As you try, you don't always hit the green with your regulation shot. So most of the time, you fall short of the green with your ball, you pass, or you miss it on the left or on the right. When this happens, and depending on the lay of the ball, you have to make the most intelligent decision. This decision often is to make a chip, a shot that requires just a particular method when hitting the ball.
For many, the best chipping player in history is South African Gary Player. Indeed, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy have exquisite techniques, and they do it very well, but Player always stood out above the rest with this shot.
Player won nine major tournaments and is one of the five professionals in history to achieve the Grand Slam in golf, which is nothing more than having the trophies of the Open Championship, the US Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters. His best-known nickname is "Black Knight", and he has a lesser-known one, "Mr. Fitness." The latter honors his physical condition and his way of training.
The chip shot is one of the most common shots golfers face on a golf course. To do it well, it is essential to have a consistent and effective technique, which allows you to make the best rollout of the ball towards the hole with confidence in different situations.
In this article, we will discuss different techniques at the time of a chip. But, for now, and as an introduction, it is worth seeing Player talks about the keys of mastering chips and the short game.
What is a Chip Shot, and When is it Made?
When you are less than 50 yards from the green, we can say that we have a "license to kill". What does this mean? That we have to do our best to hit the ball. In what way? With a short swing, making the ball rolls and close to the hole as possible.
The key moments to take a chip shot are:
- When your ball is in the greenside rough, you don't have an obstacle between your ball and the hole.
- When the putter is not the best option because of the relief you have.
- When you are on the fairway and want to travel the distance that separates you with a low ball trajectory, you perform the classic rollout.
Chipping is a shot that requires the club to move on its backswing and on the downswing at its hinge. It is such a short stroke that the position of the feet is not as important as in other situations. You can even have your feet together and hit with a precise method that allows you to get the best result.
To get the best out of this shot, you must make it comfortable executing it and being consistent while still using the solid technique.
The backswing method requires that you don't do it beyond chest height when bringing the club back. And on the downswing, keep your clubface consistent and in line with the flag.
Multiple champion Fred Couples suggests taking practice swings without looking at the ball and swinging with the wedge or iron used staring at the flag. This allows for greater focus on the target and better technique. Then, when executing the stroke, do so while keeping your eyes on the ball.
The Phil Mickelson Hinge-And-Hold Method
Without a doubt, one of the best around the green is Phil Mickelson. The southpaw solves his approach to the flag like no one else. And most importantly: he has a particular method, called Hinge-And-Hold. What does it consist of? Very simple: in turning the wrists in the backswing and maintaining that hinge during the downswing and inside the ball. The secret to this technique for hitting a chip is in the clubface, which consistently hits the ball and ensures a firm trajectory and a uniform loft. When turning and holding, the chipping is more solid, practical, and the rollout on the green than expected.
The best clubs when chipping
It is crucial to choose the club with which you will make the shot to hit the best chip. The most commonly used clubs are the 8 iron, the 9 iron, the pitching wedge, and the sand wedge. It all depends on the loft you need for your club. All of them allow you to have a good feeling when swinging to hit the ball.
For beginners, it is best to start with the pitching wedge, which allows for better balance. However, we also find golfers who use a hybrid to perform their chipping.
The important thing is that each golfer defines a criterion, a technique, and a method for these shots. For now, he can spend hours on the chipping green rehearsing his best shots, honing his technique, and defining a solid trajectory for his ball.
Tiger Woods is an excellent testimonial to the importance of hours of practice around the green. And, as he once said: "No matter how good you get, you can always get better -, and that's the exciting part."
Golf expert. Assistant for professional golfers on major tours for almost 20 years.