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Stop the Flip!
The Handle Comes First

Learn how to hit down rather than scoop chip shots.  Finish Low

Learn Impact First and Work Backwards

In your very first clinic or private lesson did your instructor talk about impact? Did they describe what it looked like and where your hands and club should be when you strike the ball? In most cases the answer to those questions ia a resounding "no." To me, that is maybe the biggest embarrassment in golf instruction. So many teachers spend the entire first lesson talking about fundamentals, pivot, or weight shift, yet the student doesn't even know where it is they are trying to get to. Learning impact, how to get there and the correct relationship between your hands and your club head should begin with chipping. Chipping after all is a mini version of a full swing. It is the impact zone of a full swing. Learning good form with a chipping stroke and extending the swing from there is a much easier way to go. Trying to learn a full swing first and then going back to learn the proper technique for chipping and pitching is a very backwards learning method to our brains.

To make learning a chip shot easier it is important that we first get a clear picture of what we are actually trying to do; hit down. This is the opposite of what most think when they are around the green and attempting short game shots. Most golfers have a strong urge to scoop or help the ball up in the air. As a result they hit "scoopy" or "fluffy" shots with little spin or control. When they flip their wrists and cup them through impact the ball just rolls up the face. At least that's what happens if they are lucky enough to not chunk it or blade it.

Overcome the Urge to Scoop

Overcoming the urge to scoop can be easy if you use a real life everyday example; sweeping dirt on a floor. Just grab a broom and start sweeping and you will instantly get the point and the proper feel. Notice the dragging or pulling feel as you advance the dirt forward. You naturally apply a downward and forward pressure as the handle stays well ahead of the bristles of the broom. The last thing you want to do is flip the bristles past the handle and scoop dirt up into the air. The proper technique for a short chip shot is no different. You need to keep your hands ahead and brush down and forward to compress the ball and get it to pop back up. This same down and forward pressure occurs in pitch shots and full swings as well. So what are the steps you can take to apply this sweeping motion to your chip shots?

  • Place your weight on your front (targetside) foot - Placing our weight forward helps us strike with a descending blow. Therefore it is important especially on short game shots to start the weight more on our front foot (80% for chipping) and keep it there throughout the stroke. Be careful of where your head is when you strike the ball. Too many players try to get their head behind the ball and this moves a lot of weight back. Keep your head on top of the ball when chipping.
  • Start with a slight forward press - For lower greenside chips start with a little forward press. This gives you the feel of where you want your hands to be at impact (ahead of the clubhead). Be careful not to press too far forward though as this can backfire and cause you to back the shaft up as you come through impact. Aligning them with the middle of your front thigh is a good rule of thumb.
  • Let gravity do it's job - The head of the club rests on the ground at impact and will return there if you don't put an opposite force on gravity. Simply let the club and your arms free fall and drop into the downswing. When you allow this free fall to happen you'll notice the shaft angle stays the same (leaning forward). It will only change and back up if you push and put uneeded pressure on the club.
  • Move the club with your pivot, not with your hands - Use your pivot (hips, core and shoulders) to move the club through the ball. The idea is to do nothing with the angle you have established in your wrists at address. Feel as if your arms, hands and clubs are one big unit that doesn't change and gets transported by your pivot. If you keep your pivot moving and ahead of your hands, then you can pull the club rather than push it. Using your pivot allows you to keep your front wrist flat as opposed to cupping it.
  • Leave the club down - After impact you should have no desire to swing the club back up. Just leave it down and leave it alone. This is definitely the part of the swing where you are probably trying too hard and need to be a bit more lazy. Hold your finish low and the ball will pop back up naturally. If you try to swing up you are only putting yourself in a position to scoop.

The Situation:

You are trying to figure out how to avoid scooping your greenside chip shots.

The Solution:

To hit crisp chip shots with control around the green mimic a sweeping motion. Keep your hands in the lead and let the club go down allowing gravity to pull the club to the ground. You should feel pressure going down and forward, but not up. Make sure to keep your weight left and keep your pivot in motion all the way through the strike. Leave the club down after impact, but don't suddenly stop the swing. Your swing will stop when your pivot stops. Be lazy and don't try to push the club or help it come back up.

Maria Palozola

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.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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