Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!

I see a ton of advice on how to chip the ball when you are greenside, and it can all be a bit confusing. So …. I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring with some thoughts on how to strike a greenside chip purely, with a couple of techniques for altering trajectory.

Let’s define a greenside chip as a chip anywhere from one foot to fifteen yards off the green. Beyond that distance, the shot turns into a pitch more often than not.

For what it’s worth, I occasionally use this greenside chipping technique for very long chips into the wind because it’s such a fail safe stroke method. At one particular par 5 hole that I play often – hole number 2 at Batavia CC – if I’m playing into a stiff wind, I use this method for my third shot into the green with an 8 iron from 80 yards all the time. It works like a charm, it knifes through the wind, and checks nicely on the green. It’s an easy swing without a lot of moving parts, and I like that.

First of all, whatever you do – take these techniques and work on your chipping stroke every day. Chipping improvement, perhaps even more than putting improvement, is absolutely a key to lowering your scores. You can develop a sound, repeating chipping stroke over the winter without much equipment at all.

You can practice your stroke mechanics anywhere, but to practice distance control (that’s touch folks) you need to find a practice green or a practice area.

Correct stroke mechanics must always precede touch.

CLUB SELECTION

I recommend a pitching wedge or gap wedge as the club of choice for greenside chipping – with the caveat that you will dedicate time to practice. I prefer the one club approach for most chipping situations, as long as the student practices.

Learn it, own it.

STROKE MECHANICS

Ball position depends on the lie: for a good lie play the ball about a half inch back from center, for a poor lie play the ball back more towards the rear foot.

Weight should be about 90% forward.

Crowd the ball a little bit.

Your hands should be choked down on the club and positioned well forward, just about touching your left thigh. This produces forward shaft lean.

Your left wrist should be straight, your right wrist should be slightly cupped (bent back), both wrists should be in good impact positions.

Weight forward, hands forward, ball just back from center.

Your stroke backswing should be arced slightly inside – not straight back, and the through strike should be slightly from the inside – to down the line – to slightly left.

Inside to inside.

This setup and stroke method requires an open stance to enable a ball flight that will start on your intended aimline. There is no unhinging of the wrists during the stroke, they stay in an impact position all the way. The hands are pulled or transported through the striking area by the left side turn and pull.

Rock and Turn. Rock it back inside, then turn and pull it through smoothly.

This will produce a relatively low chip with backspin every time.

TRAJECTORY ADJUSTMENTS

Here’s where there are a lot of differing opinions, here’s mine and it’s pretty simple:

To chip it higher, move the ball forward, open the clubface, open your stance. This will make your shaft lean a little less forward at address. Higher chips rollout less.

To chip it lower, move the ball back, adjust the clubface so it’s still square to your aimline. This will make your shaft lean a little more forward at address. Lower chips rollout more.

Take care to maintain your wrist positions during the stroke, especially when you try a higher shot. It’s very easy to flip the club and ruin the chip if you are not paying attention.

DISTANCE CONTROL ( TOUCH )

My philosophy on chipping is to use minimal trajectory in order to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. As such, I am not a spot chipper – where you aim for a landing spot then let it roll. I want my students to keep looking at the target and visualize their chip rolling out as if were a lag putt. You’ll absolutely get the ball to the hole more consistently thinking this way..

For putting, all of my students work on a “core” putting stroke. This is a short, smooth stroke, practiced for thousands of repetitions, that produces a consistent rollout every single time. It’s also the basis for the brain – body connection for altering stroke length for longer or shorter putts.

Along that line of thinking, I train my students to develop a short, smooth “core” chipping stroke, which can be perfected indoors over the winter.

After the stroke has been developed, you need to test your stroke on a chipping area or putting green to observe what rollout distance is produced as a result of your “core” chipping stroke. The ball should check, then rollout consistently – every time. BTW, this is one reason why it’s important to always play the same type of ball – so that your check and roll remains consistent. Don’t change balls frequently if you want to be a consistent chipper.

Prior to actually playing a round, – just like for putting – you need to hit a few “core” chipping strokes around the practice green. This sets your brain up for making “stroke length to distance” calibrations for when you get out on the course.

Then when you play, approach your greenside chips with a lag putt mindset, not a target landing mindset, and your chipping will improve greatly. Visualize it as a rolling chip, not a lobbed chip.

For chip shot target holes that fall short of the distance your “core” putt rolls out, alter the trajectory to higher and it will roll out less.

Practice and play this way and you will love the results!

If you want to learn the basics of this stroke so that you can practice it correctly over the winter, just contact me for a chipping lesson.

Make next year your best golf year by doing something now!

Love your practice, enjoy your golf,

Tom

Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.