How to chip – Take Your Short Game to the Next Level

How to Chip in Golf

Chipping is often forgotten about in golf, yet it’s a relatively easy technique that could shave off a couple of strokes in a game. 

Now imagine bumping into a formula that shows you how to chip like a pro. A simple four-step technique designed to build confidence, fine-tune your short game, and get you a par or better in every hole. That’s what this post brings to the table. 

How to chip in golf infographic

What You’ll Need to Follow This Tutorial

A pitching wedge should be your go-to tool when practicing this chipping technique. This club works for shots with higher or shorter trajectories, and the idea is to use a club with a decent-size loft to make your shots painless. You might also want to have a sand wedge in the bag in case the ball lands on loose sand or long grass.

The 9 iron is also a good option for people looking to learn how to chip. It comes with a smaller loft that helps the golf ball roll further when in the green. That makes it the perfect club to use when covering long distances.

Also Read: Best Wedges for High Handicappers and Beginners

How To Chip in Golf — A Simple Technique

You may have seen a lot of chipping advice on the internet—some good while others are laughable. Every expert swears by their formula, with some having outrageous claims of how they can get your chip in the 3-foot zone consistently. However, only a few of them offer a simple, step-by-step formula that actually works like Phil Mickelson’s Chipping 101 tutorial you can watch below. 

Here’s everything you need to know:

Step #1: Get the Stance Right

A winning chip shot starts with getting the stance right. You want your feet parallel to the golf ball but bent slightly towards the target, toes in line, and a relatively small distance apart. Most people make this distance 0 to 6 inches, but the idea is to make sure you feel comfortable and in control of the situation. This stance increases your chances of getting in contact with the ball and getting it to go in the right direction.

Step #2: Bodyweight Should be on the Front Foot

After finding the right stance, it’s time to place your weight in the right place. Around 70 percent of your bodyweight should be on the front foot. This helps you maintain the loft and increases your chances of getting in contact with the ball correctly. You need to keep this balance the whole time for the best results.

Step #3: Hand Position — Ahead of the Ball 

You don’t want the right hand to be in the same line as the golf club. Bend the wrist at a slight angle from the body, moving it towards the target. That places the club close to the body, so you don’t feel stretched when taking the shot. 

Remember to use a relatively loose three or two-finger overlap grip every time you take a chip shot.

Step #4: Get the Ball Positioning Right 

The ball should never be between the feet. It should align with the front foot if you want to go high or with your back foot for a low shot. Putting it between the feet allows room for error and might result in shanked and topped shots. 

Also read: The Best Golf Training Aids for Chipping

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Improve My Chip Shot?

Sometimes, you might be getting the setup right but still shanking and topping a lot of shots. The problem could be the position of your club during the backswing.

If you swing too far behind your body, the contact point pulls back behind the golf ball position. Meaning, the club head will hit the ground before reaching the ball.

To resolve this issue, move the clubhead and handle in the same direction when starting the backswing. Doing this maintains the correct loft through the entire swing and ends in a proper shot.

The clubhead will eventually travel further than the handle, but the idea is to move the head and butt in the same direction when starting the backswing. When you reach the very top of the swing, break the wrist slightly to allow room for momentum.

This technique might seem confusing at first, but it gets easier with time.

What’s the Difference Between Chipping and Pitching?

You’ve probably heard these two names thrown around interchangeably on the golf course—and you know they can’t be the same thing. Each shot works for a different situation, but players can pitch when they are supposed to be chipping and vice versa.  

What Is Chipping?
A chip shot stays close to the ground during flight and might even bounce a few times before grinding to a halt. Most golfers use it to get closer to the hole. Plus, you don’t need a full swing to hit a chip shot successfully.
There is no specific tool for chipping as your choice will depend on the actual situation (more on that later). You might end up using a mid-iron, wedge, or hybrid club. 
To hit a perfect chip shot, you need to analyze the terrain between you and the target. You want the ball to land on the green and roll towards the hole—that won’t work if there’s a bunker between you and the target. 
If the ball lands on the bunker, getting it out will not be easy. This unfortunate event is a quick way to ruin your chances of finishing with 85 or better.
What Is Pitching?
The pitch and chip shots don’t require a full swing to work, but that’s where the similarities end. The pitch shot gets the ball over an obstruction like a pond or bunker. Most golfers also use this technique for longer shots around the green. 
Generally speaking, a pitch shot spends most of its active time in the air than on the ground. It has a higher trajectory and more spin that makes it stop faster than the chip shot.
A pitch shot setup is somewhat similar to that of the chip shot. The only difference is the weight distribution on the feet. It should be at 50 percent to 60 percent, favoring the lead foot. That allows you to hit the ball close to the bottom, giving it a lift. 
That said, a chip shot works well when there’s a relatively good and short path to the target. A pitch shot will help you get past obstacles or prevent rolling when the target is at the edge of the green. That makes these short shots different but interchangeable depending on the terrain and distance to the target.

Do You Break Your Wrist When Chipping a Golf Ball?

The short answer is yes, but there’s a catch.  
Your wrists should align with the clubhead initially, then bend slightly at the very end of a backswing. That prevents topping and shanking, all of which are issues standing in the way between you and perfect shots.
Of course, there is a big misunderstanding between golfers who advocate for no wrist shots and those who do. The most experienced golfers in the no wrist camp might see some success, but these results are usually a hit or miss. 
For best results, mix the wrist and no wrist techniques every time you chip. Start with a parallel movement until you get to the upper part, where you can bend the wrists a bit before the downswing.
There’s also the issue of gripping the club too tightly. Doing that puts you at risk of losing the “feel” of the shot. 
Once you fall into this trap, your chip shots keep getting worse. You might get lucky a few times using the no wrist strategy, and that tricks you into grabbing the club a little bit tighter to ensure zero wrist movement. That’s when your scores start taking a deep dive.
Most golfers who start with no wrist end up allowing wrist movement in their swing naturally. This action improves their gaming skills almost immediately, and they end up shooting relatively good chips and pitches. The idea is to master the angle needed to make the shot by practicing every time you have a chance.

What Causes a Shank When Chipping?

Shanking is the result of unintended contact during a shot. You might hit the golf ball with some other part of the club, and the product is a slow shot that can go 90 degrees (to the right) away from the target for right-handed players. An equally severe 90-degree deviation to the left can also happen to left-handed players.

Standing Too Close To the Ball
A wrong stance is one of the most common causes of shanking. If you stand too close to the ball, the club ends up drawing back. That shifts the point of contact, bringing it behind the ball’s current position. The result is an embarrassing miss, a topped shot, or a shank. 
To correct this, move back a little further from the ball. There’s no exact measurement for this distance, but you should feel comfortable touching the ball with the clubhead.
Mixing Your Weight Position on Short Game 
You want to place your weight on the front foot, more towards the heels. That allows you to have the same distance from the hand to the ball, increasing your chances of hitting it. Shifting the weight to the toes means you might be leaning forward, making the contact point shorter than it needs to be. 
However, no amount of training can ever show you how to execute this one. Just practice until you find the sweet spot. 

Moving Your Head in the Wrong Direction When Chipping
This one might surprise you, but it happens more often than you think. Golfers tend to move towards the ball when swinging, which influences the club direction. 
The head is the center of the swing, and you should keep it that way. If anything, it should move away from the ball a bit, and this movement starts during the downswing.
Hand Path Problems 
Getting the hand path correct might be a more complicated affair than correcting the first three. Here, the route your hands take during the swing should align with the target and stay clear of any part of your body. Experienced golfers might not need to think about this one, but it can be a problem for beginners.
Here is a simple training exercise for hand path mastery: 
Place two golf balls close to each other. The space in between should be less than the width of a golf ball. Now attempt hitting the first ball and leaving the second ball in its original position. This exercise trains you to swing accurately, master weight distribution, and avoid shanking.

What Is the Best Club To Chip With?

When learning how to chip, it’s easy to think the pitch wedge will work for every situation. But that’s far from reality. You need to factor in the distance and terrain before choosing a club for the shot.

Here’s a breakdown of the clubs to play with at different distances: 

4 Yards To the Target 
A sand wedge is the best tool for the job when looking at a relatively short distance from the flag. This club should help you roll on the green, especially when there’s a good lie in your favor. The 56-degree wedge is particularly helpful in getting the ball to a decent height and spin, making it easier to stop after the first contact.

5 to 7 Yards To the Hole

A pitching wedge is your best bet when trying to land on the green from 7 yards out. This club is excellent at hitting low flying shots with a little more run than the sand wedge. If used correctly, this club will get the ball on the green and create a favorable condition for rolling. 
More Than 7 Yards
The 9 or 8 iron is an excellent option for shots more than 7 yards away from the green. They have a smaller loft than the other options here, which means you won’t need a lot of energy to get the ball in the green. The catch is knowing how much pressure you need to land on the green while avoiding the bunkers and tall grass.

Should You Chip With a Sand Wedge?

A sand wedge (SW) is probably the least used club in your arsenal, but it can help you get out of sticky situations such as bunkers. These clubs come with a bigger loft between the front of the clubhead and the ground—and that results in more bounce when you play. 

Most golf courses compact their bunkers to make them firm, which eliminates the need for an SW. But there are other golf courses with loose sand in their bunkers, and no other club will work in the unfortunate event of landing in one of those. It is at this trying moment that you appreciate this bad boy. 

This equipment will handle shots in the 70 to 100 yards range easily on a full swing. It can also work for a shorter shot with less than a full swing, but that’s usually harder to pull off.
Still, being in the bunker doesn’t necessarily justify pulling out the sand wedge. Compacted sand has the same characteristics as a hard surface, and using this tool may result in a lousy shot. If used on a hard surface, the loft on an SW will hit the ball close to the middle, causing a directional change. You are better off using a pitching wedge or a 9-iron in this situation.
Bringing an SW to the golf course is a great idea, especially if you’re not sure if there is loose sand and bunkers in your path. Not having one would be a disservice to yourself if you get into a sand trap somewhere in the game. 

It’s also good practice to try the club before bringing it to a competitive round. That gives you a feel for it, reducing the chances of a big deviation from the target.

Also Read: Best Irons for Beginners and High Handicappers

Chipping Shot

Over To You

This four-step chipping technique has worked for many golf players, including tour golfers and beginners. It starts with getting the stance right, shifting 70 percent of your weight to the front foot, putting your hands forward, and correctly choosing your ball position. Get these steps right, and you should be hitting shots within 3-foot of your target in no time.

Did you like the post? Or better yet, did you find this How to Chip tutorial insightful? If you did, send us your thoughts, suggestions, and questions. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.

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Jay Martin
Jay is an avid golfer who has been playing for 25 years. While you can find him on the golf course every weekend, he also spends his time testing clubs at the range. He strives to share unbiased reviews and the most up-to-date information on all things golf.