How to Use a Golf Chipper

By Bill Herrfeldt

Most golfers try to dazzle their playing partners by hitting the ball a long way off the tee; but when they get around the greens, they lose a lot of shots because they haven't focused on that aspect of their games. Chipping the ball was never so important than when Mike Weir won the 2003 Master after hitting only 38 of the 72 greens in regulation. But he was about to get up and down from off the greens to take home the trophy and the sizable check. Know the fundamentals, lower your score and enjoy the game more by improving your chipping.

Place about three-fourths of your weight on the side closest to your target and move the ball back in your stance. Then hit the ball with a descending blow without breaking your wrists, both as you take the club back and after you hit the ball. This method will keep you from hitting the ball thin or getting it more airborne which is cause by you hitting the ball on the upswing. Under no circumstances should you help the golf ball get off the ground by scooping it and your wrist should be ahead of the ball at all times.

Grip the club loosely. Golfers tend to hold the golf club too tightly, regardless of whether they are about to hit a long or a short shot. This is especially true when he is close to the green because the less certain he is about the outcome of the shot, the tighter he holds on to the club. Sam Snead once said that you should hold the club as you would a tiny bird...loose enough to keep it from flying away, but firm enough so as not to kill it.

Make sure you don't decelerate as you hit your chip shots. Most golfers fear that they will hit the ball past the flagstick, so they inadvertently do not complete the shot. They don't realize that it is how far they take the club back that determines the distance of the shot.

Keep your chipshots low. Typically, chipshots are meant to run on the ground which will make them easier to control.

Devote part of your practice time to chips. Here is a drill that can help you gain confidence in your chipping. Address the ball as previously discussed, take a shorter than normal backswing, then hit through the ball. Try to gauge the distance of your shot and hit it that distance without taking your club back further. Before long, you will develop a sense for distance, and you will gain confidence in your chip shots.

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