Golf IQ

3 smart-and-simple ways to stop you hitting ‘disaster chips’


James David Phenicie

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I live in the northeast, and since moving here, I’ve seen the quality of my chipping slowly decline over the years. Partly for good reason (I can’t practice it half the year, when it’s cold and snowy) and partly for bad reason (because I generally don’t practice it as much as I should when I do have the chance).

But towards the end of last season, I started to see an uptick in my chipping performance, largely because, on the advice of lots of coaches, I focused on trying to simplify things. Not just in my technique, but in my approach. Rather than trying to get fancy and hit lots of different shots like the pros, I began opting for more high percentage, easy-to-hit shots around the green. And it started to work!

So, that’s what Reed Howard, my co-host and TPI certified trainer, and I talk about in the latest episode of the GOLF IQ podcast. It's only 10 minutes, and you can listen to it below (and subscribe to the podcast right here!)

It’s pretty simple to try for yourself, too. Here’s how.

1. When in doubt, use the go-to low shot

Ultimately, the key to simplifying your chipping is to do more with less. Rather than becoming a master of none, get good at hitting one specific shot, and use it whenever you can.

The go-to most coaches recommend (as Butch does in his Golf Digest Schools series), is a stock, lower shot.

"This isn't a 60 yard pitch shot,” Reed says on the podcast. "This is a standard greenside chip that will carry about 20 feet, and roll out another 10 feet."


Cliff Hawkins

As for how to hit it, Butch, like most coaches, recommends...

  • Leaning the shaft slightly forward
  • Ball slightly back in the stance
  • More weight on your lead side

You can use a variety of clubs for the shot. From a short iron (for a true bump-and-run) to a wedge for a slightly spinner version. Either way, what’s most important is solid contact. It’s a simple move, and one that will become your go-to for most shots.

2. Understand bad lie 'thud'

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in greenside rough, in which case you’ll need to use the “thud” shot. The technique required most times will be similar to your go-to (though you’ll probably need to hit it a little harder).

What will change is the result. So even though the way you hit the shot is largely similar, you’ll need to understand the ball will come out with more of a thud, and you’ll need to aim more conservatively as a result.

"The ball is going to come out with no spin, the trajectory is more inconsistent," Reed says. "If you hit 30 chips before the season gets going from bad lies, you'll save yourself so many shots later on.”


Sergei Kozak

3. Only go high when you *need* to

Sometimes, like when you’ve made the killer mistake of missing on the short side of the green or have a bunker between you and the hole, you’ll need to go high.

For this, you’ll need to adjust your technique by opening the clubface more, bringing the shaft closer to the ground, getting your weight more even on both legs, and making a bigger swing.

"You probably only use this shot about 15 percent of the time," Reed says. “When you don't have much room for roll.”

Remember that this isn’t your go-to. Flop shots are fun, but treat them like a fire alarm. Only pull the lever when you really need to. Your scorecard will thank you for it.

Once again you can subscribe to the podcast, or listen to more episodes, below.