Basics Of Chipping
By John Green
Chipping used to be referred to as shots that are close to the green, like the fringe. But the longer I’m around this game the longer a chip has become. Take the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship that is held the Sunday before the Masters at Augusta. If that is a chipping contest those juniors are competing in, what would a pitch be if they had to hit a pitch, 120 yards?
Even if chipping remained a shot that is close to the green, some courses like to have longer grass (read rough) near the green. And that shot then becomes a pitch. For purposes of this month’s column, we’ll define chipping old school style: next to the green in fairway length grass. For this month’s column, I won’t discuss grip, setup, etc. but rather the strategy behind having a good chipping game.
Here’s a good example of the thinking a lot of golfers have with chipping: use a high lofted club, hit it to the hole and hope it stops near the hole because of all the backspin they think they will create. So what really happens: the ball doesn’t stop and it keeps rolling past the hole.
So let’s forget about the backspin and focus on the rolling. An ideal and more consistent way to chip is to hit it on the front of the green and let it roll to the hole. High lofted clubs like your wedges will create some side spin; when the ball hits the green, it can kick to the right or left. Clubs with less loft don’t create side spin, so when the ball hits the green, it will then roll straight. (And straight is always a good thing!)
The key to being a successful chipper is to use the same swing and change the club according to how much roll is needed. The best way to practice this is to go to a practice green and hit a few balls with each iron to see how far the ball rolls with each club. Initially, it will seem very mechanical. But after practicing for awhile, you’ll approach the green on the course, see where the pin is and your ball location and you will know exactly what club to chip with.
For help with your chipping, see your favorite PGA or LPGA Professional.