Golf Pitching & Chipping: How to Play Short Chips


Many golfers, even some highly talented players, struggle with playing short chips – the shorter the chip gets, the more they struggle to strike the ball well.

In this article, we’ll give you a very simple adjustment that will make these difficult shots very easy.

Why Do I Find Short Chips Difficult?

The problem that we most often see is a swing path that is too shallow.

Assuming that you have otherwise good mechanics, as described in the Pitch & Chip like a Champion series, then, with the very short swing that you need to launch the ball just a few feet, your backswing becomes very shallow – you don’t have enough time to set your wrists, and you take the club back too low – see Figure 1.

This is most often caused by having your hands centred in your stance at address – the butt end of the club directly under your nose – as opposed to having your hands slightly more forwards, in front of your sternum, as described in Golf Pitching & Chipping Drill 102 – Technique: Stance and Ball Position.

How to Play Short Chips: Shallow

Figure 1. Shallow Swing

A shallow swing path results in several problems:

  • If you’re in the greenside rough, as you usually are for these shots, then you’ll struggle to strike the ball cleanly, catching too much grass before the ball.
  • Even from a good lie, this shallow swing will give even the best players high chance of striking the ground before the ball, you’ll feel this instinctively and tense up.
  • You aren’t able to create enough momentum in the club head by just letting it drop into the ball, yet taking the club further back will mean that you’re likely to either over-hit the shot or to decelerate in the downswing and destroy your rhythm.
  • These factors combined create tension, and cause you to get “wristy” or “jabby” with the shot, pushing the club through impact, destroying your touch.
  • This, in turn, means that you won’t release the club properly with your body, further damaging your distance control and even creating the possibility of a double-hit.
  • This all means that your mechanics break down, as does your confidence, and you are highly likely to strike the ground before the ball or skull the shot way past the hole, which takes us back to the first two points, a vicious circle!

How to Master the Short Chip

While your hands should be slightly forwards at address for every pitch and chip shot, for these delicate little shots we’re going to push them even further forwards at the start of the swing to make the swing path even steeper.

Start by addressing the ball with your hands slightly more forwards, in front of your sternum, as described in Golf Pitching & Chipping Drill 102 – Technique: Stance and Ball Position – see Figure 2.

Choke down on the club a little for more control.

Then, to begin your stroke, press your hands forwards (towards the target) very slightly – see Figure 3.  This will cause the club face to open a fraction before it starts back.

How to Play Short Chips: Setup

Figure 2: Address the Ball

How to Play Short Chips: Forward Press

Figure 3. Forward Press

Now just make your stroke with your normal technique, as described in the Pitch & Chip like a Champion series.

This forward press “micro-move” at the start of your swing will cause you to hinge your wrists earlier, working the club head up more and creating more angle – see Figure 4, notice how the club is set much more than it was in Figure 1, even with a smaller backswing.

How to Play Short Chips: More Wrist Hinge

Figure 4. More Wrist Hinge

You can see how, in Figure 4, the club will have a much steeper angle of attack into the golf ball, when compared to Figure 1.

The backswing position in Figure 4 will enable you to just drop the club onto the ball and turn your body through, pinching the ball off the turf with a cleaner strike, creating a smooth, positive acceleration without fear of over-hitting the shot.

Quite significant changes to the length of your backswing will create only small differences in carry distance, giving you much greater control.

The ball will just pop out of the rough, land softly a few feet away, and roll out to the hole – even with a delicate little downhill chip out of the rough, as shown in the main image at the top of this article.

This article forms part of the Golf Loopy Pitch & Chip like a Champion series, the sensational new pitching and chipping game improvement system that will help you to improve every aspect of your performance around the greens.  The improvements will be dramatic, and they will be permanent.


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