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Golf Chipping Techniques & Tips for Beginners

Published on 06/19/2023 · 8 min readMaster the art of golf chipping with our beginner-friendly techniques and tips. Improve your short game and score like a pro on the greens!
Al El Kordi-Hubbard, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Al El Kordi-Hubbard

Photo by Brocreative

Chipping is an area of the short game the beginner golfer often finds very frustrating. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably found yourself in the maddening position of hitting a couple of good shots in a row to get near the green hoping to save par or bogey, only to foil your score with a chip bladed over the green or chunked only a couple feet in front of you.

In this article, I’ll explain some basics of the chipping technique that will help you hit better chips around the green and save a ton of strokes to lower your handicap. I’ll review a few areas to ensure you have all the basics of chipping down. Those are ball position, handle position, chipping stance, posture, and grip. Additionally, I’ll talk a little about the importance of choosing the right club loft and how the loft and bounce will impact your chipping. I’ll also touch on how the setup may change for different lies around the golf course (rough versus fairway). I won’t discuss more advanced shots, like the flop shot, as it’s more important to master the basics of chipping first before adding more complex and challenging shots like the flop shot. To keep things simple, I’ll touch on the setup and proper chipping technique from a standard fairway lie and build on different lies.

Before diving too deep, it’s important to understand what makes a consistent, controllable chip shot. For consistent chips, you want a relatively shallow attack angle and take virtually no divot. You also want a forgiving technique that will allow you to make errors that will end up with your ball on the green putting instead of over the green chipping again.

Proper Chipping Setup

Proper chipping setup position as seen from down the line. Photo by Al El Kordi-Hubbard

A great chipping technique starts with a great setup. The setup starts with the right ball position and stance width. For a standard chip, the ball should be middle to forward in your stance, and your stance should be very close together. You should distribute your weight 50/50 between your front foot and back foot. Doing so will allow you to utilize the club's bounce and prevent chunking and blading chips.

​Next, stand much closer to the ball than you would for a full swing. This should feel closer to a putting setup than a full-swing setup. Doing this promotes easier turf interaction and a more consistent motion.

With several boxes checked, the next box to check is the club position in your setup. The shaft angle should be relatively vertical. DO NOT lean the shaft forward. Doing this will cause you to dig with the club's leading edge instead of gliding with the club's bounce. Pro Tip: Turn the clubface open slightly. Doing so exposes the bounce more and will create even more consistent chips.

​Lastly, your grip should be relatively neutral and close to your putting grip. Too strong of a grip could cause excess digging with the leading edge. Too weak of a grip could cause you to skip the leading edge into the ball, blading it across the green.

With your chipping setup now dialed in, you’re 90% of the way to better chipping. The last 10% is getting comfortable with the right chipping motion. Let’s talk about that now.

Chipping Motion

Proper chipping backswing position as seen from the face on. Photo by Al El Kordi-Hubbard

Your chipping motion should be kept simple. To do this, you want to focus on maintaining body rotation and limiting wrist hinge. This is done by rotating the chest back and forth, keeping the arms neutral. A great way to think about body rotation of the chipping motion is to visualize a pole bisecting your body right at the ball position. You are just rotating your chest and body and pivoting around the pole without using your arms to “hit” at the ball. By creating this rotation/pivot, you can hit simple chips with moderate spin and great control. By maintaining neutral wrists without any slowest hinge, you can keep a constant moderate speed throughout the chipping motion and avoid hitting the ball too hard.

To begin creating this rotation, take the club back low and inside by rotating your chest. The clubhead should almost feel like it’s behind you and be neutral to slightly open. Depending on how far of a chip you want to hit, you will adjust the amount of rotation on your backswing.

Proper chipping backswing position as seen from down the line. Photo by Al El Kordi-Hubbard

On your downswing, begin by rotating your chest back to the ball. You must begin your downswing with your chest and not your arms. This will allow you to maintain a consistent swing path for a shallow angle of attack into the golf ball.

As you get into impact, continue rotating your chest toward your target and finish with your hands at about waist height. In your finish position, you should be able to see the grooves of your club, and they should be pointing somewhat toward the sky. (However, if they are pointing to the side of you or the ground, you are using your hands and arms too much through impact.) Doing this on your follow-through will help with consistent ball flight and speed through the ball without having to use your arms to try and “hit” the ball.

And just like that, you’ve got a repeatable, consistent chipping motion! Practice this feeling and develop a comfortable pace, speed, and rotation amount. This will give you a “stock” chip that you know goes a certain distance. To adjust distance after that, you just need to have more or less rotation!

There is something important to note as you work on this. Chips that you blade or chunk result from a mismatch in swing length and speed. Your brain is incredibly good at trying to adjust subconsciously. If you don’t take the club back far enough, your brain will automatically start trying to add transitional speed to the swing, and you’ll be more likely to blade your chip. If your swing is too long, your brain will try to slow the swing down in transition, causing you to chunk your chip. Practice this technique and get a feel for your ideal swing length.

Chipping Out of the Rough

Proper chipping follow-through as seen from the face on. Photo by Al El Kordi-Hubbard

Now that we have our basic chip from the fairway dialed in, the next thing to consider is adjustments for chipping out of the rough since you’ll often be chipping from the rough. Dialing in your basic chipping from the fairway is still incredibly important because a lot of the same fundamentals will apply.

Varying Lies

When chipping out of the rough, your lie is the most important thing to consider. The rough is harder to chip from because of the varying lies you can get. From the fairway, it’s essentially one lie. From the rough, you can get multiple lies. Common lies you’ll see in the rough are:

  • Into the grain (grass growing toward your ball/away from the hole)
  • With the grain (grass growing away from your ball/toward the hole)
  • Neutral (grass growing straight up)
  • Across the grain (grass growing sideways toward the ball)

In addition to considering how the grass is growing, it’s important to consider the length of the grass and where the ball is sitting in relation to the grass. Is the ball sitting up on top, or is it sitting at the very bottom, somewhere in the middle?

Setup

The setup should be relatively unchanged when chipping out of the rough. The only thing you might consider changing would be hovering the head of the club off the ground based on how the ball is sitting. If the ball sits on top of the rough, consider hovering the cub off the ground a little to avoid going under it.

Chipping Motion

When you chip off the fairway, you want to keep the attack angle very shallow to utilize the bounce. However, you don’t get this same luxury out of the rough because there is going to be grass behind your ball interfering with the clubhead. For this reason, you need to get your swing a little more vertical to create a slightly steeper angle of attack into the ball. To do this, you must use your arms more on the takeaway to get the club feeling like it’s a little more in front of us.

The length of the swing should be the same as from your “stock” chip to ensure the right tempo. Once you finish your backswing, use the chest to initiate the downswing and rotate through the same way you did from our basic chip from the fairway. And just like that, you’ve got your chipping technique dialed in!

Find the Right Wedge to Help Your Chipping Technique

As with any new movement in your golf swing or a new skill you’re learning, a little bit of practice will go a long way. Get comfortable with the motion with something like a sand wedge, then once you have that well-grooved, start playing around with lower lofted clubs to see how they fly and spin. You may prefer chipping with your lob wedge or pitching wedge more than your sand wedge.

Keep practicing and keep having fun! And don’t forget, if you have questions about your wedges and need help picking out the right wedge to help improve your chipping, you can reach out to me or one of my fellow Golfing Experts here on Curated. We can help you find the right one to suit your game!

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