Chip or pitch?
There are some crucial differences between a chip and a pitch. The key to understanding this difference is to focus on your wrists.
If you’re unable to generate the clubhead speed required to get the ball to the hole without breaking your wrists, you’re playing a pitch.
Alternatively, if the height required for the shot needs you to break your wrists then, again, you’re playing a pitch.
In this video, I’m talking about a basic chip shot, which requires you to keep your wrists firm through the shot.
If you do this, you’ll be keeping the stroke as simple as possible, and taking disastrous strikes out of the equation. Get it right and you’ll bump the ball on to the green and make it roll out like a putt.
Move your hands down the shaft by two inches at address for a little more control, but don’t let your hands strangle the grip – this will only cause tension to kill the fluidity of the stroke.
Keep a five out of ten grip pressure. Place about 70 per cent of your weight on the left side. Next, move your left foot back by one ball’s diameter.
You’ll feel like you’re opening your stance but, essentially, what this is doing is allowing you to swing the club and rotate your body through impact.
Finally, think of this as more of a putting stroke than a ‘shot’. It will help you keep any wrist break out of the action. It’s what Ray Floyd called ‘putting with loft’
I like my pupils to have just one chipping stroke. The length of the stroke should never send the clubhead much further than knee height on the way back but, crucially, the distance the ball travels and the amount of time it spends in the air is ultimately determined by the number on the bottom of the club.
One of the biggest mistakes I see amateurs make is that they always reach for a wedge whenever they chip.
In practice, take your lob wedge, pitching wedge, 8-iron and 6-iron. Hit three shots with each to no target in particular, using the technique already explained and making sure the ball lands on the nearest flat spot.
Keep the stroke the same and make a mental note of the way in which the ball flies with each club and how far it rolls.
This means that when you miss a green you’ll have a better idea of which club will offer the best combination of flight and roll. The technique itself should add consistency to your short game.
Find the nearest flat spot
The reason this chipping technique works is because it allows you to take control of the situation you’re in.
That’s why it’s important to pick the nearest spot on the green to you that’s flat, to land the ball on.
If the ball pitches on a slope it will take a bounce that you’ll not be able to predict. So once you’ve assessed the lie, find a flat landing spot and then select the club that will help you create the correct flight and roll.
A really effective drill that will force you to think about your landing zone is to use four tees to create a box, as I’ve done here.
Use all of your chipping clubs and try to pitch the ball in this box. Of course, the ball will roll out differently depending on which club you’re using.
Spend 20 minutes chipping balls into a box with different clubs and you’ll not only cultivate a better feel for where the ball will land, but also develop an improved understanding for how much
roll each club will offer.