Chipping for Success in Golf

Chipping for success in golf is a given. All golfers, whether they think so or not, are trying to sink every shot. I know that sometimes we say things like “If I get this close….”, but to be realistic, we are always trying to make every chip. However, percentages tell us that we are not always successful, yet it does not change our intent. Recently, two instances happened when I was playing where chipping was at the forefront of someone’s success on the links.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing in Men’s night at our local course. We were playing a 4 man scramble and we had to use at least one drive for each play during the 9 holes. Our group started on the 14th hole and as we walked out to our position, the discussion turned to our target score. Having played in many Men’s night scrambles, we all agreed that 28 would be the score to beat.

Approach shot on the 14th hole at Osprey Links Golf Course.

Birdieing the first hole was a great start. We were all playing well and more importantly, putting for birdie on every hole, but one. We hit the green in regulation on every shot except the easy par 4, 12th hole. On Β our third shot, we were on the back of the green, chipping down hill to a pin that was only 12 paces away. As chips go, this was very difficult.

Playing last all day (my usual position), I had the opportunity to watch the ball react from 3 different strokes. The first player used a PW, the ball came out hot and finished about 15 feet away from the pin. The second, used a sand wedge and stopped the ball about a foot away, but to the right. His line was off because he did not give enough break. The third player used a putter and came up short, but on a good line. Now it was my turn.

After watching all three players hit, I now knew the line, speed, and landing area for my shot. My partners helped me decide how to play the shot and more importantly, gave me confidence to execute a good chip. I picked my 60ΒΊ Titleist Vokey wedge because I needed the ball to land soft and roll out about 5 paces. Placing the ball near my front foot to ensure I lofted the ball, I made the perfect stroke. My ball rose about 4 feet in the air, landed softly and rolled into the cup. If you are wondering, I did pull the pin; as the saying goes ‘pull the pin, it is going in!’

In the case of the Men’s night stroke, chipping for success became easier as I watch my playing partners hit their balls. The removed all the troublesome factors of speed, landing area, and club selection. I still had to execute the shot properly, but golf becomes easier when we can narrow the influences of each chip.

My second incident happened this week. I was golfing with Rick, one of my usual playing partners. Rick is an avid golfer and continues to improve his game every time we play. As we navigated the round, we started to discuss chipping. Rick always uses his sand wedge. Regardless of the shot, that is his go to club. He has great success from 25 or 30 yards out, but as he plays closer to the green, his sand wedge is more difficult to control.

I had mentioned using an 8-iron for many of his chip shots around the green because it would increase his chances of success. He understood what I was talking about, but did not understand how to execute a chip using an 8-iron. He used this club throughout the round and was heavy on most of his shots. So, on the 15th green, we took a few minutes and I explained how to chip execute this chip shot. He set up 15 paces from the pin with an uphill shot, I set up his grip and stance and explained that he did not have to hit the ball hard to have it travel the 15 paces.

Well, magic happened. His first two chips hit the pin! After a 2 minute talk, he now understood the concept of chipping for success. By using his 8-iron, he will have more opportunity to putt from a closer distance and reduce many of the factors related to making a successful chip. As we finished the round, I explained to Rick Β (and showed when the opportunity arose) when to use his 8-iron and when to use different clubs. Rick was very happy with the result of our chipping talk and I can see him using it in the future.

Chipping for success is important to great golf scores. Sometimes the success is chipping in and other times setting yourself up for a decent putt. Regardless, successful chipping can make or break your score; it is all a matter of reducing or eliminating the shot factors around the green.

How is your chipping lately?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

12 thoughts on “Chipping for Success in Golf

  1. Jim, when you are chipping from in front of the green to a front pin on a steep slope do you try and make it, knowing that if you’re too aggressive you might run it 3-5 feet by and have a fast downhill touch putt coming back, or do you play for short of the hole?

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian

      At our level there are many possibilities. In a tournament if I am leading, protecting from a high score is my top priority. If I am behind and it is early in the round – protect the score. If behind and late in the round – be aggressive. If playing a regular round – be aggressive. Your scenario is unique and the answer has to vary. How do you play it?

      Cheers
      Jim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim, I’m more inclined to charge it the flatter the surface. On a steep uphill play, I will try and die it in the cup like a long lag putt. Can’t say that I’m always thinking to make it, but more about the leave if I don’t.

        Thanks!

        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jim
    I have recently fallen into the trap of practicing lots of putting and also range work but neglecting chipping and consequently my touch is not as sharp. I am over hitting chips at present. Your post is a great prompt for me to get my practice schedule sorted out! Plus I have 3 brand spanking new Vokey SM6 to try out!
    Quick tip my coach told me about chipping that made the world of difference to me:
    We like to think we know how far each of our clubs goes when hitting them, but how many of us know what each club does when we are chipping? As you say Jim not many people understand about using 8 irons for chipping.
    My coach encouraged me to do a drill over and over until I knew which club to use form which distance while chipping (terrain dependent of course). I hit 15 balls with the same club from 10, 15 and 20 yards form the pin, so off the green but around it (about 6 yards off and 4 yards of green – you can try different measurements). I used my putter, a 52 deg and a 60 deg but you can practice this with any club, including 8 iron!
    Once 15 had been hit form 10 yards I measured the 8th closest ball to the hole (the median average) then tried with a different club and measured that, then another club etc. I did this time and time again until it became clear which club was most effective from which distance.
    Funnily enough, statistically my putter was best from 10 yards and in, having spent years insisting on using a wedge!
    We are all different and our techniques, physical abilities, brands and newness of clubs are different too so it is wrong to say everyone should use a putter form 10 yards and in, but if you try this drill over and over you will work out which one works best for you form which distance (up or downhill etc) and then,,, ,,, as you rightly say, we should try and sink it every time!
    Hope this drill is of interest.
    Thanks for a great post as usual.
    Cheers
    Paul – Team Blind Apple

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul

      Thanks for the drill. I will take a closer look at it when I go practice next time. My quick view is that your coach is correct about really understanding what each club does and the distance it travels when chipping. It is a matter of practice.

      Cheers
      Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, today I got out at 3 pm and played 22 holes. Took me 2 1/2 hours in between rain storms. My chipping was a little hit or miss. Mostly it was good though. My one bad hole, #2, was due to a bad 1st chip, followed by a bad second chip and ending with the only double for the day. But I had no warm up, was playing through a foursome and I know I just came out of my game. First I chunked it on the wet ground, then shot it out too low and hard. Third one was fine at least. I calmed down after that. Later I even managed to chip one in for bird to help make up for it. Ended with a respectable 77. For me not bad considering the wet ground and strong breezes today.

    I came away ecstatic actually. I hit my 3 wood off the deck 3 times and off the tee 3 times. All were perfect strikes. Thats a first since my lesson. I was beginning to think it would never come back.

    But this is supposed to be about chipping today. All in all, my chipping is getting better again. Better than before my one lesson changed everything. I used to think I was fairly decent at it but the reality was I was limited in the shots I could do well. Now that I grip the club right, I’ve found those shot types that I was troubled by like flop shots for instance are much, much easier. The one tough part now is distance. I’m having to learn that over again and tend to make mistakes in club or swing speed selection. I carry a 45, 48, 56, & 60 degree wedges. A bit short or long isn’t terrible for an amatuer, but I’ll be happier when I will just naturally know which is best for what I want. Thats makes it easier to keep the faith. And that makes everything easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      First, congrats on you 3 wood successes! Great golf news needs to be shared. As far a chipping goes, it is a process that takes time and effort to hone. Your wedges sound about right and now that your grip is fixed, things look bright for your game.

      Cheers
      Jim

      Liked by 1 person

    • Looks like you had great fun Kevin, even in the difficult weather conditions, nice one.

      In my mind, and it’s just my opinion, it is equally, if not more important to know how far each of your wedges go with various chipping swing lengths than it is to know how far you hit your 7 iron or 3 wood or other clubs. Your other clubs don’t create great rounds, they just enable them, but your chipping wedges (and putter of course) do make the difference between a good and a great round.

      It’s all down to regular and consistent practice as everything is with golf, however if you can work out how far you hit your 60 deg and your 56 and so on with a 1 foot chipping takeaway, then a 2 foot take away, up to a 1/4 swing (you can decide on increments but they need to be consistent) then you will have every possible shot in your bag. You need to do this without a target in mind Ike a flag, you are just measuring average distances, ignoring the really bad strikes etc.

      Let’s say you have a 20 foot chip and the conditions dictate it’s a flop shot, then you have already computed that , for example, a full quarter swing with your 60 deg will give you a 20 foot distance, likewise if it’s more of a running shot but still requires a wedge, you have already worked out in practice that your 45 deg with just a 2 foot takeaway will give you 20 feet and so on. (Also works for any club you chip with, like Jim’s 7 iron)

      I know some will say that chipping is about ‘feel’ and I agree to an extent, however if you have your distances dialed in first creating an initial level of feel, PLUS your indescribable, not really quantifiable ‘feel’ for the shot in hand, you stand a better chance of playing it well.

      Swing easy!
      Cheers
      Paul – Team Blind Apple

      Like

      • Paul,

        I think we are all having a raging agreement. I agree that knowing how far to hit our short game clubs is very important and that comes from practice. It is interesting how we all identified the importance of chipping, but have different approaches to reach our goals. Gotta love golf!

        Cheers
        Jim

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the comment. I agree wholeheartedly and have been working that part of the game recently a bit harder now that I am comfortable with all the other changes I had to make after that 1st lesson. I want a full yardage book in my head for just about any possibility and I’m not there yet. The ability to choose your trajectory and control your distance is a big part of Florida golf with our constant breezes and elevated greens. And when you get to your ball, the entire process is much easier if you know your choices and options and are confident in them. It makes it so much easier to have faith in the shot you are about to make. Then I can let feel take me home.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s