BOSTON, Mass – You’ve heard the slogan, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” But if you really want to take a little money from your buddies, one sure way to do it is to become a better chipper of the golf ball.
Most amateurs don’t hit many greens in regulation. But if you can chip the ball close to the pin with consistency, your score will be lower.
Chipping is all about technique. You need to understand ball position, set-up, arm action and body rotation. It also won’t hurt to spend less time at the range hammering drivers and more time at the practice green working on chipping drills.
With that said, here are some tips that will have you chipping close to the pin on a regular basis.
1. The Set-Up
The set-up is the foundation for a successful chip. Position the ball in the center of your stance or slightly off your back foot, with 60 to 70 percent of your weight on your front foot. Take a narrow stance that is slightly open to the target line and keep your shoulders level. Keeping your feet close together makes it easier to turn your body, which is critical, while making sure your weight is slightly forward promotes a slightly descending blow. The open stance will allow your body to rotate to the finish.
2. The Swing
Your upper body should swing the golf club, while your arms and wrists remain quiet. Therefore, you must keep your left arm and wrist (for a right-handed golfer) straight and firm during the shot. You should feel like your arms are riding along with your chest as you take the club back and follow through. There should be little to no wrist hinge. When the wrist breaks down and flips over, the loft on the club changes, resulting in sculled or fat shots, and, even worse, the dreaded yips. If you’re having trouble keeping your wrist firm, try this in practice: take a thick rubber band and wrap it around your wrist. Slide the butt end of the club under the rubber band, keeping it close to the wrist. This will help you get the proper feel when chipping.
3. Common Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t try to lift the ball into the air; let the loft of the club do the work. Maintain a straight-up spine. Don’t tilt back. Don’t try to “hit” the ball, which will cause you to become too handsy and flip at the ball. Remember, there’s no wrist action with a chip shot. And don’t forget to rotate your lower body.
4. Drill It Home
Watch the pros on the practice range and you will always see them working on some sort of drill. Strangely, amateurs hardly ever do this. Once you understand chipping technique, spend time fine-tuning it so that it becomes second nature.
Try this drill, which will help you keep your wrist from breaking down, is the “trail-hand release drill.” For this, make your normal swing, but drop your trail hand off the club just before impact and focus on keeping your left arm swinging directly towards the target. If you’re struggling with sculling chip shots or the yips, this drill will provide a welcome cure by training your body not to flip the trail hand right before impact.
Finally, here’s a drill you can do at home. Try chipping a coin off your living room carpet into a cup. This drill forces you to stay down through the chip and trains you to make crisp contact.
Follow these tips and drills and add a dose of confidence over your next chip. Enjoy!