shots, our wrists will usually snap and square the face of the club. I had issues where I tried to eliminate my wrists and the ball would constantly not hit off the center of the club face. When we are going for longer chips, you do need wrist in your swing, so keep these relaxed on the downswing and make sure you square the face like other shots.
6. Aim For the Bottom of the Ball, Not The Ground
Sometimes our ball sits on some high grass, so by going for the ground will lead to non-perfect contact. By focusing on the bottom the ball, I have noticed that it helps me hit better chips.
7. Feel Your Chip Swing For Yourself
You’re not just going to magically be able to chip by reading this blog or any other. You have to gain the muscle memory with hard work from yourself. Go to a driving rage or a chipping green and play around with different aspects of your swing. Feel what the arms, wrists, shoulders, and hips are doing and notice how different feelings of all of those create different results. Once you find some nice consistency keep practicing to deepen that feel and your confidence.
8. Relax Everything, Including Your Mind
Forcing certain parts of your body to move in certain ways only leads to tightness and overcompensation. Your chip needs to be relaxed, and when you are on the course going for a chip, you should not be trying to do anything in particular. Just relax and let your sub conscious take care of the rest. You should only be trying to focus on different parts of your swing during practice sessions.
Those are my tips to help your chip game! Notice that all the tips involve relaxing your body, and trusting your self to make the shot. To build this trust you have to go and play around with your swing for yourself. Knowledge of how to do something only goes so far. Your body is what swings the club, so train your body to do that, and then trust it! Our minds usually only get in the way. That’s why I love golf.