If you want to learn how to chip in golf the first thing to remember is how important clean and consistent contact is. The ball needs to be struck on the way down, without hitting the ground prior to impact. You want to pinch the ball against the ground and let the loft of the club get the ball up in the air. If you can repeat this point of contact over and over again, you will quickly learn distance control with your chips. Once you can accurately gauge your distances you will be putting from closer to the hole, ensuring that you make more of putts and shaving shots off of your total score.
So, how do you make sure you hit the ball cleanly on your chip shots? It all starts with your setup. Here are the four key points I want you to work on so you know you are setup properly when chipping around the green.
1. Ball Alignment
When swinging a club, the lowest point the club will travel normally falls right in the middle of your center of gravity. Since you want to make sure you hit the ball on the way down and before you hit the turf, this means you should move the ball slightly behind this center at address (this means more towards your back foot than your front). I recommend two inches behind your center or if you stand with your feet only a few inches apart, play the ball off the front of your back foot. You want to keep this ball location consistent because moving the ball further back or forward in your stance changes your club angle at impact. A consistent club angle at impact will get all of your chips started out at the same height, making it easier to control your distance.
2. Hand Position
Your hands need to be in the same place at address for every chip shot you make. You want your hands pressed forward so they are in front of the ball. If you could draw a line straight down from the point where your right knuckle sticks out the farthest, that line should land end just in front of the ball between your feet. Keeping your hands in front of the ball helps you will hit down on your chip and prevents the urge to “scoop” the chip (trying to lift the ball in the air). By keeping the position of your hands the same every time you are ensuring the club angle at impact remains consistent.
3. Weight Balance
In keeping with the theme of hitting the ball first you need to make sure more of your weight is on the front foot than the back, around 60% or 1.5 times as much. This will help you come down on the ball and it makes the low point of your swing a little more towards the front foot, again ensuring you make clean contact.
4. Club Alignment
When you play the ball back in your stance the club face tends to like to float open a little bit. Make an extra effort to ensure that you keep the club face square to your target. A square club face will prevent you from putting any side spin on the ball, plus it maintains the same loft for all of your shots.
The best way to practice your setup is indoors so you can concentrate on form without worrying about results. Once you have these four tips for a proper chip shot down, it’s time to work on the swing technique and then learn how to properly control your distance.