Let’s face it, no matter how long or straight you heave the ball down the fairway, there’s no guarantee you’re going to make par or better on the hole. As amateur golfers, we miss greens … a lot. Even if you have great course management and decide to try and leave yourself plenty of green to work with in case you miss, sometimes our ball doesn’t listen. We may only have a few yards to the hole to stop it quickly, not to mention there might be a downslope, the greens might be devilishly fast, you might be nervous, etc. It seems that you need a miracle to get up and down, but it can really be solved with a bit of practice. That being said, let’s take a look at how you can make sure to get the ball in the air around the greens with a basic chip shot. Doing this will not only improve your control but it’ll also help you avoid chunked and bladed shots across the green.
Keys to Basic Chip Shot:
- Left arm is Extension of club
- Move in Unison
- Strike Down on the Ball
1) Think of your left arm (right arm if you’re a lefty) as an extension of your shaft and your right arm (left arm if you’re a lefty) as a piston that moves the club
Okay, so this is probably the most complex part, but it’s not too bad. When you grip the club, try to align your left arm with the shaft, as if the club doesn’t end at the grip but rather goes into your arm. Your left arm is how you control the club face so that it doesn’t swivel left and right as you approach impact. Your right arm should be much more relaxed and have some bend to it at the elbow. Your right arm is how your control the power, which should be easy because by doing this, chipping just becomes a simple throwing motion with your right arm.
2) Move in unison
When you chip, each arm does it’s job, but it should all move in unison. Your entire upper body – including your chest, shoulders, arms, and core, should turn back and turn through the shot at the same time. Chipping is a very fine movement – one part of your body out of sync can mess up the entire motion. To be simple, just think about your lower body standing still like the legs of a 360 degree swivel chair and your upper body as the seat of that same swivel chair.
3) Strike down on the ball
A lot of amateurs think you should try to “graze” the ground or you need to try and help the ball up in the air, but this is not the case at all. You need to accelerate while striking down into the ground. When you take the club back, take it in a steep motion, almost as if you’re lifting the club into the air. When you come down make sure to strike down into the grass right behind your ball.
How does this help you avoid chunked shots?
Chips are fat when you don’t make contact with the ground at the right time – when you hit it too early. By moving your upper body as a single unit and really driving your club into the ground, you have much more control on when your clubhead meets the earth. Basically, you know exactly how the club is going to react to the ground because you can anticipate how hard, how steeply, and at what point your club is going to strike the ground under your ball. You’re no longer guessing – you’re thinking and calculating.
How does this help you avoid bladed shots?
Bladed shots happen when you fret about getting the ball up in the air. Either you think about it too much and hit the ball with an uppercut or you try to “brush” the ground (which is 100% counterintuitive to your short game – please don’t listen to this advice if someone gives it to you). The result is that you hit the middle of the ball and you’re looking at a double bogey. By making sure to strike into the ground and not be so timid, you’re getting the club under your ball and letting the loft of your club do it’s job.
I’m not going to lie – I practice my short game more than any other part of my game, and for good reason – it’s devilishly hard. BUT, it’s a high risk, high reward part of the game that can leave you looking like a 40 handicap or Tiger Woods after he sunk his legendary hole-teasing chip shot at the Masters.
Leave your comments below on how you train for chip shots.
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