If there is one thing the pros will tell you about chipping it is this:
Get the ball on the ground as quickly as possible; let it roll as much as possible.
Just like the pitch, the key to performing a great chip shot starts with the set up. Here are some tips on how to best set up for your chip shot.
Setting Up for a Chip Shot
This first step is a great idea for ALL golf shots, not just the chip shot.
Set your club head behind the ball in-line with your target line. Do this before you do anything else. Get that club face aimed properly before you worry about getting your body positioned.
For chip shots, you normally want to aim the club face at the hole.
Once the club is aimed properly, take your stance and spread your feet with your heels no more than six inches apart. For some shots, you may want to put your feet closer and that’s fine.
The reason you put your feet so close together is this position allows for a steeper swing. With chipping, it is important that you have a downward impact on the ball, and this closed stance helps to make that happen.
A key element to a good chip shot is balance, so make sure you are comfortable before you swing.
Once your feet are set, move your left foot back a little bit to open your stance (right foot for left-handed golfers). You also need to open your hips so they are in-line with your feet. This is crucial, so make sure you do it.
Once you have your lower body set up, square your shoulders. You do NOT want your shoulders to be in-line with your feet and hips! You want them square so your backswing will travel properly along the target line.
Tip: If you notice that your club is cutting across the ball, your shoulders are not square enough or you are opening your feet and hips too much.
To cure this problem, work on one issue at a time. Start by having a buddy check to see if your shoulders are square. This might solve your problem right here.
If your shoulders are in the correct position, try closing your stance just a bit. Hit a few chips and adjust your stance until you get it right.
As with your pitching set up, you want to put more weight on your left foot during set up so as to avoid having to transfer any weight during the shot. For left-handed golfers, the weight would be on your right foot.
You only need to put slightly more weight on the forward foot. Do not overcompensate on this. A little goes a long way with this type of shot.
The golf ball should now be positioned between your heels.
The last step in your chipping set up is to make sure that your hands are ahead of the ball. This is vital to making this type of shot.
Important Tip: Even though your hands are ahead of the ball, the ball should be in-line with your breastbone. This is truly important because if the ball is out of line, your club will get to the bottom of its swing arc before it gets to the ball. This results in striking the ball with the bottom edge of the club and this leads to the ball flying well past where you wanted it to land.
The Chip Backswing
To execute a good chip shot, your shoulders, arms, and hands must all move together as you begin the backswing. While the upper body is active, the lower body should remain still and relaxed, with the exception of your hips. Your hips should feel a slight bit of pressure as they turn.
Keep your weight on your forward foot throughout the swing.
The Chip Downswing
As you begin your downswing, hips, hands, arms, and shoulders stay in sync with one another. It is important that you not let anything lag behind. They all move together.
Many golfers will make the mistake of allowing their wrists to break as the club approaches the ball. Do not do that. Keep your left wrist solid and flat through impact—right wrist for left-handed golfers.
The Chip Impact
It is imperative that your hands be ahead of the golf club at impact. This means your hands are ahead of the ball as well. Keeping your left wrist flat will ensure your hands stay ahead.
The Chip Finish
As you finish the chip shot, your club face should be in-line with the target. However, your hips should be open to the target. Your arms should remain extended.
A common mistake made during both pitching and chipping is bringing the head up too quick. Resist the urge to watch your shot and keep your head down!
How to Hit a Lob Shot
Every now and then the best shot option is a lob shot, but many golfers are unfamiliar with how to play this type of precision shot. Let’s take a look at the lob shot and see if we cannot put this useful tool into our golf bag of tricks.
A lob shot is best used when you need a high shot that is close to the green, say within 60 yards or so, but also need to stop the ball fast upon landing.
In order to perform a lob shot, you need a lob wedge.
You have options when it comes to choosing lob wedges. Lob wedges are available in lofts that range from 58 degrees to 61 degrees. There are also some high-performance wedges that come in lofts of from 62 degrees to 65 degrees.
Once you know how to use a lob wedge, it can add dramatically to your short game. Here are some tips on how to choose a lob wedge, for those who may be unfamiliar with them.
- If you are new to lob wedges, choose one that has no more than 60 degrees of loft. Remember, more loft equals more difficulty in using.
- Choose one that has a bounce angle of 10- to 13-degrees. Do not go below 8 degrees. The more bounce angle the less likely it is to dig into the ground.
How to Play a Lob Wedge
Balance is important. When playing a lob wedge, keep your weight evenly between both feet.
Do not play the ball too far back in your stance, and do not play it too far forward in your stance.
Swing distance is important too. Normally, you only need a maximum backswing of about ¾. For most recreational golfers, do not go past the parallel point until you have mastered the club.
Your hands must lead the swing, so keep them ahead of the ball.
It is vital that you accelerate through the ball at impact. This is one of the most common mistakes players make with the lob wedge (and other wedges as well).
The tendency for many golfers playing wedges, and particularly the lob wedge, is to slow the club as it approaches the ball. This is a mistake.
When practicing with the lob wedge, make it a point to accelerate through impact.
The Lob Wedge is NOT a Magic Stick
It must be noted that the lob wedge is a unique club, and as such it serves a unique purpose. With so much hype about it lately, many golfers are using it when they should not.
If you need a lot of height and a soft landing, the lob wedge is the right club. It is a great club for getting over bunkers and other types of hazards that are between you and the green.
But most pros agree that unless you need that added carry, consider pitching or chipping.
The point here is that many players, new to the lob wedge, see poor results but only because they are using the club when they should be using something else.
Do not fall into the trap of lob-mania. Use it only when you need it. You should not expect good shot-making results until you spend some time practicing with the lob wedge.
One Last Thought
As you know, you are only allowed 14 clubs in your bag. If you add a lob wedge, you have to take something else out. Most golfers choose to remove one of their long irons, and this makes sense.
The decision as to which club to remove, however, is up to the individual golfer.
One of the major advantages to adding a lob wedge to your bag is that this club truly does serve as an in-between club.
Experienced golfers understand just how difficult it is to make “partial” shots. A lob wedge allows you to make a full swing when you are at a distance that would dictate a half- or quarter-swing with another club. For many golfers making a full-swing is far easier to do than making any type of partial swing.
The lob wedge makes you far more prepared for those shots that fall within 60 yards or so of the green. No other club can match it at this distance, so learning to play it well is time well invested.