Chipping is an often overlooked part of the game by many amateurs, despite it being one of the areas of our game we can pick up the greatest amount of strokes with some regular practice.
Every weekend I play with golfers who have terrible chipping technique – they probably couldn’t even describe their technique to me – and lament the fact they thin balls over the back of the green and can’t get them to grip and spin ‘like the pros do’.
Now, chipping has a spectrum of styles, techniques and difficulties, some which should be employed regularly and others saved only for certain skill levels and conditions, but in the end, there are four key techniques and types of shots that anyone can play in order to see good results.
The best chipping techniques in golf include the bump and run; the lower-flighted chip; the higher-flighted chip; and the flop shot, all of which are ranked from easiest to hardest to play. Learn to execute all four shots and you’ll dramatically improve your game.
While mastering all of these techniques will help you get up and down from almost every situation, having real confidence in one or two – particularly the easier ones if you’re a higher handicapper – will give you a reliable set of tools to get you nearer to the hole most of the time.
And if you’re wondering what the difference between a chip and pitch shot is, check out another article I’ve written on the subject here.
What are the best chipping techniques in golf?
There are four distinct ways you can chip the golf ball, with each method suited to different scenarios and requiring a varying level of skill to execute correctly.
Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.
Chipping technique #1: The bump and run
The bump and run is an absolute must for everyone’s kit bag as it is reliable, easy to play and will be appropriate for a lot of situations golfers usually find themselves in.
It starts with a lower-lofted club, generally a 7-iron works well, and the ball more towards the back of your stance in order to keep it low.
The swing for the bump and run uses stable elbows and quiet wrists, essentially an exaggerated putting stroke where the movement comes from the shoulders.
Some people even go down the route of purchasing a chipper – perfectly designed for this type of stroke – to play a bump and run (we’ve revealed our top chippers here).
It is important to keep the backswing as short as possible here to help the clubface contact the ball first on a slightly downward attack angle, helping to keep the leading edge down.
By hitting ‘up’ on the ball you risk collecting it with the leading edge, thinning it through the back of the green.
Once you have the general technique down, practice with different length backswings to throw the ball shorter or longer distances onto the green, influencing the run out.
In any situation where there is a relatively clear path between you, the green and the hole, the bump and run can be a successful technique to use when chipping.
Chipping technique #2: The lower flighted chip
Similar to a bump and run, the low runner is a fairly easy chipping technique to master, but does incorporate a little more risk than the bump and run due to the introduction of greater loft.
While the bump and run is a handy, simple technique, it is very hard to stop the ball with such little loft, which can make it difficult to pull off when chipping downhill.
If you have a clear path between yourself and the hole it doesn’t make sense to go high, but you might need to get a little ‘zip’ on the ball to stop it catching a downslope and rolling off a green.
By using a lower lofted wedge – such as a 50 or 52-degree wedge – and playing the ball on the inside of the back foot, you can still get a low trajectory and a little rollout, however, if performed correctly, the ball will grip and hold up closer to the hole.
A downward strike that connects with ball first, then ground, will utilise the grooves on the clubface to impart spin on the ball and help it stop dead after a few skips.
While the chipping action is similar to that of the bump and run, being a little looser in the wrists here can help to impart spin on the ball and get it to stop.
Just make sure that the weight stays on that front foot and keep the hands forward to stop the leading edge from lifting up too much and risking catching it thin.
A wedge such as the 50 degree Callaway Mack Daddy is a good option for someone who thinks a lower flighted chip is a suitable option for their game or course.
We’ve listed the 23 best wedges you can buy in another article here, where we’ve revealed our top picks for every situation.
Chipping technique #3: The higher flighted chip
If you have a higher skill level or play at a course with lots of obstacles around the greens, like bunkers or swales, you’re probably going to need to learn to play a higher chip shot to carry hazards that get in your way.
The bump and run won’t be able to fly bunkers or hollows, much like the lower flighted chip.
To go more aerial, you’ll need to use more loft, with 60-degree options – or even 64 degree options – in wedges such as the Callaway Jaws Full Toe and Cleveland CBX Full Face being suitable for these types of shots.
Unlike lower flighted chips, when going high the ball should be played off of the front foot with weight and hands still staying forward but the face slightly more open.
The higher lofted chip is designed to go high in the air and land closer to the hole or spot you are aiming for, with only a little rollout and pulling up quickly.
By playing with a slightly open face you’ll increase the loft a little and help generate more height and spin, but this does expose the leading edge a bit more.
This is why it is increasingly crucial, as chipping techniques become more difficult, to keep your weight and hands forward so that the leading edge doesn’t lift up and present itself to the equator of the ball.
Finally, you may allow a little more wrist action again in order to help impart spin, but just be mindful that the more wristy you get, the greater the risk involved as it becomes more difficult to keep the leading edge of the club down at the right time.
Additionally, it is important to accelerate through the ball, so keep the backswing compact if only flying the ball a short distance so you avoid the temptation to decelerate.
Chipping technique #4: The flop shot
The flop shot is probably the hardest and riskiest chipping technique to master, given the amount of loft presented is designed to make it go a short distance and how incorrect execution can lead to bladed shots (the exact opposite ball flight to what was intended).
It requires a real commitment to the shot and confidence in your technique.
To play the flop shot, you’ll need to use a club with a very high loft, such as a 60 degree wedge, maybe a even a 64 degree wedge.
The clubface should be opened flat to help the ball fly high into the air, given the extremely high loft created.
With the ball inside your lead foot and weight forward, you should accelerate through the ball, breaking your wrists after contact.
It is vital, however, not to release the wrists too early, as a flipping action can cause the leading edge to be presented, creating thin strikes.
The hands must stay in front of the club through contact, only breaking at the last moment.
The flop shot can be daunting, but with practice and a clear understanding of the technique required, it can become a real weapon, flying hazards with ease and stopping dead near the hole.
What is an easy chipping technique?
The easiest chipping technique is the bump and run, played with a mid-lofted club such as a 7-iron. With a putting stroke, quiet wrists and stable elbows, rock the shoulders back and through to clip the ball off the ground. To perform this shot effectively, the ball should be played off the back foot with hands forward and weight on the front foot.
The bump and run won’t be ideal for every situation, but it is incredibly useful when you have a clear path to the hole and by far the easiest technique to master.
By using the same technique and experimenting with higher lofted clubs or even wedges, you can potentially use it to fly small obstacles such as rough near the green or the edge of a bunker.
Best drills for chipping in golf
People don’t spend nearly enough time practicing their chipping, or when they do, they mindlessly hit chip after chip trying to get it to land right next to the pin.
This fails to acknowledge the fact that greens have contours and ripples that need to be judged, and sometimes your landing area is miles away from the actual hole.
The best set of drills for improving your chipping combines strike and touch, so that you can not only make good contact, but can land the ball where you need to in order to have it release out to the pin.
Chipping drill #1: The hoop drill
With some putting or chipping hoops, practicing landing or even stopping balls within a set area is a great way to develop a sense of feel and being able to fly your chip shots the perfect distance no matter what the scenario.
Add pressure by creating a game where you can’t change drills until you hit five in a row into your target.
Chipping drill #2: The trail hand drill
One of the biggest problems golfers have when chipping is with thin shots, so this drill aims to keep the trail hand from activating too early and lifting the leading edge into the ball.
Simply make some chip shots, except right before impact take the trail hand away from the club.
This will force you to keep the lead hand strong, helping the leading edge drive downwards and underneath the ball.
Chipping drill #3: The tee drill
This drill takes inspiration from the saying ‘aim small, miss small’ by taking the ball out of the equation and making the target a tee instead.
It can be easy to make reasonable contact with the ball when chipping and get away with a result that’s not too bad, but if you are trying to chip a tee up into the air, it will only work if you connect with the tee and ground perfectly.
Izzo Golf’s Flat Ball Training Aid is also a great little tool to really focus you in on that perfect strike, offering clear feedback for shots that would have been fat or thin.
Best tips for better chipping
The number one tip for better chipping is to keep the leading edge down so that you can have confidence to accelerate through the ball without thinning it. Many golfers lack commitment when chipping, come out of the shot early, then present the leading edge, blading the ball. By keeping the weight forward and hands in front of the clubhead, you’ll be more likely to keep the leading edge down through impact.
Again, Izzo Golf’s Flat Ball Training Aid is a product you can use to practice your strike as it gives fantastic feedback on fat and thin shots.
Given that the discs you are trying to hit are so thin, swings that would have been heavy or bladed will miss the disc all together, instantly making you aware of what would have been a poor strike.
By using this training aid at home or inside (it won’t travel far) you will get great practice in keeping the leading edge down in order to collect the disc with precise contact.
Another important tip when it comes to chipping is the need to keep your weight forward.
As soon as you start to lean or rock back, you make it harder to collect the ball with a downward strike and risk presenting the leading edge and catching the ball thin.
By keeping your weight up to 80 percent on the front foot when chipping, you help to move everything ‘down’, allowing the loft of the club to do the work and pop the ball up into the air.
How do you get a chip shot to check up/spin?
To get a chip shot to check, you need to focus on keeping your weight forward and striking the ball first, then ground, with the leading edge down. Often golfers lament their chip shot rolling out too far, but this often means that you have struck the shot fat, failing to collect the ball with the face of the club first and allowing the grooves to impart spin on the ball.
There are numerous wedges on the market with high toes and elaborate grooving – such as the TaylorMade Big Foot – but to take advantage of this technology, you have to make good contact with the ball.
This means keeping weight forward to help the leading edge stay down and slip under the ball, with the face being the part of the club making initial contact with the ball.
This allows the loft and grooves to impart backspin on the ball to get that much desired ‘fizz’.
A common misconception from amateurs is the need to whip the wrists to impart spin, but this isn’t necessarily true.
When playing higher-lofted, higher-flighted shots, it can help to allow the breaking of the wrists through impact, but this isn’t the main thing that will assist in getting spin.
By getting the right contact, you can play a low running chip shot that takes a few hops, then grips, without needing to get the wrists active.
What degree wedge is best for chipping?
The best, most versatile wedge for chipping is a 52-degree wedge with a bounce of around 8-10 degrees. You can play both lower runners off the back foot with a closed face, as well as higher flighted chips off the front foot with a more open face. However, if you prefer to play a simple bump and run, you’ll have more success with a mid/short iron.
The best wedge for you also comes down to confidence and preference, and generally moving from lower-lofted to higher-lofted wedges adds complexity to making a good strike, but can also be offset by better results.
Chipping with a 64-degree wedge – the Wilson harmonised wedges come in a 64-degree option – for example, can be daunting as it seems quite easy to present the leading edge, but when used effectively, the result is high-flighted chips that pull up quickly near the hole.
Ultimately, I’d recommend learning to chip and developing your technique with a 50 or 52-degree wedge, then as you gain confidence, start experimenting with higher-lofted wedges a little more.
What is the rule of 12 in chipping?
The rule of 12 refers to the idea that when chipping, there is a ratio of flight to roll that can be expected from each club. For example, a sand wedge is expected to roll out the same distance as it flies when chipping, a ratio of 1:1. A 7-iron has a ratio of 1:5, rolling out five times farther than it flies. If you add the club number and the roll distance together, it will always equal 12 (yards).
Obviously, this is only an estimate and there are a range of factors at play, but if you have the absolute chipping yips and need something to guide you around your club choice and what shot to play, the rule of 12 could be a place to start.
Clearly, a 7-iron won’t always roll out 5 times farther than it flies – depending on conditions, strike, incline and more – but it could be a strategy worth tinkering with, especially on holes where the approach to the green is quite flat.
Should you hit down when chipping?
Yes, it is important to hit down when chipping and to strike the ball with a slightly negative attack angle. By keeping the weight and hands forward when chipping, you will be more likely to collect ball first, then ground, using the face of the club and its grooves to help impart a greater amount of spin on the ball.
The need to hit down is vitally important when chipping and something that many golfers have a poor concept or understanding of.
We see the pros play amazing, gripping chip shots where they seem to clip the ball off the ground with ease, but crucially, they still hit the ball with a downward strike.
Now, it’s important not to be too steep as this can lead to chunked shots if you don’t quite get ball first, but a slightly negative attack angle will help meet the ball with the clubface, using the grooves to impart spin and help your chip to check up.
Chipping is a too often overlooked part of the game, and if you don’t have a reliable and repeatable technique, start working on one today.
If you have a 7-iron then you have a viable chipping technique at your disposal, the bump and run being a great starting point.
As you gain confidence, move into the wedges and practice higher-flighted shots.
Master both the high and low chip and you will be every chance to shave valuable strokes from your scores.
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