How to Chip in Golf: A Complete Guide

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So, you’d like to learn how to chip in golf? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this “extensive” chipping tips step-by-step guide I’ll be sharing everything there is to know about chipping the golf ball, and as a result you’ll dramatically decrease your scores. This is a complete beginner’s guide to chipping, if you’re looking for some specific chipping drills I’ll be adding some soon.

The first step in any golf shot is the setup. This is no different when learning how to chip the golf ball.

Chipping Setup

Step 1 – Align

The first step in the setup is to take aim. So like any other shot in golf, the best way to do that is to line your clubhead up behind the ball before you set your body in position. This is the best way to be absolutely sure you align your shot up correctly. Which is particularly so regarding the chip shot. A good tip here is to keep your feet together as you line up your shot, it helps take the emphasis off your foot position and more on the actual shot alignment.

Step 2 – Set Feet & Ball Position

Now that we have the club lined up behind the ball the next step is to get the feet into position. You can set your feet up so that they’re 6 inches or less apart from each other at the heel, but no more than that. The narrower the stance the steeper your downswing will be, resulting in a cleaner contact with the golf ball. Don’t worry about balance here as the chipping swing is short.

The Golf ball should at this point be directly in-line with your sternum or middle of your chest. Making sure it’s in-line with the center of the chest you will help prevent an upward strike on the golf ball. This is crucial for clean contact on the ball. Reaching your upswing before you make contact with the ball can cause you to strike the ball on the sole of your club causing it to shoot across the green (otherwise known as skulling).

Step 3 – Opening the Foot & Hips

Now that your heels are at most 6 inches apart, your left foot (right for left handed golfers) should move slightly outwards away from the golf ball. This allows your swing to remain on target with the hole and with good contact on the ball. The next part of this step is opening the hips. To do this you simply bend your knees slightly so your golf shoe laces are just out of sight when looking directly down. You then stick your behind out slightly to straighten up that lower back. The bend in the knees gives you that solid base to swing from, and the straightness of the lower back opens up the space for the arms to swing freely throughout the golf swing.

Step 4 – Straighten the Shoulders

Now that the club, feet, hips, knees, and back are in position, the next part of the setup is to correctly align the shoulders. As with most golf shots, the shoulders should be square at setup. Having square shoulders enables you to remain on-line with your target throughout your swing. If your shoulders are open during your swing then you’re likely to cut across the ball causing it to shoot off line.

Step 5 – Hand & Weight Position

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You’re almost complete in the chipping setup however, the next 2 parts are perhaps THE 2 most important things to remember when trying to get more consistency in your chipping. Perhaps the more important of the two is where to put your weight. The majority of your weight (70%) should remain on your left foot (right foot for left handed players). This helps simplify the swing as it reduces the number of moving parts. Less movement means more consistent contact with the golf ball.

The next part of the final setup is the hand position. The hands should be slightly ahead of the golf ball. To check that you’re doing this right the grip on your club should be touching the inside of your front leg. The vast majority of fluffed chip shots occur when the clubhead takes over the hands in the downswing, this then causes an ascending impact with the golf ball, rather than a descending blow which is what you need.

The Chipping Stroke

The chipping stroke is similar in many ways as the putting stoke. Yes there are more parts involved, but the basis is pretty much the same. The chip shot is a longer version of your putting stroke, and as a result there’s more involved in the technique of a chip shot, but I’ll help you get this down to a tee (no pun intended) below.

Before we get into the swing/stroke technique let’s have a quick recap of what we already know about how to chip in golf:

  • Your hands should lead your clubhead in the downswing
  • 70% of your weight should remain on your front foot throughout the swing
  • The front foot and hips should be slightly open
  • Line up your shot before your feet & body
  • The ball should be inline with your sternum

Step 1 – The Backswing

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Unlike a full iron shot or hitting off the tee, you should start your backswing with your hands, arms, and shoulders together. 99% of the movement from the body comes from the upper half during the chip shot. Very little movement comes from the lower half of the body. Your weight should remain on your left foot (right for lefties) throughout, and your arms and wrists should remain relaxed. If you tense up your arms or wrists you’re clubface will stay closed during the downswing and cause the ball to shoot off to the left at impact. So instead, be sure to keep them loose, this will help keep the clubface open at impact and provide a cleaner contact with the golf ball.

Look at the picture to the right. We’re going to stick to hitting 8 o’clock on the backswing, anymore and you run the risk of over hitting the ball and missing the green. You’re going to let the club determine the distance for you in this case. If you’re chipping with just one club all of the time you’re going to have to be a Devil around the greens. This is why I’m advising you let the club determine distance, as it’s easier than using the backswing to. I’ll talk a bit more about club selection a little later on in this chipping tips guide.

Step 2 – The Downswing

As you start to bring your club back towards the ball it’s important you keep in rhythm with your whole body, everything moves together. Start with your hips then follow with your hands and arms. If you come out of rhythm and your hands begin to lead the swing you’re not going to get the contact you want. Remembering to keep your weight on the left foot and do not break the wrist, keep it flat throughout. This will ensure you’re in the best position ready for impact with the golf ball.

Step 3 – Impact Time

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Now we’ve got everything set it’s time to strike the ball. You will know if you kept your rhythm or not as you should now be back in the exact same position as your where at setup. Your hands should still be ahead of your clubhead if it’s not then you moved your hands too late in the downswing. Your hands have to be ahead of the club head at impact so you can get a more solid contact with the ball. Keeping your left hand flat ensures you don’t get behind the club head. Your weight should also still be on your left foot.

Step 4 – Follow through

So now you’ve made solid contact with the ball. Now, be sure to keep your weight on your left foot and your left hand flat throughout, and turn your hips slightly towards the target. Be sure to hold your swing after contact until the ball has finished rolling. This helps ingrain a feeling for your shots and how your swing has affected the path of the ball.

Additional Chipping Tips

  • Your arms should form a perfect V throughout the chip shot, no breaks.
  • To keep on line throughout the stroke imagine putting your club in the hole after impact.
  • Keep instinctive throughout. Don’t over-complicate what should be a simple natural movement.

Club Selection

I tell all my students that the simplest way to control distance around the greens when chipping is to pick the right club. The 9 iron should be used for short chips, the 7 iron for medium length chips, and the 5 iron should be used for longer chip shots. You should practice with each of these clubs often, and on a flat green if possible, just so you can work out the distances you achieve off each of the clubs. Also work on uphill and downhill greens too so you can master these distances as well.

Quick Chipping Video Lesson

I hope you get a lot out of this how to chip guide. Be sure to look out for more shot guides coming soon!