Chip Shot Techniques

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Learning the Chip Stroke … four goals


Dead Hands … the “Y” formed at address will be maintained throughout the entire stroke motion; at no time will the amount of wrist cock be increased or decreased; the hands are passive connectors; the motion is controlled by the movement of the arms

  1. “It’s Just a Putt”!  With concept in mind, learn to chip by using your lag putting stroke as the basis for the chip stroke.  From about 3-4’ off the green, select a lag putt target about 35-40’ across the green.  As you would for a lag putt, visualize a 10’ yellow blanket covering the hole (your short putt 90% zone). 
  2. Tee a ball about ½” off the ground.  Using your putter, execute the 5-part setup routine with chip modifications (hands forward, ball back, clubface open, shoulders open and 60/40 weight distribution favoring the front foot.  With your thumbs on the flat part of the putter grip, putt the ball with you focus on not letting your wrists break on either the backstroke or coming through the ball.  Swing your arms in the direction of your open shoulder alignment
  3. When you are comfortable you are NOT using your wrists and that the stroke is a shoulder and arm motion, switch the putter for an 8-iron.  Do exactly the same thing with the 8I as you were doing with the putter … just putt the ball with a lofted club.  The ball will still be teed up about ½”.  If you were using your putting grip, continue to do so.  Your performance objective is to duplicate the putting stroke.  Your attention can be focused on swinging the “Y” shape down at the tee.
  4. Retain the "Y" ... the blue dashed line on the R hand image shows how the lowercase "y" formed at address is retained through impact.  In a normal swing the lowercase "y" is transformed into an uppercase, capital "Y".  This is NOT the case with chipping.  The handle of the club leads the clubhead throughout the release, impact and early followthru positions.

Limited Backswing … the length of the backswing will be limited to the hands moving no further back than a 7-8 zone; at no time will the hands move more than 3-4” past the right knee

  1. When you are comfortable that you are putting with an 8I, the next step is to learn to limit the length of your backstroke. Your thumbs will move into a “soft zone” between the 7-8 o’clock position.
  2. This zone is generally opposite your back knee.  Stopping just short of your knee will be about 7 o’clock.  Moving just past your knee will be about 8 o’clock.
  3. You will move your thumbs into this zone by feel.  There is never an exact position.  The sense of touch you will develop with practice will subconsciously tell you how much swing you need.  Your job is to trust you senses.

Strike the Ball … the forward swing will be a firm, committed, accelerating motion into and through the back of the ball

  1. There is no such thing as a “finesse” stroke for amateur players and there usually isn’t much margin for error for even the best players.  The backstroke always shorter than the forward stroke.  A longer forward stroke is proof that you struck the ball with an accelerating stroke
  2. With the ball still teed up, strike downward and forward into the tee.  As your skill improves, systematically lower the tee until it is flush with the ground.  The tee is always your aiming point, even when it is not there on the course.
  3. While you want to make a descending swing into the ball, you do not want to hit either fat or thin.  You will have to do some experimentation to find the exact, bottom dead center of your swing arc down into the ball.  This means moving your stance forward or backward relative to the ball.  This is best done making “brushing” strokes on a piece of low carpet rather on inconsistent turf.  If you are using a putting stroke, there will be a point where the club consistently touches the ground.  This point is where you do not have to try to help the ball into the air (the loft of the club will do that) nor do you have to fear hitting “chunked” shots.

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