It seems like the new breed of players now have forgotten what a chip shot really is. So, what is a chip shot?
A chip is a shot that requires minimal ball flight and plenty of roll. It is executed with middle irons like a 6, 7 and an 8. It is also most recommended to use a chip shot around the green, starting from the fringe and a few more yards outside of the green. The objective is to carry over the fringe, or a part of the fairway, thereof, and allow the ball to roll through your intended target. The recommended maximum distance of a chip shot is approximately no longer than 30 yards.
Most players that I know of do their chip with a pitching wedge, a gap or approach wedge, and a sand wedge. The wedge pops the ball more upward, which defies the purpose of the chip shot. You can of course be creative, but putting things in perspective will clarify things better. It is recommended to make use of the wedges when the distance is about 25 yards or farther.
Setting up for a chip shot is a breeze. It is quite similar to a “putting stroke”. You can keep a comfortable stance and posture, with the club or the ball exactly between your feet. This will allow the ball to fly, according to the loft of the club you use. When you align the ball towards your right, the ball flight tends to go lower. It becomes higher when the ball is aligned to your left foot. The wider your stance, the more difference you will see.
In moving the club, I recommend that the hands, arms and shoulders be in one piece during the entire swing duration. Meaning, there is no breaking of the elbows and the wrists during the swing. The swing size is about ¼ swing and a maximum of 1/3 swing.
In establishing your distance with a 7 iron, execute a swing from your center (6:00 o’clock position), backswing at 4:00 o’clock position, and your follow through ending at 8:00 o’clock position. Practice this drill with your normal swing speed (tempo). Do the same drill with a 6 and an 8 iron, then record your distances.
Another way to practice your chip shots is to get, for example, a 20-yard distance target on a practice green. You can use the 6, 7, and 8 iron with the same tempo or swing speed. Make certain that the ball flight carries the green. You may notice that the 6 iron will obtain a smaller swing than the 8 iron.
Please remember that chipping is an important part of the game. Mastering your chip shots will definitely save you plenty of “putting” strokes.