Learning how to chip is more complicated than getting down the proper form. Once you know the proper setup and swing technique you still have to execute your shot. Part of executing is to get a shot in mind and then select what club to use. Let’s look at a few different strategies golfers use.
One Club For All Shots
Too many golfers take out a pitching wedge or a sand wedge for every single shot they make around the green. On one hand I understand where they are coming from. Their thought process normally runs somewhere along the lines of “why not get comfortable with one club” and be able to adapt it to different situations.
One Club for Chip Shots
Other players use a wedge for every pitch shot, but when they are faced with a lot of green and need to hit a chip shot will go with a 7-iron or an 8-iron. The two option approach is an improvement over a one-size fits all, but the player is still limiting himself on what he can do around the green.
Expanding Your Options
While I agree that you need to get comfortable using a club for a certain kind of shot being hitting it, I recommend you use as many options as possible. This will allow you to use the same swing over and over again, and allow the loft of the club to do the work in giving you the different type of shot required.
The two variables to look at are how close you are to the green (determining how much carry you need) and how far you are from the hole (which tells you how much roll you need). I recommend you go all the way down to a 4-iron on long chips when you are close to the green and if it’s a short chip shot with some extra carry you might even be able use a lob wedge.
Learning How to Chip With Each Club
In order to start getting an idea of what club to chip with, go to the practice green and go through this practice routine with each club. Make a mental note of how far the ball carries in the air and how far it rolls out. Then, once you know where you want to land your chip shot it’s easy to select what club best suits that purpose.
One important thing to remember is to keep things consistent. The ball should be located in the same position relative to your center for each of the different clubs, and your hands should be in the same spot (slightly ahead of the ball). If you move the ball back in your stance or push your hands forward, you will de-loft the club and force a lower trajectory. Some players do this to create more roll, instead of changing clubs. However, it’s much more difficult to replicate different ball positions and hand angles than it is to simply trust the loft of the club to do the work.