How To Chip The Ball Like The Pros
At last! A simple and effective training tool that really does make it easier to learn better chipping technique.
"Most club golfers chip with the ball way too forward in their stance. From here anything is possible, but rarely a good result."
Cameron Strachan - inventor of the Chip Master Pro
G'day. When I started teaching people how to play better golf by trusting their instincts and natural learning system, I couldn’t help but test their short game. And here’s what I found.
My clients, when taught how to automate their game, had pretty good hitting and putting skills. They had a repeatable swing and were able to putt fairly well.
This is my observation by the way. If you asked them they would say they were terrible at all areas, but this is another story entirely.
What was incredible was getting them to chip some balls towards a target. This really hit home to me how important the short game is.
Where previously I saw a rhythmical golf swing or putting stroke, the chipping action was horrendous.
Golfers would flinch, duff and scull the shots all over the place. Of the hundreds of lessons I gave, I can’t remember anyone who had better chipping skills than their putting or full swing. Nobody! At my indoor teaching facility, one pupil when attempting a small chip, took this massive backswing and then one ugly swipe at the ball. Somehow, he managed to miss the net and hit the window frame at full pace. I don’t know how the large window didn’t break.
It was one of the worst attempts at a golf stroke I've ever seen. I was in disbelief that someone could get such a basic shot so wrong - but over the journey I've seen many golfers struggle with the chipping game. I'm confident in saying that chipping is by far the worst skill for most golfers.
Poor chipping leads to poor scores, a lack of confidence and no way of maximising your talent/potential.
Your first point of call is to get some perspective. Chances are your chipping isn't even on your golf radar - that you're more worried about your full swing and maybe your putting.
What you might want to do is spend a few minutes with the local pro or a young gun. Pick someone who is dynamite around the green and compare your game to theirs. I love doing this with clients as it shows them how awful their chipping actually is. A good player can consistently get the ball close to the hole - while a poor chipper will duff, skull and shank these shots. This realisation may be enough for you to devote more time to your chipping practice and give you a good yardstick to aim for.
Even if you improve your chipping slightly, you'll see a reduction in your score. It may even be the easiest and fastest way to improve your score. The issue for many golfers is that chipping practice is nowhere near as sexy as the full swing. For this reason it is neglected.
Please note: I don't see myself as a chipping expert. Chipping used to be a terrible part of my game. But I've gotten better and now can chip better than most amateur players but a good professional would make me look very average.
The first thing you need to do if you want to improve your short game is to start small. Don’t aim too high and expect to improve all areas of your short game. Let’s start with the basics and creep up on the improvement cycle.
And I have to say the best way to do this is away from the golf course. It takes a little patience, but ensures your learning time is reduced. If you go too quickly you won’t improve, get bored, lose interest and be back where you started.
Sidenote: Although this will feel you're going in slow motion it's actually the fastest way to improve. You'll see results more quickly this way then any other method I know.
The reason for this is that the golf course is full of distractions. You start to worry if the ball is finishing close to the hole or what your score is. You goal is actually to learn how to chip better. Actual results don’t matter just yet – let’s focus on something different.
Your Chip Shot
Your initial goal should be to develop a basic chip shot. A little shot that you learn to repeat and rely upon.
And I want you to find a place where you can dig your heels in. Enough room for you to swing a club and without being distracted or cause too much damage.
I also recommend you don’t use golf balls just yet. Get your hands on some Almost Golf Balls and use these. These balls replicate real balls, but are safe to use inside or in urban areas. They are absolutely perfect for learning the short game because they fly nearly the same distances as regular golf balls. This product is essential if you’re serious about your golf – make sure you get some. To be honest, I don't think I've seen a better learning tool for helping golfers improve their chipping.
Another reason Almost Golf Balls are so good is because you have no fear of doing damage if you hit a poor shot. So you can find a quiet room in the house or backyard, never get distracted and learn this basic chip shot. You can't break anything! So your focus is on improving - this is important and vastly different from overloading your system with fear and other crappy thoughts.
The Chipping Process
Start with a sand iron and make a short back and through swing. Focus on rhythm and don’t concern yourself too much about results.
There should be minimal wrist cock and power. This is a tiny shot, not a power shot. The ball should stay fairly low – you’re not trying to hit the ball high into the air.
The big thing with this little shot is the ball position needs to be back in your stance. The exact location will depend on you, but it should NEVER go forwards of center.
There are no exceptions to this rule. If the ball goes too far forward in your stance you’ll be in big trouble.
You also want to keep hitting the same shot over and over again. This process is about learning “The Little Shot”. This is your “go to” shot that will become your security blanket around the green.
So go back and forth. Making the same swing and observing (note: I said observing. You are not to analyse and make all sorts of predictions and changes) what is happening.
In time you will start to find you’re hitting the same shot each time. You will find your balls finishing in the same area.
When you get to this point you can then up the ante.
Close your eyes
When you start making progress with The Little Chip shot you can take it a step further by closing your eyes. Make the same shot but this time keep your eyes shut.
This will push you a little further and give you some good feedback. You will be forced to listen and feel what is happening on each shot.
Take it a step further and see if you can guess where the ball will finish. It’s not easy as we usually rely too heavily on our eyesight. But remove the eyes and you’re forced to use your other senses.
This all helps to improve your chipping technique. The end goal here is you should be able to hit the same shot time after time.
The balls should finish close together with a really tight spread.
No matter how many times I tell a golfer to play the chip shot off the back foot he won't do it. They stuff up and continually struggle - yips, shanks and duffs are the norm. This doesn't happen all of the time, but it has happened so often I needed to find a cure...
I thought about a solution for ages, but nothing came to me. Then one night, out of nowhere, an idea came to me. I dreamed up a little device that would stop the rot once and for all. I jotted down a design, raced it over to my brother and the next day he had a working prototype for me. It worked so well that the idea was snapped up by an investment company and it has now been mass produced. It's called the Chip Master Pro.
Here's how it works.
There's a little ledge just behind the ball. If you strike the ground first (like many golfers do) you'll strike the ledge. This won't hurt but it will give you a jolt. You'll know instantly that you've done something wrong and from here you'll naturally make an adjustment.
Your objective, should you choose to accept it, is to strike the ball first and THEN the ground (slightly in front of the ball). There are clear markings on the Chip Master Pro to guide you, plus there are three different levels. The pro level is super tough that will definitely challenge you. I tested this on some of my golfing mates and they certainly struggled with it. I still find it amazing how many golfers really don't understand chipping. Even some good players would take huge strides with their game if they could only chip better.
Like all my training aides the Chip Master Pro is simple. But don't let simple fool you as I think I'm really onto a winner here. After a few minutes chipping with the CMP here's what you'll find.
- The ball will instinctively go back in your stance - coz if you have it too far forward you'll hit the ledge. Hitting the ledge does not feel good. From here chipping becomes infinitely more easier - I promise.
- Your hands will go forward - isn't this what all the pros tell you to do? This gives you a consistent contact and just the right amount of power.
- You'll simplify your action. No longer will you have a messy chipping action - it will improve all by itself so you avoid hitting that dreaded ledge. Seriously, I can't begin to tell you how effective this it. For starters you'll find your wristy action eliminated or reduced.
- You'll get beautiful contact. The CMP is made from a firm plastic (it's durable but not going to wreck you or your club) so perfect contact gives you the most solid feeling you can imagine. The feel (and sound) from a nicely struck chip is the ideal feedback you need to understand what you should be doing.
- Any poor shot and you'll get instant feedback right away. It's so simple but effective. Your learning time is reduced to a few minutes a day. In a week or so I seriously doubt you'll have any chipping issues. If you flick your wrists you won't get the sound of club hitting the plastic and you'll know right away you've gone missing (plus the ball will probably go flying along the ground)
Just recently I've shown the ChipMaster Pro to a number of golf professionals and they were mighty impressed at how it worked. They loved the feedback it gave and enjoyed hitting from it. Not sure why, but the pro's also like hitting the ledge and getting a laugh from the little jolt they got. Strange lot these golf pro's.
I'm talking this device up but it has turned out brilliantly well. When I tried the first prototype I was chipping balls in the front yard. The old guy from across the road was watching and couldn't help himself - he came over to give it a go and said to me "I'm the worst chipper in the world".
"Not anymore", I said.
Like many, he started with the ball too far forward. He it the ledge. Ouch. We reset and tried again. Whack, straight into the ledge. This time he moved the ball back. The hands went forward and he struck the ball with a very slightly descending blow. The sound of club hitting the plastic mat told us the shot was perfect. The ball popped into the air and traveled a few metres in front of him. Note: I didn't tell him to shift the ball position - he did it all by himself.
The old man smiled. He had just learned a better chipping technique in 3 shots. I wish I had another sample to give him but I'm sure he'll be knocking on my door when the first batch arrives. For me this is like magic - I didn't have to tell him too many instructions - he learned a better technique all by himself and I knew the Chip Master was a winner. A great coaching session that gets me excited to help more golfers.
One of the beauties of this device is you can use it with and without golf balls. It also works nicely with the Almost Golf Balls.
If chipping has been a problem for you then you definitely need to get a Chip Master Pro. It's a great device and something I'm really proud of.
After playing around with this for a few weeks now, the CMP can be used for lob shots (unbelievable when you get it right) and pitch shots. I'm not going to encourage you to hit shots too hard from it because striking the ledge may hurt. But in time, you'll be able to learn all shorts of miniature shots that will help you develop a better short game.
Works for all sorts of chip shots. Lob wedge, 9 iron and even the 6 iron. Really helps you focus on getting nice and consistent contact time after time. Also comes with training manual and when I get a chance, I'll shoot some video on how to best use it.
Check out the video of "Steady" using the Chipmaster.