The majority of amateur golfers focus on their wood and iron play when they do have time to work on their golf games with limited time spent on short game practice. Chipping is a very important aspect of the game of golf and with a sound chipping technique golfers can save at least 2 -3 shots per round.
In addition to a sound technique knowing when to hit which type of chip shot is equally as important. Some players only have one type of chip shot in their arsenal and hitting the wrong shot at the wrong time can cause chaos around the greens.
Below we are going to take a closer look at different chip shots and we are also going to look at some of the best drills that can assist with taking your short game to the next level.
Different Types of Chip Shots
Most golfers use the term chipping and pitching interchangeably but there is a difference between these two types of chip shots. Below we are going to take a closer look at the different types of chip shots and the confusion between pitch and chip shots will be a thing of the past.
Chipping (Bump and Run)
Chip shots are also known as bump and run shots. Chip shots have minimal air-time and a maximum amount of roll. Since the premise behind a chip shot is to get the golf ball rolling as soon as possible a lower lofted club is recommended when chipping.
Normally players will opt for a gap or pitching wedge when hitting a chip shot, but don’t be scared to experiment with the rest of your irons, there is nothing wrong with using a 6 or 7 iron to hit a bump and run shot when you have a substantial amount of green between yourself and the flag.
Pitch shots are shots around the green where the golf ball travels in the air for about half the distance of the shot and it rolls on the green for the other half. This breakdown isn’t set in stone and with some shots, the ratio will be closer to three quarters in the air and one-quarter roll on the green. When hitting a pitch shot more loft is required to ensure that the golf ball gets up into the air with ease.
Most players will opt for either their lob or sand wedge when hitting a pitch shot. Pitch shots are all about trajectory, experiment with different clubs and ball position when practising your pitch shots, the more variety you can add to your pitching arsenal the better.
Lob or flop shots are the high-risk greenside shots that Phil Mickelson is renowned for. Don’t worry you don’t need Mickelson’s skill levels to perfect a flop shot, but he is a very good model to look at if you are interested in learning from the best of the best.
To learn more about how Phil Mickelson hits the perfect flop/lob what this video.
Flop shots will fly through the air and land softly on the green with limited roll. This type of short game shot requires a big swing and the use of an open clubface which does bring an added element of risk to the party when hitting this shot.
For most beginners and amateurs that aren’t comfortable with hitting a flop shot only attempt this shot if your other options are limited. The last thing you want is to try and hit a flop shot over a bunker to a tight cut pin only to dump the ball into the bunker. The smart play will be to opt for a more conservative pitch shot that doesn’t include a wide-open clubface and a big swing, 2 putting from 30 feet past the hole is a lot better than having to hit a bunker shot after a miscues lob shot.
Basic Fundamentals of Chipping
The grip is one of the most important fundamentals of the game of golf. When it comes to chipping golfers tend to forget about the importance of the grip. When we look at a good chipping grip two things are important, grip pressure and grip strength.
Good rhythm is vital to a good short game and consistent grip pressure will go a long way in ensuring a smooth chipping and pitching action. More often than not players tend to grip the club too tight when chipping which in return results in a choppy, uneven motion.
Too much grip pressure is a big no, but this doesn’t mean that you should barely have any pressure on the grip when chipping. On a scale of 1 – 10, your grip pressure should be about 5. This will ensure a smooth chipping action whilst remaining in control of the club face through impact.
When it comes to grip strength a weaker left hand is recommended for chipping. Players that naturally have a neutral or weak left hand when gripping the club won’t have issues with this but players with a strong left hand will struggle with controlling the clubface when chipping. To check the strength of your grip, look at how many knuckles you can see on your left hand when looking down at address. Ideally, you shouldn’t see more than two knuckles on your left hand when chipping.
Stance and Alignment
With your normal golf swing and with putting a square stance and square shoulders in relation to your target is recommended, but with chipping this isn’t the case. When it comes to chipping a slightly open stance to your target is the best course of action.
A slightly open stance serves multiple purposes. In addition to creating space for your shoulders and arms to move freely, it also promotes an out to in swing path which is what all golfers are after when chipping. With an out to in swing path, you will be able to get cut spin on the golf ball which in return will generate backspin and stopping power on the green.
When you watch the best players in the world on the PGA Tour you will notice that their stance differs depending on the shot that they are playing. With a bump and run their alignment will be very close to neutral but with a flop shot you will see them opening up their stance to generate that out to in swing path that is required to keep the club face open through impact and to generate backspin.
When a chip or pitch shot goes wrong for an amateur golfer one of two things normally happens, they either blade it across the green or cover it in dirt barely advancing the ball at all. These bad shots can be a result of many different things but more often than not weight distribution is the culprit.
When it comes to chipping it is very important to have between 60% and 70% of your weight on your left foot (right foot for left-handed players) at address and throughout the shot.
Good weight distribution will ensure the correct angle of attack at impact which in return will ensure a clean crisp strike. When it comes to chipping clean contact is a must to control the trajectory and distance of your chip and pitch shots.
Best Drills for Chipping
The ability to land the golf ball in the correct spot is one of the most important aspects when it comes to chipping and pitching. By landing the golf ball in the correct spot your speed control will be consistent and it will make a massive difference to your overall short game performance.
For this drill use your towel and place it flat on the ground in a square in the spot that you have identified as the landing spot for your chip, pitch or lob shot. Once your landing spot is identified hit at least 20 balls to the hole with the goal of landing the ball on the towel. If your landing spot needs to be adjusted feel free to do so, alternatively try the same shot but with a different club to match the trajectory with the landing spot.
This easy-to-do drill might not seem like much but trust me if you can hit your landing spots consistently your short game will improve drastically.
14 Club Drill
When it comes to shots around the green the need for good distance control can’t be overemphasized. Good distance control requires a good feel, the likes of Phil Mickelson and Seve Ballesteros have a natural feel when it comes to hitting shots around the green. However, for most regular golfer’s feel isn’t something that comes naturally, but it is something that you can practice.
A great feel drill for chipping and pitching is the 14-club drill. Take 10 balls and find a relatively easy chip from the fairway with adequate green between yourself and the hole. Now hit 10 balls to the hole with every single club in your bag including your putter and driver with the aim of stopping the ball as close to the hole as possible.
This drill requires touch and imagination, and the more you do it the better you will become at it and the better your feel will be around the greens.
Single Leg Stance Drill
Many golfers struggle with keeping their weight on their front foot when chipping. Good weight distribution at address is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t able to keep it there throughout the shot.
A great drill to help with this is the single-leg stance drill. With this drill set up to a chip or pitch shot as you normally would, before you hit the ball simply pick up your right foot and transfer all of your weight to your left foot. You can still use your right foot to help with keeping your balance, but minimal weight should be on it, now go ahead and hit the ball. At first, it will be pretty daunting, and you will probably fall over a couple of times but very soon your body will figure out the importance of keeping your weight distribution stable throughout the shot.
Which club should I chip with?
The answer to this question depends on the type of shot that you are planning on hitting. With a bump and run shot a club with less loft is recommended such as a 9 iron or PW. If you are planning on hitting a pitch or lob shot a club with more loft is required. Most players use either their SW or LW when hitting either a lob or pitch shot.
How do I know which type of chip shot to hit?
A. Knowing which chip shot to hit requires some analysis before making a final decision. Once you have established how much green you have to work with and how much grass there is between the ball and the green you can make an educated decision on which shot to hit.
For shots where the majority of the distance between your ball and the hole is green a bump and run shot is the way to go. On shots where roughly 50% of the shot is green and the other 50% is fairway/grass, a chip shot is the recommended shot choice. Last but not least when a player has limited green to work with or if they need to navigate their way over a bunker or other hazard then a flop/lob shot is the shot of choice.
How can I add more spin to my chip shots?
A. To add spin to your chip shots a variety of different factors need to work together. Using a lofted club (SW or LW) is a must, in addition to loft good technique is equally as important. Clean crisp contact and acceleration through impact are vital for an added spin on your chip shots.
To learn more about how to add spin to your chip shots watch this video by leading PGA Tour player, Billy Horschel.
A good short game goes a long way in lowering your scores out on the golf course. Practicing your chipping or pitching isn’t as fun as bombing drives on the driving range but the reward of lower scores is worth the sacrifice. In addition to practicing good technique is equally as important to ensure short game success.
When it comes to chipping the basics including good weight distribution, grip, and stance and alignment are very important. With the basics in place, a good rhythmic action will ensure a sharp short game.
This article was last updated on March 11, 2021 .