The Short Game Secret: How to Chip Like a Pro in Golf

Welcome, golf enthusiasts! In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of chipping, a crucial element of the short game that can make all the difference in your golf score.

By the time you reach the end, you'll have a wealth of knowledge on everything from club selection and swing fundamentals to mastering various chipping techniques for different situations.

So, buckle up and let's dive into the world of chipping, as we help you unlock your true potential on the golf course!

Understanding the basics of chipping

Introducing the basics of chipping is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their golf game.

In this section, we'll define chipping, discuss when to use a chip shot, and differentiate chipping from pitching.

Let's dive in and start unraveling the mysteries of the short game!

Definition of chipping

Chipping is a type of golf shot that takes place close to the green, with the ball staying low to the ground and rolling towards the hole after landing.

The primary goal of chipping is to get the ball as close to the hole as possible with minimal air time, allowing it to roll out and ideally settle near the hole.

This shot is especially handy when you need to maneuver over obstacles such as rough grass, bunkers, or slopes.

When to use a chip shot

Chip shots are typically used when your ball is within about 20 to 30 yards of the green, depending on your skill level and club selection.

Generally, you'll want to use a chip shot when:

  1. Your ball is just off the green, and putting is not a practical option.
  2. You need to carry the ball over an obstacle or a patch of rough grass before reaching the green.
  3. The green's surface is relatively flat, allowing the ball to roll predictably towards the hole.

Differences between chipping and pitching

Though both chipping and pitching are part of the short game, they serve different purposes and require distinct techniques.

  • Trajectory: Chip shots have a lower trajectory and spend more time rolling on the green, while pitch shots have a higher trajectory, with the ball flying farther and stopping quicker after landing.
  • Distance: Chipping is used for shorter distances, usually within 30 yards of the green, while pitching covers a longer distance, typically between 30 and 100 yards.
  • Club selection: Chipping is often executed with a lower-lofted club, like a 7-iron or a 9-iron, while pitching employs higher-lofted clubs such as a pitching wedge or a sand wedge.

Understanding the basics of chipping is essential for mastering the short game and lowering your golf score.

By grasping the concepts of when to chip, what differentiates it from pitching, and the appropriate techniques, you'll be well on your way to becoming a more proficient golfer.

Selecting the right club for chipping

Selecting the right club for chipping can be a game-changer, ensuring you have the proper tools to execute your desired shot.

In this section, we'll examine commonly used clubs for chipping and the factors you should consider when choosing the right one.

Let's get started on elevating your short game by making smart club choices!

Commonly used clubs for chipping

Several clubs can be used for chipping, depending on the situation and personal preference.

Some of the most popular choices include:

  • 7-iron or 8-iron: These clubs are perfect for low chip shots with a lot of roll. They're great for shots where you have ample green to work with and need the ball to travel a longer distance on the ground.
  • 9-iron: With a bit more loft than the 7 or 8-iron, the 9-iron generates a higher trajectory, allowing for less roll and a softer landing on the green. This club is ideal for moderate distances and medium amounts of roll.
  • Pitching wedge (PW): The pitching wedge generates even more loft, providing higher shots with a shorter roll. It's a versatile club for various situations, especially when the ball needs to clear an obstacle or stop quickly on the green.
  • Gap wedge (GW) or Sand wedge (SW): These high-lofted clubs are excellent for situations where you need the ball to fly high and stop with minimal roll. They're ideal for lob shots, chips over bunkers, or when you need to get the ball close to a tight pin position.

Factors to consider when choosing a club

Several factors come into play when selecting the right club for a chip shot:

  1. Distance to the green: Consider the overall distance you need the ball to travel and how much of that distance needs to be in the air versus rolling on the green.
  2. Green's layout: Analyze the slope, contour, and any obstacles (e.g., bunkers, rough patches) that might influence your shot's trajectory and roll.
  3. Lie of the ball: Assess how the ball is sitting (e.g., on a tight lie, in the rough, on an upslope or downslope) and how it may affect the contact and flight of the shot.
  4. Personal preference and skill level: Choose a club that you're comfortable with and have confidence in, taking your skill level into account.

Selecting the right club for chipping is an essential skill to develop as it directly impacts your shot execution and overall results.

By understanding the various clubs and considering factors like distance, green layout, ball lie, and personal preferences, you'll be well-equipped to make the best club choice and improve your short game.

Key fundamentals of a successful chip shot

Mastering the fundamentals of a successful chip shot is critical to lowering your golf score and improving your overall game.

In this section, we'll delve into the key elements you need to focus on, such as proper grip and setup, ball position, and weight distribution.

Let's sharpen your chipping skills by nailing these essential techniques!

Proper grip and setup

A good grip and setup form the foundation of an effective chip shot.

Here's how to achieve the perfect grip and setup:

  1. Grip: Adopt a neutral grip that's neither too strong nor too weak. Hold the club more in your fingers than your palms for better control. Some golfers prefer the “chipping grip,” which involves placing your thumbs and index fingers closer together on the club for increased precision.
  2. Stance: Stand closer to the ball with a narrow stance, feet roughly shoulder-width apart. This stance promotes better control and consistency during the swing.
  3. Posture: Bend slightly at the hips with a small flex in your knees, maintaining a straight back. This posture allows for better balance and stability throughout the shot.

Ball position

The position of the ball in your stance affects the shot's trajectory and contact quality.

Here are some guidelines for proper ball positioning:

  • For lower chip shots: Place the ball toward the back of your stance, closer to your back foot. This setup encourages a downward strike, producing a lower trajectory with more roll.
  • For higher chip shots: Position the ball more toward the middle or front of your stance, nearer to your lead foot. This placement promotes a higher launch angle and a softer landing with less roll.

Weight distribution

Proper weight distribution is crucial for solid contact and consistent chip shots.

Here's how to distribute your weight correctly:

  • Favor your front foot: At setup, place roughly 60-70% of your weight on your front foot. This weight distribution promotes a downward strike on the ball, ensuring clean contact.
  • Keep your weight forward: Maintain this weight distribution throughout the swing, resisting the urge to shift your weight back during the backswing. Keeping your weight forward ensures a proper angle of attack and minimizes the risk of hitting the ball fat or thin.

Mastering the chipping swing

Getting a handle on the chipping swing is vital for any golfer looking to excel in the short game.

In this section, we'll discuss the importance of a smooth swing, and break down the mechanics of the backswing, downswing, and follow-through.

Let's polish your chipping swing and make it a formidable tool in your golfing arsenal!

Importance of a smooth swing

A smooth, controlled swing is essential for achieving consistent and accurate chip shots.

The key is to maintain a steady tempo and avoid the urge to be too aggressive or forceful.

Remember, chipping is all about finesse, control, and feel.

By focusing on a smooth swing, you'll generate better contact, trajectory, and distance control, leading to more successful chip shots.

The backswing

The backswing sets the stage for a solid chip shot.

Here are some crucial aspects to consider during the backswing:

  • Keep it simple: Unlike the full swing, a chipping backswing is shorter and more compact. Concentrate on keeping your wrists relatively quiet and your arms connected to your body.
  • Maintain your posture: Throughout the backswing, make sure to keep your spine angle steady and avoid unnecessary movements. This stability will help you achieve solid contact.
  • Slow and steady: As mentioned earlier, a smooth swing is critical. Don't rush the backswing, and avoid jerky or quick motions that may compromise control and consistency.

The downswing and follow-through

Once you've executed a controlled backswing, it's time to transition into the downswing and follow-through.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Let the clubhead do the work: Trust the loft of the club to get the ball in the air. Avoid trying to lift or scoop the ball, as this can lead to poor contact and inconsistent results.
  • Accelerate through the shot: Maintain a smooth, accelerating motion through the downswing, ensuring that your hands and arms stay connected to your body.
  • Finish with a controlled follow-through: As you complete the shot, your hands and arms should naturally extend toward the target. Avoid an exaggerated follow-through, as chipping requires a more subtle motion compared to the full swing.

Reading the green and visualizing your shot

Reading the green and visualizing your shot is a crucial part of successful chipping, as it allows you to plan and execute a shot that gets you closer to the hole.

In this section, we'll discuss assessing the slope and grain of the green, choosing the perfect landing spot, and visualizing the ball's roll to the hole.

Let's enhance your ability to read the green and bring your chipping game to new heights!

Assessing the slope and grain of the green

To accurately read the green, you'll need to examine the slope and grain of the grass.

Start by walking around the green, noting any obvious slopes or undulations that will impact your shot.

Also, pay attention to the grass's grain—the direction in which it grows—as it can affect the ball's roll.

Observe the color of the grass: a shiny, lighter hue indicates the grass is lying with the grain, while a darker color means it's against the grain.

Choosing the landing spot

After assessing the green's slope and grain, select a landing spot that gives your ball the best chance to roll towards the hole.

Consider the type of shot you're playing (low or high chip) and the amount of roll you expect based on your club selection.

Aim for a spot that will allow the ball to land and roll along the most direct path to the hole, taking into account any breaks or slopes you identified earlier.

Visualizing the ball's roll to the hole

Visualizing your shot before you execute it can be a powerful tool for success.

Close your eyes and imagine the entire shot, from the moment the club makes contact with the ball to the ball rolling along the green and ultimately stopping near the hole.

This mental exercise not only boosts confidence but also helps you commit to the shot you've planned.

When you step up to the ball, trust your visualization, and focus on executing the shot as you've imagined it.

Chipping techniques for various situations

As you encounter different situations on the golf course, being able to adapt your chipping technique becomes crucial to success.

In this section, we'll explore various chipping techniques tailored to specific situations, including uphill and downhill lies, bump and run shots, and lob shots for high obstacles.

Let's get ready to tackle any challenge the course throws your way!

Uphill and downhill lies

Facing uphill and downhill lies requires some adjustments to your chipping technique:

  • Uphill lies: For uphill lies, place the ball slightly forward in your stance and lean into the slope, putting more weight on your front foot. This setup helps you make solid contact and avoid hitting the ball fat. Remember to choose a club with more loft, as the slope will naturally lower the shot's trajectory.
  • Downhill lies: On a downhill lie, position the ball toward the back of your stance and lean with the slope, putting more weight on your back foot. This setup promotes a downward strike, minimizing the chances of hitting the ball thin. As with uphill lies, consider the effect of the slope on your shot's trajectory and choose your club accordingly.

Bump and run shots

The bump and run is a low-trajectory chipping technique that emphasizes the ball's roll on the green.

It's an excellent option when you have ample green to work with or when the green's surface is relatively flat.

To execute a bump and run, use a lower-lofted club (such as a 7 or 8-iron) and play the ball back in your stance.

Focus on making a smooth, abbreviated swing, allowing the ball to land on the green and roll toward the hole.

Lob shots for high obstacles

When you need to clear high obstacles like bunkers or thick rough, a lob shot comes in handy.

To play a lob shot, choose a high-lofted club (such as a lob wedge or sand wedge) and set up with the ball positioned forward in your stance.

Open the clubface slightly to add loft and promote a higher trajectory. As you swing, maintain a smooth tempo and hinge your wrists during the backswing.

Then, accelerate through the ball, sliding the club under the ball to create the necessary height and spin for the shot.

Practice drills and tips to improve your chipping

To truly elevate your chipping game, practice is essential.

In this section, we'll explore various drills and tips that will help you refine your technique and build confidence around the greens.

By incorporating these exercises into your practice routine, you'll soon see noticeable improvements in your chipping prowess!

Hitting to targets at different distances

One effective chipping drill involves hitting shots to targets at varying distances.

This exercise helps you develop a better feel for distance control and adaptability.

Set up multiple targets on the practice green at different yardages (e.g., 10, 20, and 30 yards).

Chip balls to each target, alternating between them and trying to land your shots as close as possible.

As you progress, challenge yourself by changing the order of the targets or adjusting the distances.

Chipping with one hand

Chipping with just one hand is a useful drill for enhancing clubface control and promoting a smooth, relaxed swing.

Choose a club and practice chipping using only your lead hand (left hand for right-handed golfers and vice versa).

This exercise encourages a softer grip and helps you develop a better feel for the clubhead throughout the swing.

As you become more comfortable, switch to your trailing hand and work on maintaining the same smooth tempo and clubface control.

Using a towel or coin for feedback

Incorporating a towel or coin into your chipping practice can provide valuable feedback and improve your overall technique:

  • Towel drill: Place a small towel about a foot behind the ball, creating a barrier that prevents you from hitting the ground too early (fat shots). The goal is to chip the ball without striking the towel, encouraging proper contact and avoiding the tendency to scoop or hit down too steeply.
  • Coin drill: Set a coin on the ground and attempt to chip it off the surface. This drill promotes precision and focus, as you need to make clean contact with the coin to send it airborne. It's an excellent way to sharpen your chipping accuracy and consistency.

Common chipping mistakes and how to fix them

Chipping can be challenging, and even the best golfers sometimes make mistakes.

In this section, we'll examine some common chipping errors and offer practical solutions to help you fix them.

By recognizing and addressing these issues, you'll be well on your way to a more consistent and effective short game.

Hitting the ball too thin or fat

Thin and fat shots are often the result of poor setup, improper weight distribution, or an attempt to “scoop” the ball into the air.

To fix this issue, make sure you set up with the ball in the middle of your stance and lean slightly into your front foot.

Focus on maintaining a consistent spine angle and keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead throughout the swing.

Trust the club's loft to do its job and avoid trying to help the ball into the air.

Decelerating through the shot

Decelerating through the shot can lead to poor contact, distance control issues, and inconsistent results.

To combat this problem, practice maintaining a smooth, accelerating motion through impact.

Focus on keeping your grip pressure light and your arms connected to your body.

As you swing, ensure that your hands and arms continue to move toward the target in a controlled manner.

Incorporating this acceleration into your chipping swing will lead to better contact and more consistent results.

Inconsistent contact

Inconsistent contact in chipping can stem from several issues, such as changing your swing plane or having too much tension in your grip or arms.

To improve contact consistency, concentrate on maintaining a smooth, rhythmic swing, and keeping your wrists relatively quiet during the backswing.

Check your grip pressure to make sure it's not too tight, as excessive tension can hinder your swing and cause inconsistencies.


In conclusion, chipping is a fundamental aspect of the game of golf that requires skill, practice, and patience to master.

From understanding the basics of chipping to selecting the right club and developing specialized techniques, we've covered a wide range of tips and drills to help you improve your chipping performance.

By incorporating these strategies into your practice routine, you'll be better equipped to tackle a variety of chipping situations on the course and ultimately lower your scores.

With dedication and persistence, you can enhance your short game and become a more well-rounded golfer.