Like any golf shot, preparation helps ensure solid ball contact and the desired flight pattern. The chip uses the standard golf setup presented in step 2 but with three modifications:
- The majority of weight (approximately 80 percent) is on the target-side foot.
- The ball is in front of the back (nontarget-side) foot.
- The hands are forward of the ball, in front of target-side thigh.
These three adjustments work together to give the club head a slightly descending angle into the ball, resulting in the crisp contact necessary for a controllable chip shot. Because the chip shot requires a short swing with little force, the feet are closer together than on a full swing and the target-side foot is turned out a bit more.
Accuracy is a critical element of a successful chip shot. To improve the accuracy of a chip shot, begin by standing behind the ball looking at the hole. Next, pick out a target (landing area). Visualize the ball landing on your target and then rolling along a line to and into the hole. Finally, pick out an intermediate target (something in front of and near the ball that will help you set up directly parallel to the target line). Move up to the ball, place your club behind the ball, and square it to your intermediate target. Then make the three adjustments to the setup: First, place about 80 percent of your weight on your target-side foot, and keep it there throughout the swing. Second, position the ball back in the stance, directly in front of the big toe of your nontarget-side foot. Third, grip down on the handle so that you almost touch the shaft and position the grip of the club in front of your target-side thigh. These three adjustments will help you make clean, solid contact with the golf ball and produce a predictable flight and roll.
Because the ball does not travel a great distance in a chip, the shoulders provide all the power necessary for this shot. Setting the lower body by bending the knees and maintaining that position throughout the swing makes the chip shot easier to execute. In the chip shot, the lower body is used only for balance; too much lower-body action makes it difficult to contact the ball squarely. Once you set your feet, legs, and hips, they should be relaxed but move little throughout the swing.
With the body set in the proper address (figure 3.1a), the next phase is the stroke. Think of the stroke as a rocking motion of the shoulders, much like a putt. Initiate the backswing by turning your shoulders away from the target (figure 3.1b). Initiate the downswing by returning the shoulders back to and through their original position. The arms and shoulders form a triangle; the hands and club represent the apex. Because the shoulders provide most of the movement, the triangle is maintained throughout the swing. To promote a steeper angle back to the ball and achieve a crisper shot, the wrists hinge slightly up on the takeaway. The length of the shot determines the length of the backswing. The farther the ball must travel, the longer the backswing must be.
The chip shot is a single, smooth motion. The club travels back from the ball and then returns to and through the ball with the golfer in a balanced position (figure 3.1c). Because the weight is loaded to the target side during the address, there is little lower-body movement. The primary chipping motion is made with the shoulders; the hands and arms naturally follow the shoulders.
Allow the club to follow through to finish about the same distance as the club traveled on the backswing (figure 3.1d). In the follow-through, body weight is primarily on the target-side foot, the left wrist (for a right-handed player) remains straight, the hips and shoulders angle toward the target, the club face points directly on the line the ball just traveled, and the body is balanced.
You hit on top of the ball, resulting in no loft.
Flipping the wrists when contacting the ball normally causes this error. If the wrists bend, the sole of the club, rather than the club face, strikes the ball. Keep your wrists firm and practice the Address drill.
You hit behind the ball, striking the ground first and losing distance on the shot.
If too much weight is on the back foot at the point of contact, you will hit behind the ball. At address, shift approximately 80 percent of your weight to the target side of your body, and keep it there throughout the stroke.
The ball goes too far or stops short of the hole.
Try checking the loft of the club. A lower loft results in a lower trajectory and more run to the ball (i.e., the longer the ball will roll on the green toward the hole), while a higher loft results in a higher trajectory, softer landing, and less run (i.e. the less the ball will roll toward the hole). Practice the Club Selection drill. Also make sure the length of the backswing and forward swing are the same. Practice the ladder drill.
Figure 3.1 Executing the chip shot
- Grip down on the club so that the hands are close to the shaft.
- Position the hands ahead of the ball, in front of the target-side thigh.
- Bend the knees.
- Position the ball in front of the back (nontarget-side) foot.
- The body weight favors the target side of the body.
- Use the lowest lofted club that will carry the ball 3 to 6 feet (.9 10 1.8 maters) onto the green and allow it to roll to the hole.
Backswing and Downswing
- Follow your preshot routine (same as for putting).
- The hands remain ahead of the club head all the way through the stroke.
- Use the shoulders to turn away from and then back to and through the ball.
- The club face is square to the target line on contact.
- The backswing and downswing are approximately the same length.
- Keep the head and lower body still for better club and ball control.
- Finish with your weight on the target side of the body.
- The shoulders and hips face the target.
- The forward swing is the same length as the backswing.
- Keep the target-side wrist straight.