Visual Cues to Better Chipping – Updated

I the interest of full disclosure, Phil Mickelson offers a chipping lesson which definitely contradicts what I wrote a short time ago on how to chip. Of course, Phil has one of the world’s best short games, so I thought out it was important share his thoughts on chipping.

Here is what Mickelson has to say:

I understand what Mickelson says and I incorporate much of his teachings, however, I still stand by my views on how to chip. My technique was honed over years of work and fits will for my game. If you listen to what Mickelson says and what I wrote, many of the points are the same. But, the middle portion is definitely a no-go for Mickelson.

Using Mickelson’s technique would change your visual cues, but the principle and process of using them is exactly the same.

The article below is a cut a paste from my June 8 article. I put it in this article for your convenience. Regardless of the technique you use, make it fit your game!

Do you follow all of Phil Mickelson’s teachings of how to improve your short game? Or are you like me and use what works?

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

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Chipping is a difficult skill if you do not have a solid foundation. Though techniques vary from player to player, there are some fundamental similarities that all players should use. Over the years, I have worked tirelessly on my short game and it was not until two days ago that I realized I subconsciously had a visual cue that is critical to my chipping success. I experimented with it and drew the conclusion that club positioning is the key to better chipping.

After examining my natural setup for some time, it became apparent that I subconsciously use built-in guide-markers. Let me explain:

When chipping, I have 3 different setup positions depending on how high and far I want to chip my ball. The three positions are used for short-sided chips (10 Yards), medium chips (20 yards), and long chips (40 yards) around the green. I use the same swing and roughly the same strength for each shot. Consistency is very important to a successful short game.

These distances are rated for my sand wedge, but you can experiment to determine your distances with your various wedges.

Fig 1. High short chips. The shaft of my club follows up my left (lead) leg.

Fig 1. is used for short-sided chips or shots over a hazard at a distance of about 10 yards. As you can see, my ball lines up with my front foot. My weight is distributed 60/40 (with the 60 being on my lead foot). The shaft of my club follows up my leg and the butt of my club points into my midsection. This position produces the highest ball flight (usually over my head) of the 3 positions.

When swinging my club, I use very little lower body. I do use my wrists slightly, but I try to swing the club with just my shoulders. When chipping, it is very important that I keep my head still and focused on where the club makes contact with the ball. I actually count to “1” after contact before lifting my head to watch the results of my swing.

Fig 2. Medium chips. The shaft of my club splits my legs.

Fig 2. is used for shots of around 20 yards. It can be used over short, high chips. For this shot, the shaft of my club splits my legs. My weight distribution is the same for every shot; my wrists try to be more involved, but I focus on keeping them still. Additionally, my head must remain still with my eyes focused on the contact point (again I count to “1” before watching my ball’s flight).

I use this position for longer shots, but I usually club down to my gap wedge (52º) or pitching wedge (48º). A point of note, the higher the loft the harder you need to swing for the same results. Again, I recommend you experiment with each wedge because every player has a unique flair to their swing they need to figure out on their own.

For this shot, the ball flight is somewhere between my waist and shoulders. I expect the ball to roll out at least 5 to 8 yards after it lands and check slightly. I like this shot if the green is elevated no higher than my waist height. I make sure the ball lands on the green because if it hits short it will not release as much as expected.

Another important aspect of this shot, and I suppose the others, is that I take very little divot. I try to skim the grass and let the face of the wedges do their job. My best contact occurs when the leading edge of the club meets the bottom of the ball and ground at the same time. I can hear the crisp contact when I hit the shot perfectly. I really like that sound.

Fig 3. Low running chips. The shaft of my club follows up my right (trail) leg.

Fig 3. is designed for low running shots that require a bit of check on landing. The ball is lined up on my right (trail) foot and the shaft runs up my legs. I do not hit the ball very far in the air and the ball flight stays below my waist. I use this shot often if the there is a clear path to the hole.

It is very important on this shot to hit the ball first and have your hands lead the shot through contact. As you can see from the picture, at set-up my hands are already ahead of the ball. I need to maintain this for a consistent shot.

I like this visual cue the most because it sets up well with the way I like to chip. I still have my weight distributed evenly and I keep my wrists locked through contact. There are similarities among the set-up for all these chips, yet you should practice your own style to ensure you get the most out of your game.

Chipping is a difficult skill to master. Recently, I discovered the above visual cues that provide a solid foundation moving forward. By using the cues, I can develop a more consistent chipping stroke. I am surprised I did not notice this easy, repeatable cue earlier. Maybe I had, but never really thought about it. Regardless, I know it now and I am excited to implement it during my next training session.

Do you use similar visual cues? If so, please share!

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

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4 thoughts on “Visual Cues to Better Chipping – Updated

  1. Jim, I am not convinced you cannot play a ball between your feet, as Phil says, so I am closer to your technique. I’ll play low and high shots with my SW and LW off my right and left feet, but when using a PW or 8-iron for longer chips, will play it middle to 3/4 back. I cannot play those shots off my right toe because it de-lofts the club too much and buries the leading edge in the turf.

    There are so many contradictory tips out there. I would ignore them all if you’ve got a trusted technique that works, and it sounds like you do.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Brian

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    • Brian

      I agree. I said that to Kevin as well that I am becoming a bit confused because I cannot go to the range to practice. I am sticking to what works for me because in golf, as we all know, there is one answer!

      Cheers
      Jim

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  2. Well, here’s the thing. As I read through your previous post again, and check to see what I wrote in the comments of that article, I would have to say that I use Phil’s method. In the past article I mentioned that I never chip off the front of my stance. And that holds true. If I want to change trajectory on a chip, I simply choose a different wedge/iron.

    I can’t say that I ever chip outside of maybe 20 yards. I pitch from that distance. And when I pitch, I may use the front or back of my stance. Now maybe I don’t chip outside of 20 yards is because of where I live and the fact that all greens are raised here. And maybe it’s a sematics thing. But, I basically define the difference between a chip and a pitch by whether I allow my wrists to cock. If no, it’s a chip, and if yes, it’s a pitch or a lob.

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    • Kevin

      This is becoming a confusing topic for me because I cannot practice or swing a club. I stick by what I said earlier, but Phil is the best. His point about hitting the ball first with is key to great chipping.

      Pitching vs chipping, Given our greens, I do not chip outside of 2 or 30 yards either. In the big scheme of things, it is just semantics.

      Cheers
      Jim

      Like

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