I live in the northeast, and since moving here, I’ve seen the quality of my chipping slowly decline over the years. Partly for good reason (I can’t practise it half the year, when it’s cold and snowy) and partly for bad reason (because I generally don’t practise it as much as I should when I do have the chance).
But towards the end of last season, I started to see an uptick in my chipping performance, largely because, on the advice of lots of coaches, I focused on trying to simplify things. Not just in my technique, but in my approach. Rather than trying to get fancy and hit lots of different shots like the pros, I began opting for more high percentage, easy-to-hit shots around the green. And it started to work.
It’s pretty simple to try for yourself, too. Here’s how.
1. When in doubt, use the go-to low shot
Ultimately, the key to simplifying your chipping is to do more with less. Rather than becoming a master of none, get good at hitting one specific shot, and use it whenever you can.
The go-to most coaches recommend is a stock, lower shot.
“This isn’t a 60 yard pitch shot,” Golf IQ podcast co-host Reed Howard says. “This is a standard greenside chip that will carry about 20 feet, and roll out another 10 feet.”
As for how to hit it, Butch Harmon, like most coaches, recommends…
Leaning the shaft slightly forward
Ball slightly back in the stance
More weight on your lead side
You can use a variety of clubs for the shot. From a short iron (for a true bump-and-run) to a wedge for a slightly spinnier version. Either way, what’s most important is solid contact. It’s a simple move, and one that will become your go-to for most shots.
2. Understand bad lie ‘thud’
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in greenside rough, in which case you’ll need to use the ‘thud’ shot. The technique required most times will be similar to your go-to (though you’ll probably need to hit it a little harder).
What will change is the result. So even though the way you hit the shot is largely similar, you’ll need to understand the ball will come out with more of a thud, and you’ll need to aim more conservatively as a result.
“The ball is going to come out with no spin, the trajectory is more inconsistent,” Reed says. “If you hit 30 chips before the season gets going from bad lies, you’ll save yourself so many shots later on.”
3. Only go high when you *need* to
Sometimes, like when you’ve made the killer mistake of missing on the short side of the green or have a bunker between you and the hole, you’ll need to go high.
For this, you’ll need to adjust your technique by opening the clubface more, bringing the shaft closer to the ground, getting your weight more even on both legs, and making a bigger swing.
“You probably only use this shot about 15 per cent of the time,” Reed says. “When you don’t have much room for roll.”
Remember that this isn’t your go-to. Flop shots are fun, but treat them like a fire alarm. Only pull the lever when you really need to. Your scorecard will thank you for it.