Chip Away at Your Score

FaldoMichaelEllisHeadshotBy Michael Ellis, PGA,
Senior Instructor, Marriott Golf Academy in Palm Desert

You’ve just hit your drive down the middle on a Par 4 hole. Your next shot comes up a little short of the green. You can still make a par with good chip and a putt. You proceed to hit a poor chip and then 2 or 3 putt from there. Does this sound familiar? If so, read on and hopefully I can get you to chip away at your score and ultimately make 3 shots into 2.

The easiest way for most golfers to lower their scores is to have a good short game. Chipping, Pitching, Bunker shots and Putting combine for about 65% of the shots in a typical round of golf. With that in mind, here is a simple Chipping technique to help you lower your scores. To distinguish the difference between Chipping and Pitching remember that Chipping is a lower running type of shot and Pitching is more of a lofted type of shot.

First and foremost since this is not a full swing, narrow your stance. To hit a low running chip you then need to place the ball back in the stance. The hands should be placed where they are in most shots in golf just inside your lead thigh so there is some shaft lean toward the target. This will de-loft the club that you choose. Place most of your weight on your lead side and keep it there through the whole shot as this will help you keep a quiet lower body and ensure a descending blow and a centered hit. The object here is to get the ball on the green fairly soon and let the ball run or roll most of the way to the hole. Club selection is very preferential but I prefer to use 9 iron or Pitching Wedge for shorter distances, a 7 or 8 iron for medium distances and maybe a 6 iron for longer distances. By using different clubs for certain distances I can keep the length of the swing very similar for all distances rather than using one club. I feel that by keeping the swing short there will be fewer moving parts and therefore less chance of a mistake.

With light grip pressure, move the triangle that is formed by the arms and shoulders back and through the shot. The club head rises naturally as a result of my weight on my lead side and produce a crisp hit. Having a “handsy” or “wristy” take away, the triangle of the arms and shoulders does not move and generally gets the club moving inside the target line and causes the club to bottom out early at impact and a poor shot is the result. The proper arms and shoulder take away will allow the club to stay on the target line and produce not only good contact but good direction as well. As a practice aid, place a tee about a foot in front of your ball and a foot behind your ball on the target line. Swing the club tee to tee.

With this technique it is imperative that the handle of the club stays ahead of the club head through impact and your upper body rotates toward the target. If the body stops rotating the hands will take over and the club head will pass the hands and cause a terrible result. To help feel keeping the hands ahead of the club head try using a comb as shown.

This technique requires soft hands with a “tick tock” rhythm and pace or tempo. Land the ball on the green early and let the ball roll or run most of the way to the hole. Incorporate this chipping technique into your practice routine and your confidence level will rise and your scores will lower. A good practice routine to follow is to take 3 balls and chip to a hole and then see how many out of the 3 shots that you can one putt. Repeat this method from different distances and lies around the green. Don’t be too surprised to see some of these shots go in the hole with this simple chipping method.

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