Sports & Wellness

How to Chip a Golf Ball: a step-by-step guide

20 Dec 2022

Your game always has room for improvement. Get back to basics and improve your chipping.

Chipping is a vital skill that can dramatically enhance your game. Heres how to chip a golf ball in a few easy steps.

Golf has taken off over the last few years, with millions of new players joining the sport in 2020. If you count yourself among that number, you need to start by developing basic skills.

While much of a golfer's success comes from an understanding of the game and physical training, skill development will separate okay players from great ones. If you don't look for the many small ways you can improve your game without getting stronger or more observant, you'll plateau. (That's not to say you should neglect physical training, theory, or athletic nutrition, though.)

You'll need to start by learning how to chip a golf ball. Don't worry if you're so new that you don't know what chipping is. We'll get you from zero to pro, or at least gifted amateur, in this step-by-step guide.

Why Do I Need to Know How to Chip a Golf Ball?

While longer drives satisfy the primal urge to make a large number even bigger, golfers usually spend more time on the short game than the long game. Almost two-thirds of shots take place within 100 yards of the hole, meaning most golfers spend more time there than anywhere else.

Golfers with high handicaps benefit even more than other golfers from serious work in their short game. Not everyone has the strength, form, and physique necessary to pull off lengthy drives, even after considerable exercise. A solid chip, meanwhile, improves play at any age.

Learning to chip a golf ball also has a smaller time footprint than many other golf skills. Building enough strength to improve your drive or making major corrections to your form takes time. Chipping doesn't.

Imagine you're on a business trip and have three hours to yourself each day. If you spend half of that on golf, you won't improve much if you try to make your drive longer, even with a really good exercise routine. If you work on your chips and putts for the same amount of time, though, you can make a lot more progress.

1. Choose a Chipping Grip

Remember: you don't want distance, you want fine control. Choke down on the grip when you start lining up for a chip.

How much you want to choke down depends on the distance you're aiming for. For a full 100-yard chip, you might not choke down much. A short one could see you get very close to the steel.

The only way you can build a sense of how much to choke down in a given situation is to spend more time practising.

2. Get Into Chipping Stance

When you perform a golf ball chip, you need to narrow your stance. Your stroke will be fairly short, so a wide stance will work against you here.

You also need to use a more open stance than you would for driving. Your lead foot should be a little further back from the target line, allowing you to rotate your body on the downswing. This forms the basis of a much better, more precise chip.

All of these changes to your stance allow you to swing down on the ball. This gives you better backspin and ensures solid contact.

3. Choosing a Position

The ball should also be a little further back in your stance than you're used to for a drive when you set up for a chip. Like the changes in your posture, this encourages you to swing down on the ball.

Early in your practice, you might overcompensate and start taking a divot. That suggests you've chosen a position too far back and need to adjust again.

During the ideal chip shot, the head of the club will skim the grass after hitting the ball. 

Golf chipping

4. Position to Avoid Flipping

As any golf coach can tell you, if your hands flip near impact, you can completely lose what would otherwise be a good chip. You can mitigate or avoid this by keeping your leading wrist bowed a tiny bit on impact.

5. Don't Go Stock-Still

When golfers putt, they remain still. Beginners sometimes see this as the way all short-game shots work, remaining stable and inactive during a chip. If you chip this way, though, your chips will often come out sloppy.

Your chest should turn during the shot, facing where you're aiming by the end. Your rear knee, similarly, should pivot inward toward your forward knee just a bit.

Allowing your body to move in a more natural way gives you better control over your shot. If you have to fight your body's natural movements, you'll often lose.

Practise, Practise, Practise

Chipping drills can help you get a better sense of how each club will chip and how your stance will affect your chips. Start by putting a marker of some kind, such as a shirt or a towel, on the green. Try hitting with an eye toward landing on that marker rather than getting as close to the hole as possible.

Over the course of several attempts, you'll learn a lot about what a successful chip looks like. Vary your chosen clubs and how hard you hit to get a better sense of the shot. Take note of how much your ball rolls, too.

Practising by yourself can lead to reinforcing your bad habits, though. Consider enlisting the help of a golf coach.

Chip Away at Your Shortcomings

Learning how to chip a golf ball can take your game to the next level much faster than almost any other skill. Don't neglect driving and putting, but the next time you're thinking about what you want to pursue in improving your golf game, take a serious look at this key facet of your short game.

Do you already have stellar skills? Want to become a golf coach? Contact us about opportunities.

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