In today’s guide we are going to review several important golf chip tips to follow to help your short game improve. These tips are wide ranging from set up, to technique, to mental tips.
At the end of this guide you should feel confident on how to approach practice to improve your chipping. Screen shot or take notes on these tips and give them a try the next time you are at the golf course working on your short game.
What is Chipping?
Chipping in golf refers to one of the final shots where you are close by to the green and must make a partial swing (chip shots are never full swings) to get the ball onto the green so you can finish with putting.
It’s a short stroke where you only take the club back a few feet, usually no higher than your knees, unlike a drive where the club goes all the way up behind your head.
Why Chipping Is Important?
Most golfers love to focus on the drive and how far they can hit a golf ball. But the best golfers in the world have developed great short games that can save them par or bogey at worst when their golf swing isn’t having the best day.
In fact, even the best golfers in the world don’t reach every green. On average, golfers only hit about 50% of the greens if not less. That leaves more than half of the holes to rely on your chipping to still help you score par.
Chipping is a skill that takes lots of practice to develop but it can save you lots of strokes on your score. On holes where you miss the green, you can still rely on your chipping to get you close to the hole and save par.
Chipping vs Pitching?
You may be confused on the difference between chip shots and pitch shots. Both require small or half swings and both occur down near the green. So let’s quickly break down some differences so it’s clear when each type of shot should be used in your short game.
In short, pitching is when the ball flies farther than it rolls. Chipping is the opposite as the ball rolls farther than it flies.
Pitching is used when you are 20+ yards away from the green. The ball must fly 20+ yards in the air to get onto the green and then it’s only going to roll so many feet. So the ratio of flying distance to roll distance is heavy on the fly, less on the roll.
Chipping is when you are near the green, and the ball doesn’t have to fly very far to reach the green.
Why Is Chipping Classified as Short Game?
Short game is a golf term that refers to when the golf ball has a short distance left to the hole. Your long game is shots with your driver, fairway woods, and longer irons that primarily are used to move the ball long distances.
The short game comes down to skill as you try to hit the ball exact distances to get it as close to the hole as possible on the green.
So chipping is part of the short game because you are trying to hit the chip shot a certain, exact distance so that it ends up within a few feet or less of the cup. This makes putting easy when you have good chipping skills.
Let’s move on now to the chipping tips below that will help you build a good chipping skill set and improved short game.
Best Golf Chip Tips to Follow:
Tip #1: Keep the Chipping Motion Short & Simple
During a normal golf swing with your driver and irons, you must take a full back swing to generate lots of power and hit the ball far. With chipping, it’s a much shorter swing as we don’t need to power the ball but rather we need to finesse & control the ball to get it close to the hole.
To help with control, you only need a short backswing. It doesn’t take much to pop the ball out of the rough and get it rolling on the green.
Find a tempo that works for you. Ideally, you want a smooth tempo that is consistent on the back swing and through swing like a pendulum in a clock.
But some golfers find that the short back stroke, fast follow through stroke works best for them. This is known as a “stabbing” chip stroke.
Tip #2: Get Your Hands Involved
Unlike the putting stroke which keeps your hands quiet during the putt, with a chip shot we actually want to use our hands and get them involved in the chipping motion.
Since grass is surrounding the ball, you need to hinge the wrists on the back swing in order to lift the wedge out up away from the grass. The hinged wrists will also help you create a descending strike down into the golf ball to create crisp contact with the ball and avoid grass.
If you tried a putting stroke with your wedge, the wedge would collide with grass during the back swing and forward swing, ruining your contact with the golf ball.
Wedges require this steeper angle of attack into the ball and you can achieve this by practicing some wrist hinge on the take away.
Tip #3: Choose the Right Chipping Club
Another important tip to remember is choosing the right chipping club for specific types of chip shots. It’s recommended that most golfers carry at least two different clubs for chipping. This could be a high lofted wedge like a 60 degree or 64 degree wedge. You also can carry a lower lofted wedge for more roll out like a 52, 54, 56 degree wedge.
The high lofted wedge is great choice when you want to hit higher arching chips that land softly and roll very little upon landing. For example, trying to hit over a bunker and then land the ball on the green and stop it quickly next to the hole.
A lower lofted wedge is great for chips that can’t be putted with a putter but need to get rolling on the green quickly like a putt. For example, if you just missed the green and sit on the edge of the rough.
You don’t need much power to chip the ball onto the green and you want to get it rolling as quickly as possible like a putt the rest of the way to the hole for more consistent results.
Tip #4: Check Your Weight Distribution
If you watch this chipping video on YouTube, you’ll learn how to properly adjust your weight distribution for chip shots.
Some golfers find that leaning with more weight on the front foot vs the back foot works better for them to make solid, crisp contact with chip shots. Others may find it works better to have more weight distributed on the back foot, so it really depends on personal touch and technique developed.
However, most professionals recommend the front foot receiving more weight so your body stays more calm and quiet during the chipping stroke.
Tip #5: Quiet Your Mind
Another culprit to bad chipping performance is having negative mental thoughts going on in your head when you are setting up for a chip shot. If you think you’re going to hit a bad chip shot, then you most likely are going to hit a bad chip shot.
Instead, infuse your brain with positivity. Believe in yourself that you can pull it off, and you’ll find that this confidence boost helps you start to quiet your mind and not even think anymore when chipping.
If you can hit great chip shots with minimal thinking, then you are on track for a great short game performance! Don’t let fear mess up a good round of golf.
Tip #6: Choke Down on Your Club
One way to gain more control is to shorten the distance from your hands to the clubhead. Most golfers will notice that it is easier to hit short irons as compared to drivers, woods, and long irons. This is because the club is much shorter and easier to control.
Take this same approach with your wedge. It’s already one of the shortest clubs in the bag, but choke down some to give even more control to your chips. Try it out and you’ll begin to see the difference and confidence you develop.
Tip #7: Find the Perfect Ball Position
Here is a chart showing the recommended ball position for each of your clubs.
With chipping, you can try moving the ball forward, neutral, and backwards in your stance to see what feels most comfortable and works best for you. Most golf professionals will have a strong opinion on what works best for them but in reality, ball position can work just fine in any of the 3 mentioned positions. It’s just important that you keep it consistent for the majority of your chips.
You’ll notice professional golfers will actually adjust ball position when they are trying to pull off different types of specific golf shots. For example, on a low chip shot with lots of roll, they move it back in their stance more to flight the ball lower.
Phil Mickelson, for example, moves the ball very far forward when he is about to hit a flop shot. This allows him to sweep the ball off the turf like he would with a forward ball position for his driver.
Tip #8: Analyze Your Lie
Before deciding on club selection or ball position you should first analyze your lie. Look at what type of grass, sand, mud, or fringe that your ball is sitting in. Decide how easy or difficult it will be to pick it clean and then choose the right club for the shot.
Some types of grass are thicker than others. Deep rough, for example, will be thick and tough to hit out of with lower lofted wedges. You’ll need a high lofted wedge and open up the face to help pop the ball up out of the thick grass.
In lower or bare spots like on greenside fringe, you should be more cautious with high lofted clubs as they can “blade the shot” across the green, as it’s known in golf terms. Instead focus more on a lower lofted wedge that can pop the ball up a little bit but then land on the green and begin rolling the majority of the way to the hole.
Tip #9: Visualize the Chip Shot
Before hitting your chip shot, you should look at where your ball sits in the rough. Then look at the green and visualize where you need to land the ball on the green.
Once you pick your landing spot, visualize the full shot again imagining it flying up into the air, landing on the desired spot on the green, and watch it roll on the green to the hole.
Now set up and execute this chip shot!
Mentally preparing and visualizing the chip shot is powerful because it gives you a game plan, helps you gain confidence in the shot, develops feel, and statistics show that you’ll perform better overall.
Tip #10: Adjust the Face Position Open for Flop Shots
One of the most fun chip shots that golfers like to practice is known as the “Flop Shot.” It requires a high lofted wedge to pop the ball up high into the air and land softly.
To gain additional loft, you’ll notice that the professional golfer’s club face gets opened up by turning the club handle to the right for right handed players. Having an open face, flattens the wedge face so it’s able to slide easier underneath the golf ball and pop it up in addition to all the extra loft it’s adding.
A wide open wedge face turns a 60 degree angled wedge into an almost 90 degree angled wedge.
Tip #11: Adjust the Face Position Closed for Low, Bump & Run Shots
On low shots that have lots of roll and less carry distance, you’ll want a less lofted wedge. If you don’t have a wedge with a lower loft angle, you can choose an iron like an 8 or 9-iron.
But you can also adjust the face of your existing wedge to a more closed off position to decrease the loft angle. This requires turning the grip/handle on the club to the left for right handed golfers.
As a result, the face shuts more relative to the ground and produces a lower flighted wedge shot with less backspin so it can roll more on the green. Closing the face may also get paired with moving the ball back in your stance to help create crisp contact and low ball flight.
Tip #12: Read the Green Before Chipping
Whether you are putting or chipping, you should always read the green first to understand the slopes and ridges of the green that will impact your golf ball as it rolls across the green’s surface.
If you struggle with reading greens, first start by analyzing the high and low points. Where is the tallest or highest part of the green? Where is the lowest part of the green? These high and low points will help you identify the slope and hills on the green.
For example, if the front of the green is the low point and the green is raised in the back portion, this green would be sloping uphill from front to back.
Once you understand if you are chipping uphill or downhill, you’ll be able to adjust your chip shot strategy to give more or less power depending on how much slope there is.
If you are on the sides of the green, you’ll be able to see that you need to chip the ball on the high side a few feet above the hole to account for break. Because as the ball rolls across the green, it will be pulled down the slope from gravity, causing break.
Tip #13: Add Power by Clubbing Down
In the previous chipping tip we talked about times you’ll face uphill chips. This will require more power on the chip shot to get it up the slope. Same with downhill chips requiring less power because the slope will naturally take the ball down to the hole.
One way to offset the slope slowing down your ball is to club down to a lower lofted wedge or iron. This will take off backspin on the chip shot, allowing the ball to roll more.
For example, if you normally chip with a 56 degree wedge, try clubbing down to a 52 degree wedge or a 9 iron or 8 iron. Experiment to find what’s comfortable for you and notice how much easier chipping uphill becomes when you use lower lofted clubs.
You don’t have to hit the ball very far with these clubs. You can land it sooner on the green and get it rolling since the lower loft produces more roll on the chip shot.
Tip #14: Take off Power by Clubbing Up
If you face a downhill chip shot, you don’t want to land the ball as close to the hole as you normally would on a flat surface. The downhill slope will not stop the ball as quickly as a flat surface chip shot, so you need to account for this by taking power off the chip shot.
In other words, take away roll by adding more backspin to the ball. To do this, you’ll need to add loft to your wedge which can be done by opening the wedge face more or by changing clubs to a wedge with a higher loft.
This extra backspin that gets applied to the golf ball will help it stop quicker and not roll as much, to off-set the extra roll the ball will pick up from the downslope.
Tip #15: Practice, Practice, Practice
Our final golf chip tip is to practice your chipping a lot! Spend at least a few hours a week on just chipping if you want to quickly improve. It doesn’t take long of doing this schedule to get into a groove and feel comfortable with your wedge.
As you build more feel with your wedge, you’ll find it much easier to get your chips close to the hole and save pars.
During practice, aim to chip at least 100 balls. Remember guys like Michael Jordan who took thousands of jump shots each week? Take this approach to your golf practice and hit hundreds if not thousands of chips each week.
This is the one true way you’ll improve your chipping and build skill with your wedge(s).
You can also practice chipping at home, indoors, or in your backyard. There are many great indoor chipping drills you can do to work on chipping from the comfort of home if you don’t have time to make it to the golf course every week.
Conclusion on Golf Chip Tips
Overall, chipping is a skill you’ll need to excel at golf and score lower for 9 & 18 holes. Chipping can save your game when your swing is struggling to hit greens.
To improve chipping, start by focusing on technique. Start by analyzing your grip, don’t death grip squeeze the wedge. Give your hands some flexibility to hinge on the backstroke and help strike down on the ball. Choke down for more control, and find a ball position in your stance that feels comfortable.
Visualize your chip shots, read the green so you can visualize the roll once the chip lands on the green. Look for water like streams or ponds near the green that could help signify the low point in the green as water runs downhill and pools up in low spots typically.
As long as you have a good set up and chipping motion, the rest comes down to practice and getting familiar with different types of chip shots you will face during a golf round. Practice these scenarios by making up games and drills on the practice green.