By Steve Donelly
It is a pretty well known fact that more than half of the shots taken during the average round of golf take place within 100 yards of the green. If you are looking to shave a few strokes off of your score then tips on chipping is a great place to start.
Probably the major problem golfers have when it comes to chipping is to keep the hands ahead of the club through-out the chipping motion and not keeping the left wrist firm at impact. So, what is the secret to chipping well? First, remember to choke down on the club some to have greater control, open your stance and place the ball towards the back of your stance. Then, one drill that many people find helpful is to actually try chipping with just one hand; your left assuming you play golf right-handed. Don’t worry too much about where the ball goes. In fact you can try this on the driving range as a good warm-up. What you are looking for is the feel of not breaking your wrist through the impact area.
Something that does cause some confusion is proper club selection for chipping. A 7 iron is probably the best bet for a beginning golfer but once you become comfortable with that you might want to think about using either your 6 iron or 8 iron depending on the situation. Why is this? Well, conventional wisdom is to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible when approaching the green because the more you try to fly the ball the greater the chance of a mishit or just a poorly judged shot.
If you have a level lie an 8 iron chip will travel roughly half the distance in the air and half along the ground whereas a 6 iron chip will travel twice as far along the ground as it does in the air do to the lesser loft of the club. So, if you are close to the green and/or have a lot of green to work with the 6 iron is your best bet. Otherwise use your 8 iron. You can experiment with a 4 or 5 iron but the longer length of these clubs tends to make chipping more difficult.
Finally visualization works well when chipping as it does with other shots. For example, if you are using your 6 iron pick out a spot where you want to land the ball approximately 1/3 the distance to the pin. Visualize the ball flying to that spot then running the remaining distance to the hole. You may just be surprised at how accurate your chipping can be!
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