During this instructables presentation I will be teaching the fundamentals of hitting a basic chip shot over the years of experience playing golf I have learned. Chip shots are short shots used when the ball is near but not quite on the green or putting surface. Since golf scores are measured in the amount of times you hit the ball, called strokes, chip shots are just as important if not more important than long drives. This is because goal of a good chip shot is to place the ball as close to the hole as possible. If you have the ability to hit your chip shots close to the hole this mean you will have to make shorter putts which will help a lot in keeping your score down. They are an excellent way for those learning golf to begin to learn the basics of a golf swing since chip shots are typically not full swings. In case you are just learning about golf or have never played before I have linked a video below explaining how to hold a golf club. There is also a video explaining the differences between clubs in Step 2: Select a Club.
It is important to keep in mind that there are many different ways to hit a chip shot well as grip and swing a club, depending on the situation and individual golfer. I am not a professional and will only be sharing information I've learned from coaches, professional golfers, and personal experience. In order to find out which way you swing or grip the club works best for you you will need to play a lot of golf and experiment through trial and error. This guide will focus mainly on hitting very short chip shots from within a few yards of the putting surface.
Putting green (if available)
Golf glove (optional)
Large open space (see considerations to take)
- Considerations: Finding an appropriate open space may be difficult due to the risk of injury to people potentially in the area from the ball or club. It may also be difficult to find an appropriate space because hitting the ground with the club will cause damage to the grass on the property. If you don't have a large and wide open backyard free of surrounding buildings and foot traffic then I would recommend going to a local driving range for practice. You'll have to pay to hit balls at a driving range but at least you'll have a good, safe place to practice and you won't have to shag all the balls afterwards.
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Step 1: Approach the Shot
The first thing you should do before selecting a club should be to approach the shot. If you have golfed before, the steps are pretty much the same as approaching a putt. You should stand behind the ball relative to the hole and look at the terrain of the green. Note important things such as:
- the length of the grass
- position of the cup
- the different slopes the green may have
The picture above shows someone putting but the same idea can be applied to chipping as well. If the person in the photo tries to hit the ball right at the hole then he will hit the ball too far he is uphill from the hole, and the ball will roll will roll hard to the left because of the green's slope. When hitting your chip shot you shouldn't hit it right at the hole you should try to hit it at a place where the ball will stop rolling closest to the hole. Here is an example below of a famous chip shot:
This video clip starts just before he hits his shot but the full video shows him approaching his shot and thinking for a few moments about how exactly he needed to hit the ball to get it closest to the hole based off his position and the slope of the green.
Step 2: Select a Club
Based off the assessment of the green and how the ball will roll you should select a club depending on the type of shot you will need to hit. There is a video which teaches about the different types of clubs in the introduction. For chip shots you will most always be using a 7 iron or higher. A seven iron will give you a low shot that rolls longer than for example a pitching wedge or sand wedge whose shots would go higher and roll shorter. Higher shots are typically more difficult to be accurate with on a consistent basis so a golfer's personal skill level may also be considered before taking a shot. Below is a video explaining the differences between the types of clubs in case you are unfamiliar with what they are and how they are used.
After the golfer has thought about the shot thoroughly and envisioned the exact path they believe will guide the ball to the hole they should select a club and begin to set up their stance at the ball.
Step 3: Set Up Stance
Walk up to the ball with the club you have chosen. The position of the ball can vary depending on how high or low you want the ball to go but it is more important for those who are just learning golf to get be able to get comfortable with basic shots and the motion of their swing. Your feet should close together and your front foot should be opened up slightly. Open meaning that if you stand on the left side of the ball to swing, your left foot, which would be your front foot, should be aimed slightly to the left. If you stand on the opposite side of the ball, with your right foot facing forward you are a lefty. To open a lefty stance is the same except the front foot would move right.
- Most of your weight should be on your front foot and you should be standing a little closer to the ball than when hitting a normal shot.
- You should be standing straight and tall with your knees slightly bent.
- Arms should not hang down straight in front of you like a normal swing either.
- Hands should be in front of the ball with front shoulder raised slightly higher.
The image above is a good representation of how you should be positioned.
Step 4: Begin Swing
After thoroughly considering all of the things that may influence your shot, selected a club, and set yourself up in front of the ball the last thing to do is try to put it in the hole. The first motion of the swing when you take the club back is called your backswing. To begin your backswing bring the club straight back. While using the photo on the left for reference notice that the club brought straight back across his body and that if the club were to laid down on the grass in the position it is in the photo it would be pointing in a straight line at where he is trying to aim. From the photo on the right it is important to notice that the front facing arm is kept as straight as possible.
- For this exercise your backswing should not be far, 1 to 3 feet at the most or about waist high.
- Front arm should be straight and close to body.
- Head should be kept entirely still.
Step 5: Swing Club Forward and Hit Ball
Once you've taken the club back and reached the peak of your backswing you can begin to swing the club towards the ball in a slightly downward direction in a smooth and continuous motion. Hitting the ball cleanly is something that takes used to getting the feeling for. Try to hit the ball just as the club makes contact with the ground for a clean shot. Hitting the ground before the ball or the ball before the ground will often cause the club face to miss making contact with the ball resulting in the ball bouncing off the club in an unintended fashion or direction. The image above is an excellent representation of the phases of a short chip shot. Notice how the important things to note from other images such as:
- feet close together
- slightly bent knees
- hands in front of ball
- weight on front foot
- front shoulder raised
- arms straight
Another important thing to note which this picture does a good job of showing is the importance of keeping the head still. Notice how throughout the entire motion of the swing the head is still, even after contact with the ball.
Step 6: Follow Through and Complete Swing
After making contact with the ball the final thing to complete your swing is to follow through. Think of the follow through as the opposite of the backswing. The follow through should be a smooth continuation of the motion from swinging after hitting the ball. Your follow through should finish at roughly the same height as your backswing. If you were to lay the club flat on the front at the peak of your follow through it should be parallel if to your club if you laid it flat on the ground at the peak of your backswing. Only once you've finished your follow through it is alright to lift your head and check to see where the ball has gone.
Step 7: Practice and Perfect Swing
The only way to get good at any golf shot is to spend hours practicing it. Through spending lots of time practicing you can get to a point where you know exactly what you need to do to fix your swing. Early on will be challenging because you won't know exactly what you're doing but overtime you can build up a feel for your swing. Although it does take lots of time to develop the muscle memory required to hit perfect shots on a consistent basis when you do it a good shot how you intended it is very satisfying. The few shots you hit well is what will drive you to keep trying to replicate the same shot or swing since you've proven at least once you're capable of doing well. It is a grind but it pays off to those who work hard at it.