Mastering your short game can be as simple or as hard as you make it. Common complexities do exist, sure, but most beginner golfers make too many mountains out of molehills when the best approach to take is to just…
Keep It Simple!
Let’s discuss the simple approach to the chip shot. When it comes to the bare-bones-basics of chipping the ball, your technique should be a simple routine that can be used over and over again with simplicity.
Why? Because by using a straight-forward routine that can be implemented with ease, and for shot after shot, you will make better progress and your overall skill level will increase at a faster pace.
Too many beginner golfers end up spinning their wheels for months, some even years, due to their inability to stick with a basic swing technique for different shots. Make it a personal commitment to “not be that guy” on the course. Learn the game, keep your swings simple, and stick to the basics – especially when it comes to your chip shots.
A Simple Bump And Run Approach
The bump and run is the easiest chip shot to make. You should use a less-lofted club for this shot, something in the range of your 6, 7 or 8 iron. Your stance should be different than your normal iron shot. Standard iron shots require about a shoulder-width foot placement. But chip shots should be made with an open stance and your feet tightly closer together.
Now to hit your bump and run what I advise is to move the ball back further within your stance as opposed to the normal iron shot stance. This little trick helps swing the club with less loft because your stance is open and you are playing the ball back. The ball will be kept low to the ground and the open stance helps keep the leg power out of the swing (you do not want full leg power due to the short distance of this shot).
By using too much leg power you have the tendency to sacrifice accuracy. The short game is all about technique, not power. Professional golfers know this. They have hundreds of different strategies for playing the short game and it shows.
Remember to keep your hands approximately three inches ahead of the ball when you are set up and keep most of your weight on the front foot. The result is a crisp, clean bump and run with a happy chip shot ending.
Always stick to the basics when performing the bump & run chip shot. With your stance in place and your weight shifted on the front foot, it’s time to make the swing.
On this type of shot you really want to avoid making too much of a divot. The club should hit the ball while it is accelerating, not slowing down. If your swing digs into the ground then it is likely to cause the club head to slow and your hopeful chip shot then turns into a bumbled fat shot.
Visualize hitting both the ball and the ground at once, with your wrists firm, while making a clean sweep of the club through the contact zone – then make it happen, just like described.
Flop Shot Basic Technique
When a flop shot is in order, make your stance practically identical to the bump & run stance. The only changes are that your feet should be closer together and your stance slightly more open. You may have differing adjustments than my recommended stance, and that is just fine so long as you adhere to the basic principles of what I am describing here.
Because I like to open my stance up a little more than most golfers, it allows me to play the ball far in the front and produces more loft. This means that I will be able to hit the ball with more height while reducing the amount of roll when it lands.
To hit the flop shot correctly the ball should be sitting just on top of the fluff of grass. This means that the shot is easier to hit when the ball is in the rough rather than on closely-trimmed fairway. And of course you need to pop the ball up (which requires that you hit under the ball). When playing on nicely cut grass, it is too easy to mess up and hit the ground first.
Last Minute Chipping Tips
Here are three key things to keep in mind whenever you are making a chip shot:
- Never pass on the bump & run shot if you have a clear, smooth pathway in between your ball and the hole.
- Not every chip shot has the same conditions so if you need more height on the ball, consider using a higher lofted club. The sand wedge or the pitching wedge are good choices. And for less height and more roll, look to the 7 or 8 iron.