No matter what the skill level of player, everyone can benefit from practicing his or her short game. Some players prefer using just one club out of their bag for chipping; I think it helps everyone to have several different clubs to create options in their ball flight around the green. Depending on the lie or the length of the shot, it’s important to choose the right club for the job.
One of the keys to consistently better chipping is to first look at the overall shot before making a club selection. Ask yourself these questions: How long does the ball have to be in the air to reach the one-third point of the total shot? Does it have to go over a bunker, or is it just a bit of rough and then the green? These are key questions when determining which club to use for the shot. My suggestion would be to have at least two or three golf clubs that you’re comfortable with and that give you shot variance. For example, the three clubs that I use the most around the greens for chipping are a pitching wedge, a 54-degree wedge, and a 60-degree wedge. By using these clubs I have one shot that is low and rolls, one that lands and settles quickly, and a shot that is high and sits softly.
While the club selection around the green varies depending on the circumstances, the technique remains the same: stance open to the target line, a little more weight on the forward foot, and the heel of the club slightly off the ground. Having your stance slightly open to the target line allows you to feel the club travel towards the target.
Always remember that in golf, alignment is twofold: one for the target line, and a parallel line for your body position. Also, weight distribution plays a critical role in hitting your chip correctly. As you take your stance, distribute your weight slightly towards your front foot. This allows the club to make impact with a slightly downward angle, which helps ensure a more solid strike on the golf ball.
Another key ingredient to successful chipping is the overall length of the stroke. I’m a very big believer in teaching my students that the stroke has to “match.” For example, if the golf club in the backswing goes just underneath your knee,
then the club should go forward to the same position in the downward or forward part of the swing.
Not only does this help with solid contact, but it also ensures that the golf club doesn’t slow down or decelerate into the golf ball. Remember that we’re working on a golf swing, not a golf hit.