Experts often say that good chipping is the most crucial stroke if you want to win more rounds of golf.
We are going to give you some excellent practise chipping drills for beginners to improve your chipping. We have developed these over the years by trial and error and kept them short and simple, that way it is easier to see when you are making real progress.
We would advise that you practise one drill until you get good at it, or until you get bored. (We regard boredom as the enemy of good golf, after all, golf is supposed to be fun, and we don’t believe you can learn anything when you are bored, you stop concentrating and get frustrated). We suggest you practise until you are right, or until you are bored, then move on to the next exercise.
We have also added some mental strengthening exercises as the chip shot is the part of the game when a lot of pressure is on.
Finally, we know that however much you would like to be out on the course every day, that isn’t always possible. To accommodate this, we have added a few chipping drills which you can do inside your own home.
But first of all, some basics, such as defining a chip shot and sorting out what clubs you need.
To play a chip shot, you will usually use a wedge or sometimes 7 or 8 irons. So, make sure you have these clubs before practice begins.
What is a chip shot?
Chipping, or playing a chip shot is what gets you onto the putting green. It is a shot played close to the green when your ball has landed in the rough longer grass or the shorter fringe just off the green.
The pressure is on because you have an obstacle to overcome, with your ball stuck in that long grass and you are going to need a particular shot to get out of there and onto the green. When your ball is in the long grass, you probably need a chip shot. You aim to hit the ball briefly into the air, the ball then hits the ground and rolls towards the hole (or even into it!).
Chipping shots are not to be confused with pitching shots, you will take those from further away and where the ball will stay in the air longer.
Common mistakes when chipping the golf ball
The rookie mistake with chip shots is usually speeding, too much of it and your ball will overshoot, and most beginners do not slow their game to gain the control they need.
We all make this mistake, if you think about it. By the time you come to chip the golf ball, you have just belted the ball down the fairway, it has flown through the air because of your speed and power, and you feel great. But that ball didn’t go exactly where you wanted, and now it is in the rough. It is time to make a complete change, and this is where what we call your short game comes into play.
Good chipping is about control and accuracy rather than speed and power, so our first drills are about getting that right.
The basics of all good chip shots
Get these right before you make any chip shot, and you will be halfway there.
- Stance, stability is all, so stand with your legs slightly apart for lower- body stability.
- Grip, not too tight, a looser grip makes it easier to control the clubhead. Swing at a slower speed and consistent rhythm.
Chipping drills to develop core golfing skills
Throw a ball
Start where your ball is, from here, take another golf ball and gently throw it towards the hole. The point is to feel the speed at which the ball is travelling. Follow this routine:
- throw the ball
- then hit a golf ball with your club (replicating that throwing speed with a smooth, soft swing controlling the clubhead)
- Repeat, throw the ball then hit the ball
Do this ten times. Notice how you now have a much better feel for the speed the ball should be travelling when you hit it?
Close eyes chipping drill
Closing your eyes may sound counter-intuitive, but many coaches swear by this drill when you are starting out. The idea is this; when you close your eyes, you are much more aware of your body and how you are controlling your muscles.
Try this routine:
- look from the ball to the target
- visualise making the shot
- close your eyes
- play the shot
- Open your eyes, to see how you did
As you do this drill, work hard to feel how you feel. How does the club feel? How does your swing feel? How does your body feel? Keep on repeating the drill until you make an excellent shot. Then stop, close your eyes again and recreate those feelings by running through them in your mind. Recreating feelings will help lock those feelings and those actions in your memory.
Jack Nicklaus famously claimed he never made a shot he couldn’t visualize.
Visualization is a crucial part of all parts of the game, but your chip shot drill is where you can learn this invaluable golfing skill. Chip shots are the right place for a beginner to learn because, for most of us, it is easier to visualize a short chip shot than it is a shot going down the whole fairway. Do it this way:
Break down the shot by doing the following:
- Look at the ball
- Look at where you want it to go
- Decide what club you are going to use
- Visualize your stance, (start at your feet and scan up your body to the top of your Get a clear picture of how you look and let your brain tell you how you feel). Correct anything which is wrong
- Focus on your grip, keep it firm but light
- Focus on the angle of your club, adjust until perfect
- Visualise hitting the ball
- Watch the ball’s trajectory
- Then make the real shot
If you want to know more about the science behind golf visualisation try this excellent explanation from Eric Jones
Chipping drills to improve your control
Good chip shots are all about power. I designed this drill to help you improve your distance control.
- With a lofted club make a short backswing, so the clubhead reaches ankle height
- Chip five balls and take note of their position
- Do it again, bring the swing to your knees, chip five balls
- Repeat, taking your swing to your hip, chip five balls
This routine will give you a good feel for how high your swing needs to be to get a certain distance. Practise this as often as possible until it becomes second nature.
Lower body stability
Part of good chipping is keeping your weight stable and balanced. Jamie Mcconnell shows how vital lower body stability is here.
You aim to distribute your weight for proper balance and stability without even thinking about it. The trick is to keep your weight slightly on your front leg. An excellent way to learn this is by practising shots keeping your weight on the front leg.
- Stand with your feet apart with your lead foot slightly in front (the preferred stance when making a chip)
- Transfer most of your weight on your front foot
- Put the ball in front of your front foot
- Lift your back foot and put just your toe on the ground
- Make your shot
Chipping drills for beginners at home
Some of the routines above can be adapted so you can practise them at home. Here are a couple more to add to your routine. All you need is some clear space and a carpeted floor.
Rug and tea towel
Make sure there are no breakables around!
- Put a small rug on the floor 8 feet from where you will be hitting
- Chip the ball onto the rug
- Repeat until you can hit ten balls onto the rug in a row
Once you can hit ten balls, you can move on to the next stage. Swap the rug for a tea towel (it should be about half the size) and practise again.
Coining it with chips
If you can hit a coin and get it where you want it, then a golf ball will be a breeze won’t it? There are some excellent reasons why hitting a coin will improve your accuracy, and this golf info site video explains the theory very well (as well as showing a lovely clean shot of where the coin hits a wall with a most satisfying Piing!)
Here is our custom drill to add a bit of excitement to the process. This great little drill which you can do inside as well as out will improve both your skill and your confidence. Just a word of warning, don’t use your best clubs as you may scratch them.
Set out a row of 10 to 20 coins a few inches apart (as many as you can depending on what space you have). The aim is to send each into the air
- Work your way down the row quickly, without thinking too much
- Note your score
Aim to get all the coins into the air consistently. When you succeed, move on to the next stage. Put a cup a few feet away and try to get the coins into the cup.
Once you can do that, change the distance of the cup and practise nearer and further.
Chipping drills which improve your mental skills
As we know, mental toughness is part of every aspect of the golf game. But it is especially important in the short game (pitching and chipping shots). You are nearer the hole, and the tension is high. So, we have put some drills in here which will not only improve your chipping but will strengthen your mental game and help you cope with pressure as well.
Five balls, all angles
- Place five balls in the rough or fringe around the hole at different spots and different distances
- Hit all balls
- At the end take the ball from your best shot away
- Repeat with four balls
- Take away your best shot
- Repeat with three balls
- Take away your best shot
- Repeat with two balls
- Take away your best shot
Then re-run the drill placing the balls in different places.
10-foot ring around the hole
- Mark out a 10-foot radius around the hole using tees, or towels
- Pick a location to chip from, not too hard to start (one where you know you have a good chance of getting in the ring)
- Take five balls and chip with the aim of getting within the ring
- Once you have achieved that, make the ring smaller (to 7 feet)
- Repeat then make the ring 5 feet
- Once you get the ball into the 5 feet, ring consistently move to a more difficult chipping position and repeat
Chipping drills for beginners summary
We hope you find these drills cover most of your bases as a beginner.
Let us know how you get on or any exercises you have developed which are improving your game. Remember practice is as important as play at every skill level of the game of golf. It can be fun as well, and we hope our drills can convince you of that too.
Have fun Golfing!