Most golf instructors, myself included, teach a basic method for chipping and pitching techniques.

Not too many instructors – especially newer ones – are willing to vary their instruction from what they’ve been taught at their instructor certification schools from their professional organization, such as the PGA or USGTF.

More experienced instructors, like myself, have learned variations from the norm that we use in our instruction based on what we see when we initially teach the basic methods.

Here’s what I mean.

Most of my “new player” students have a built in “flipping” impulse because they all think that they need to flip the clubhead to get the ball airborne, and most of the time that’s going to produce a sub standard strike (flippers).

That student needs to be taught how to position their weight forward, then how to present the shaft of the club to the ball in a “forward shaft leaning position” to make solid contact with their chipping stroke. I call this type of stroke a “full compression” chipping stroke. If this student is strictly a casual player, he or she should probably use this method exclusively in order to always make good contact. It’s a stroke that doesn’t utilize any wrist motion or any lag, it’s dead armed and dead handed – but it still produces feel, and one can get quite good at it with practice.

Some students prefer and can be taught a “partial compression” chipping stroke, where they produce a more lofted chip by allowing the shaft to get a little more vertical at impact (sliders). This motion resembles a pitch shot in that there’s some wrist motion involved and you slide the club under the ball a bit vs. a more purely compressed strike that is obtained with more forward shaft lean.

Variations for chipping and pitching methods comes into play for these different students, because flippers have a hard time sliding the club under the ball without flipping, and slidershave a hard time getting maximum compression in a chip because they struggle with forward shaft lean.

Basic chipping involves very little motion with the hands, and basic pitch shots normally involve some lag, as well as some wrist setting and releasing.

Here are the valid variations that can be practiced to produce a high degree of proficiency.

Chip shots can be executed with wrist action if a player has deft touch and doesn’t overuse the hands. The resulting chip will check a little more and roll less than a “full compression” chip.Sliders should practice and probably use this chip shot method.

Pitch shots can be executed with dead hands and wrists, long arms, and no wrist set – as long as the player realizes that he or she needs enough clubhead speed, which they can obtain with a good pivot. They also will discover that they will probably only get about half the distance from the swing and the club that they would get if they hit the pitch shot with a more traditional method. Flippers should practice and probably use this pitch shot method.

Either method is valid if it allows you to accomplish the goal for the shot.

Know your tendencies and develop a short game around them, don’t use methods that conflict with your natural skills.

Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tom Tucker and Plum Creek Driving Range