Three Keys to a Better Chip Shot

By Rick SmithJanuary 21, 2002, 5:00 pm
Rick Smith

As a golfer, there is nothing more frustrating than to hit a long drive down the center of the fairway, strike a solid iron shot just off the edge of the green and then after analyzing the lie, slope of the green and the distance to the flag, you blade the chip over the green or lay sod over the ball. Now, you are not only frustrated, but you have to hit the chip all over again! If youre looking to save more than a few shots a round, let's get to the facts you need to know for proficient chipping around the greens.
There are many methods on how to chip a golf ball. One of the biggest problems that I notice when teaching amateurs is their conceptual misunderstanding on how to execute a chip shot, which in turn leads to improper chipping technique. In a majority of my students I see many of the same chipping faults, which include:
  • Improper setup / body position
  • Incorrect use of wrists
  • Poor angle of approach to ball

Improper Setup / Body Position
I am a firm believer that chipping the ball well stems from the proper setup. Conceptually, many amateurs have the idea that they need to help the ball into the air when executing a chip. Thus, they set up with the ball forward in their stance, their spine angle is backwards (leaning back behind the ball) and a majority of their weight is on the back foot. This type of setup is detrimental to producing a good chip because it does not allow a descending blow on the golf ball, which is a must.
Good chippers have many common attributes. Because the chipping motion is such a small swing, there is not enough time for the weight to transfer to the forward foot; thus, it is important to pre-set the impact position at address. Good chippers set up with the ball positioned back of center in their stance, the hands and the shaft are angled slightly forward of the golf ball, a majority of the weight is placed on the left foot and the spine angle should be approximately two inches ahead of the ball. This type of setup promotes a descending blow, which is necessary to be a good chipper.
Incorrect Use of Wrists
Another common denominator in poor chippers is very tight or rigid wrists. This problem may be caused by misunderstanding the proper chipping technique. Many have heard the saying, Chip like your hands are in casts. This analogy is a detrimental move towards making a descending blow. Very rigid wrists will usually promote a stiff wristed takeaway on the backswing, which then results in a flippy scooping motion through impact.

Good chippers have a little hinge or play in the wrists in the back swing. Their grip pressure is light and remains that way throughout the chip. As the club approaches the ball on a descending angle, the left arm and the club should form a straight line at and through impact.

Poor Angle of Approach
Once again, it is very important to emphasize that improper technique will lead to inconsistent chipping. As I mentioned earlier, many of my students try to scoop or help the ball in the air when they need to understand that actually hitting down on the ball makes it go up. A scooping technique will cause their body to tilt back through the swing or more simply put, they swing the club from low to high, which in turn creates the result of either blading the chip or hitting it fat. Here, the poor results create a keep the head down and body still concept in the golfers mind, which is absolutely the wrong chipping technique.
Good chippers have a swing that tends to go from high in the back swing to low in the follow-through. They let their eyes and body turn or pivot to the target, which gives them that nice straight-line relationship with the left arm and the club. The end result is a solid feel at impact.

These are a combination of ideas that create an ideal condition for making a consistent chipping motion and solid contact. If you can chip the ball solid every time, you can be much more effective in your distance and trajectory control.
Lastly, I believe it is useful to use many clubs when chipping, and I also encourage students to use their imagination. The best chippers in the world are very creative.
Dont miss Rick Smith on The Golf Channel Academy LIVE during Tune Up Your Game Week ' Saturday, January 26 at 6:30 PM/ET.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.