Golf Pitch & Chip Shots



Jay Morelli, Director of the Original Golf School, Mount Snow, Vermont

The chip-and-run shot is a real stroke saver. Visualize the chip, where will it land, and how far it will run. To play it, position the ball slightly back in the stance. Your hands will then be slightly ahead of the club head, creating an angle. Try to maintain that angle throughout the chip stroke. Your weight should be a little on your forward foot. This setup will create a slightly descending club head angle. Swing through smoothly and hold the angle to a low finish.



Tom Joyce, PGA Pro Emeritus, Glen Oaks Golf Club, Maiden, North Carolina

Before you overthink the mechanics of any shot, you have to identify the lie. Is the ball sitting up in the grass or is it in a little depression? The ball will react differently depending on the lie. If the ball is sitting up, with some grass underneath, it will go higher and softer off the club face. If the ball is sitting down, it will come out of the lie lower and faster. Recognizing how the ball will react is not something you try to change; rather, it’s something you adjust for.



Tom Joyce, PGA Pro Emeritus, Glen Oaks Golf Club, Maiden, North Carolina

Chipping is simply putting with a medium-lofted club, like a 5 to 8 iron. The length and the pace of the swing control distance. The backswing and follow-through should be the same. The swing should be in rhythm. On a short chip, there should be a short backswing and follow-through. On a longer chip, both the backswing and follow-through should be longer and equal in length. Just as in putting, it’s good to make the swing similar to the motion of a pendulum.



Andy Hardiman, PGA Teaching Pro, Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale, New York

Most golfers try to scoop the ball up when they chip, resulting in either hitting behind the ball or topping it. To prevent this, I suggest using a putting grip, even on chip shots. Extend the left forefinger down the shaft, and then make your normal putting stroke. Change clubs for desired distance and action. Use a fairly straight-faced club, like a 6 or 7 iron, on long chips where you have a lot of green to run the ball. Use a more lofted club, like an 8 or 9 iron, when you do not have a lot of green to work with. This helps eliminate the pressure involved in the shot, and you will gain more confidence.



Marc Turnesa, PGA Director of Golf, Rockville Links Club, Rockville Centre, New York

The setup is very important in order to hit a chip shot crisply. Your weight should be slightly forward, so you are leaning a little toward the target. Ball position should be center or slightly back in the stance. The handle of the club must stay forward of the club head through contact. Hit the ball with a descending blow, taking a small divot after the shot.



Wendy Modic, LPGA Teaching Pro, Fenway Golf Club, Scarsdale, New York

You should vary the size of your swing with the distance of the chip or pitch shot. To get a good picture of this, imagine yourself standing in the face of a clock, with the ball and your feet at the six o’clock position and your head at the twelve o’clock position. Swing the club from five o’clock to seven o’clock for the shortest shots, four o’clock to eight o’clock for a longer shot, and three o’clock to nine o’clock for still longer shots.



Tom Joyce, PGA Pro Emeritus, Glen Oaks Golf Club, Maiden, North Carolina

The number-one most common error in chipping is when the club head passes the hands before impact. This produces the dreaded flip, flop, or flub. Uncocking of the wrists before impact creates a scooping impact that will never lead to consistency. On your downswing, your hands must lead the way down, delaying the release of the club head until the last possible moment. The shaft of the club will be leaning slightly toward the target, which will create crisp and solid shots. Impact errors during chip shots are often attributed to an incorrect address position. At address, make sure you:

  1. Set your hands slightly ahead.
  2. Lean a little toward the target.
  3. Narrow your stance.
  4. Position the ball slightly back of center.

Practice these simple fundamentals and you will be a former flipper, flopper, and flubber!



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