How To Chip In Golf: Beginners Guide

Last Updated on September 18, 2022

Chipping is a tricky business. You may feel like you’ve been hitting well all day, but when it comes time to chip your golf ball from the fringe, a hazard, or rough area, suddenly things go south. It’s not always easy to execute a great shot in one try but we have some tips that can help make this easier for you.

In this article we discuss how to chip in golf: what equipment you’ll need, tips for getting started, and more!

What is a chip shot?

A chip shot is a short distance approach golf shot that you make when your lie is near the green. This means from anywhere within about 40 yards or less from the green.

Sometimes you can just use your putter to run up close to the pin.

The goal when chipping is to get the ball onto the green in one try – this can be difficult if you are not used to doing it!

Reasons You Need To Know How To Chip

Making a chip shot is a very important skill to have if you want to score well on the golf course. Even if your drives and long iron shots are on point, if you can’t chip and putt effectively then you’re going to struggle to make pars and birdies.

Even the best golf pros only get on the green about 77% of the time. Here are some reasons why it’s so important to know how to chip in golf:

  • You need to get over a hazard like a sand trap for example – this means that a chip shot may be your best option for getting on the green.
  • You can save strokes by getting up and down from around the green. Saving strokes is what playing good golf is all about.
  • The majority of golf takes place in the short game. Knowing even a basic chip shot will greatly lower your handicap.

What is the best way to chip?

Use your putter

Using your putter is the best way for new golfers to chip. If you lack the confidence to make a good chip shot with a wedge club because you don’t know if you can, use your putter. Especially when you only need to get a few feet closer.

I played with a guy last week that used his putter for every shot within 40 yards of the green that was in the fairway. Just rolled it up on the putting surface.

Otherwise chipping is almost always the same no matter the situation your golf ball is in or the club you use.

Bump and Run

We’ll focus on two of the most common methods. The first is called the bump and run. This involves hitting the ball low so it runs when it gets to the green.

Float the Ball

The second method is known as the lob shot. In this case, you hit the ball high so that it will not roll much when it lands.

Chipping setup

Keep your left arm straight and your left wrist flat. Your shoulders, arms, and hands should form a triangle and you need to maintain that triangle through the swing. You should not need to break your wrists.

Bring your feet closer together with most of your weight on your left foot. The closer they are the less likely you are to shift your weight. Angle your feet toward the hole to allow you to swing more easily along your target line.

Use your left arm to guide your swing. Your right arm should remain close to your body.

Keep your head down and focus on making a good short game golf swing.

Ball position

With your feet slightly facing the hole, make sure the ball is positioned in front of your right toe.

Here are the basic tips for how to chip:

  • Keep your hands forward during the swing. This helps you chip clean.
  • Choke down on the club. That is, hold it lower on the grip toward the club head. This allows you more control.
  • Keep your left wrist straight. It is a very short golf swing. If you have to bend your left wrist, you are pitching.
  • Keep your feet close together. If you have to open your feet, maintain balance slightly forward or on your left side.
  • Use a smooth putting like stroke.

What club do I use to chip?

You can chip a golf ball with any club.

Exactly what club you use depends on where you are and how comfortable you are with that club.

If you are right next to the green you will use a different club than if your golf ball is in the sand trap or have a hazard between you and the putting surface.

Wedges used to chip in golf | Pitching wedge, lob wedge, sand wedge, 10-iron, gap-wedge

As a beginner, you may want to use the same golf club for all your short game shots until you get comfortable with the basic technique.

Start with any wedge and stick with it until you can swing smoothly and consistently chip the correct distance to get near the hole.

Using different clubs to chip

Although it is possible to use the same wedge for your whole chipping game, you need to consider the situation to best address the lie and shot you are trying to make.

Here are my recommendations for what clubs to use:

Putter

Up to 10 feet off the green with a tight lie and short grass between you and the green. Be sure to make a smooth swing and avoid contact with the ground. You are going to need enough speed to get on and continue to the pin.

Woods: Driver, 3-wood, hybrid

These are similar to the putter. maintain the same chipping technique and ball position as you would the putter. Choke down on the grip and use a putting stroke for your swing.

Irons: 7-iron or 5-iron

Bump and run, when you need to carry fringe or the pin is far from where your lie is. Swing the club like you would your putter, but now you are using a slightly larger swing.

You need to contact the ball as close to the grass as possible, but make sure to keep a short swing.

Wedges: Gap wedge, Pitching wedge, Lob wedge, Sand wedge:

Use in longer grass, longer rough, or sand traps. Just remember, the more lofted club you use, the trickier the shot is. It takes superior skills to hit a good lob shot. For shorter chips, it may make more sense to putt.

Should I carry multiple wedges?

Remember you can only carry 14 clubs in your bag.  However, most sets of clubs these days don’t come with 2-irons and most people cant hit a 3-iron, so taking those out always makes room for more wedges.

I still find myself most often using the 10-iron to chip.

If you’re not sure whether you should carry multiple pitching wedges, ask yourself how often you find yourself needing to make a pitch shot. If you think you’ll need it on most holes, then it’s a good idea to bring more than one.

However, if you only plan on using the club occasionally, there’s no need to carry more than on wedge. I carry a lob wedge for “just in case” scenarios, but rarely use it.

Key considerations for making good chip shots

The most important thing is to let the club do the work. Most golfers that have a short game tend to try to scoop the ball. Golf clubs are designed to lift the golf ball, so don’t try to scoop it. If you hit down, the ball will go up.

Lining up your shot properly is also key. Be sure you are swinging toward your target. This may not always be the pin, since now you need to consider the break as with a putt.

Common mistakes when making a chip shot

The two most common mistakes when making a chip shot are hitting the ball too hard and not using a gentle swinging motion. When you hit too hard, it becomes difficult to control and results in a mishit.

When you don’t use a gentle swinging motion, you risk sculling the ball (hitting the ball thin) or hitting the ground behind the ball and hitting the ball fat.

#1: Hitting the ball too hard

A chip is a short shot where we are just trying to carry over a short amount of fairway or some type of hazard. Do not use a full swing. The key to remember in this shot is distance control.

New golfers tend to start out using a longer swing than necessary to make the proper shot.

Relax, breathe easy and let the club do the work.

#2: Not using a gentle swinging motion

New younger golfers tend to hit the ball too hard. Think of a pendulum. Nice and easy back and forth. Ease the club back and stroke through the ball with a smooth tempo.

Remember distance control is key. We lose control when we make poor contact with the ball. We make poor contact when we don’t have a good balance and make a gentle golf shot.

Swing smoothly, don’t hit.

#3: Improper balance

In most chipping situations, you want the majority of your weight to be on your front foot. The chipping motion is performed using mostly the upper body. A common mistake is to shift your weight back and forth.

#4: Bad ball position

If the ball is too far forward in your setup, you risk hitting behind the ball or coming up on it thin. Keep the ball centered in your stance, or even slightly back. This will prevent bad ball hits.

How do I get better at chip shots?

There is no quick fix. Even junior golfers spend thousands of hours running golf drills to perfect their chip shots. The only way to improve your chip shot is to practice chipping.

It takes hours of practice and years to become a great chipper. Learning key fundamentals will take tons of strokes off your score.

Getting better at chip shots: #1 Shag bag method

shag bag chipping practice green

The best way to practice is with a shag bag in an area that allows you to make chip shots to a practice green. Most golf courses have these areas often with chipping set up away from the putting area.

Start close and move farther back until you can no longer keep your right wrist straight when you take a back-swing.

At this point, you move to the pitch which we cover in another article.

Getting better at chip shots: #2 Driving range

Going to a driving range is another option. You can keep your chipping clubs with you in your car and stop in only to work on chipping with a single basket of balls.

At the driving range, you can’t move back, you have to change where you are aiming.

If you do go to a range, try to find one that allows you to hit off of grass. Mats work, but are not ideal to practice making good contact. Often a bad shot does better when your club bounces off of the mat.

Additionally, you can’t truly judge ball running or ball roll since your ball is not landing on putting surface-style grass.

Getting better at chip shots: #3 Backyard method

Learning how to chip in golf can start in your backyard. This is a great method. Just get a swag bag full of balls and head out your door.

You probably don’t have your grass cut as short as the golf course, so you would be practicing chipping from the rough.

No matter the practice method you choose, be sure to stick to the fundamentals and maintain the same alignment. You can use another club on the ground as an alignment rod to help you see your line to the target.

Any of the practice methods will improve your game. The key is to do it thousands of times until you gain muscle memory and confidence to make a smooth swing and good ball contact.

Chipping vs Pitching

A chip is performed when you are close to the green. A pitch is when you are farther away. The key difference is the amount of power you need to get to the green. With a chip, you can hit the ball while keeping your left wrist straight.

You only need to move your club back and forth about waist high. If you have to break your wrists or bring your hands above your waist or shift your weight back, you are making a pitch shot.

Wrapping up and my experience with chip shots

Chip shots can be very rewarding when you make a great one. As with any other golf shot, it takes practice to get good at chipping. So start practicing.

Knowing how to chip in golf is essential to being more confident and scoring better. Be patient and consistent with your practice and it will become a normal shot to hit your ball close to the pin.

Remember, if you are ever in doubt about which club to use for a chip shot, just use your putter.

Good luck on the course!

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