The Easiest Shot In Golf
Learn to Hit Great Chip Shots
Chipping..."the easiest shot in golf." Really? I think so, I really do. I've been saying it for years. Here's why. You don't have to be particularly strong or athletic to make a small swing and get the ball to roll up close to the hole. Also, there isn't the pressure to actually make the shot like when you are putting. It's always been my favorite shot in golf. Not only is it easy to hit if you have proper technique and practice, it can be a life saver. Good chipping makes up for a lot of the other short comings in your game. Whether it is stray tee shots or poor approach shots, the chip can be your best friend.
Famous chip-ins that have saved the day:
- Tom Watson's chip in on the 17th hole of the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to go one up on Jack Nicklaus and eventually win.
- Tiger Wood's infamous chip-in in the 2005 Masters on the 16th hole. Who could actually ever forget that one, watching it pause briefly on the edge of the cup before dropping!
- Larry Mize's chip in on the second sudden death hole in the 1987 Masters to take down Greg Norman.
The unlikelihood of holing out a chip shot is what makes it even more exciting than making the longest of putts.
Chipping and Pitching. The Difference.
A question I receive a lot in lessons..."What exactly is the difference between a chip and a pitch?" A chip is generally a shorter shot, typically 20 yards and in to the pin. It is a lower shot that will hit the green and release or roll to the pin. Because of this it requires a shorter swing. A pitch is the opposite. It is generally (not always) hit from further out and is a higher shot that will spin and check more when it hits the green. It requires a bigger swing than the chip.
While I stated above that I believe chipping is the easiest shot to play, it can also cause your score to sky rocket if you are chili dipping or skulling shots around the green. Most research shows that the short game (shots 100 yards and in for most players) is roughly 65% of your total score with putting being around 43%. That means the other 20% or so are chips and pitches. If you are a 100s shooter and 20 shots are chips, then you'd better make sure you are pretty good at them.
To keep things simple, I break chipping down into 3 basic shots. The Chip-Putt, the Bump-and-Run and the Hinge-and-Hold. These basic shots can cover just about every situation you might encounter around the green. As with all short game shots though, the real masters are very creative and often make up shots of their own. The more inventive you can be, the better player you will become. Learn the old stand bys first and then you can have fun playing around the green testing your skills. When the pressure is on, it's always best to have basic shots to fall back on for safety.
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.