Chipping is basically putting with loft and the ball still rolls a fair amount. It is a shot that is hit with very limited lower body rotation and the shoulders and arms work similar to the putting stroke. The wrists also work similar to the putting stroke in that there is a limited release until after the ball is struck.
Next time you are standing by the putting green, try the following drill.
Stand in a golf stance side on to the green with a ball in your right hand (left hand if you are left handed). Gently throw the ball underarm towards a target about twenty feet away. It is very unlikely that you turned your body away from the target as you made your “backswing”, but probable that you turned your body towards the target as you made the downswing or release. This is the foundation of a good chipping motion. For a right handed player, the right elbow goes backward to initiate the swing and the body rotates slightly towards the target to complete the swing.
Similar to putting, I feel that there is no definite grip for chipping. Tiger Woods often uses a ten finger grip to hit chip shots. If you watch golf on television, a few years ago you will have seen a PGA Tour player (Chris Couch, a right handed player) chipping shots with his left hand below his right on the grip. Although this has become a favored putting grip over the past few years, very few players have gone to “left hand low” chipping. If you are having trouble hitting chip shots and are nervous every time you approach a ball twenty feet or less off the green, you may want to give it a try.
Finally, it is important that you develop a routine prior to hitting chip shots similar to putts. That way the chip becomes just the final move in a sequence of events and not the focus of the event.
If you need more help with your chipping contact me or your local PGA professional.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.