Chipping is one of the most frustrating parts of the game, for me at least.
It never seems to be the same distance or lie every time. It isn’t like hitting a driver or that 150-yard second shot where you know the distance and know exactly how to attack it. You face a variety of different obstacles when chipping on to the green. So I looked up these helpful tips for this week’s golf tips. They may not only be for your benefit as I am going to have to use these too, because my chipping game needs some work.
Here we go!
Tin Cup had the yips before his US Open practice round. Thankfully, Romeo straightened him out. But the chipping yips are real and very frustrating. You go up visualizing your shot, figuring out your distance and thinking you are going to execute it perfectly. You also think about the dreaded yips and seeing the ball go about three feet in front of you, catching the side hill of the green and rolling right back to your feet. The yips are just anxiety and fear of dulling the shot. In other words, it is all in your head. If you are in the middle of the yips, try hitting 20 practice shots. Using practice will take away any of the pressure. When practicing, do not even worry about hitting the ball towards a target or hole. The hole is what adds that unnecessary pressure because you want to get it as close to your target as possible. Instead, just chip and chip and chip. Do not worry about where the ball goes; just focus on hitting a clean crisp shot. Then take that swing to your round and you will be cured.
All about distance
The hardest part about chipping is knowing your distance. Most players chip with the same club every time. I usually chip with a sand wedge because I always get too much release from a pitching wedge. I usually have to adjust my swing speed in order to make up for difference distances. I have found out this strategy is unreliable both from reading and from experience. Now I have learned I should let the club do the work. Next time I go out to practice, I am going to drop 10 balls off of the practice green and use different clubs of different lofts. I will pick out a landing spot on the green and I will go through my bag of irons. I am going to take note and see how far each shot goes for each different iron. Then I will be able to decide which iron I should chip with when I am playing a live round. I will keep you posted on how that works for me, but I think it will help create a consistent swing and better results.
Let your hands lead
Many times when players blade or stub chip shots it is because of hand position. If the club head gets out in front of your hands, you will blade the ball every time and you could be chipping from further away than you started. If you get them too far out in front, you will hit behind the ball and get the beginning stages of those dreadful yips we talked about earlier. Be sure to practice your chipping and keeping your hands ahead of the club. Find that perfect position and make sure to imitate that every time. If you end a point that is too far out in front, make a mental note of it and mark that as your limit. If you really need to, get an alignment rod to help. As soon as you found that limit and that consistency, you will find your chipping game will improve drastically.
Look at the grain
One of the toughest chip shots is when you are trying to hit the ball against the grain of the grass. Many times, hitting against the grain will stop your club and cause a duff. So, instead of hitting down on the ball like a normal chip shot, try to sweep the ball off of the grass by hovering your club like a bunker shot. Try not to ground your club on setup because you will be more incline to try and strike down on the ball. Just try to sweep the ball off of the ground and you will avoid hitting against the grain and possibly stubbing your club. Keeping an eye on the grain of the grass is essential in hitting a good chip shot.
Keep your head down!
You have heard it a million times and it was as annoying the first time as it was the last. Every time you top a shot or hit it thin, there is always that one guy who will tell you to keep your head down. Even when you make it a point to keep your head down and you don’t even look at the fight of the ball and still duff it, the most annoying four words in golf will be spoken, you can count on it. In all actuality, it isn’t your head moving but it is your arms. A lot of times, these shots happen because you bring your arms in closer to your body on your swing thanks to an over concentration of trying to make contact. Let your arms extend towards the ball to make contact keeping them loose and free. Keep your grip loose and let your arms be natural. That is a great way to never hear those words again.
Hit and stick
You see it all of the time when watching the pros. They hit a chip shot that carries all the way to the hole, it hits once and stops or spins back towards the hole. You can do this too. Play the ball in the middle of your stance and use your sand of lob wedge. Catch the ball cleanly and “nip” it off of the grass without taking a divot. Make sure your hands release on the backswing. The mixture of your hands and the cleanliness of your stroke will create a ton of backspin causing your ball to hit and stick. Be sure to practice this first before implementing it in your round. Once you master this technique, you will see some lower scores.