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Golf - Using The Chip Shot To Lower Your Score

By: Donald Saunders

Did you know that approximately 75% of all golf shots are made from within 120 yards of the pin. In essence, this means that your ability to hit a good chip shot can have a marked effect on your final score for a round.

If you're confused by terms, a chip shot is a low trajectory shot whose principal aim is to get the ball to roll. A pitch shot, by contrast, shoots the ball high into the air and carries it farther but is designed to have very much less roll.

Club selection is important for chipping and if you're just starting out then try using an 8 iron. As a general guide, for every foot that you put the ball into the air with an 8 iron it will roll approximately 3 feet. By contrast, a 9 iron will roll the ball about 2 feet for the same height and a 7 iron will roll it about 4 feet.

The next important consideration is your stance. For a medium distance shot you want to have your heels about one foot apart, decreasing this distance for shorter shots and increasing it for longer shots. You should also ensure that your stance is opened to about 30 and that your weight is shifted slightly onto your front foot.

Make sure the club face is pointing directly at the target and that your hands are positioned ahead of the club head. Most poor chip shots occur when the club head overtakes the hands and it is important to remember that your hands should lead the club head through the shot. Finally, make sure that the ball is positioned slightly off-center and towards the toe of your back foot.

As you take your shot keep your lower body relaxed and your shoulders lined up and parallel to the target line. The open nature of your stance may well produce a tendency to point your shoulders to the left and this should be avoided.

Because you're not trying to drive the ball any great distance, your back-swing should be relatively short. As a guide, the average golfer swinging back to his waist and accelerating the club head down will shoot the ball in excess of 25 yards.

Two of the most common errors seen in chipping are known as "chunkers", in which the ball falls far short of its target, and "skulls", in which the ball flies past the green.

Chunkers are the result of hitting the ball too high into the air and you need to be careful not to get too far under the ball so that you are hitting the ground or to scooping the ball. Skulls on the other hand result from hitting the top of the ball, often with the rising or leading edge of the club, causing a low shot which overshoots the pin. To avoid both of these use a smooth pendulum motion keeping your wrists still and just barely sliding the club head under the ball.

Every individual will chip the ball slightly differently and so you will need to experiment. Practice with a number of different clubs and get a feel for what works best for you. In no time at all you'll have your chip shots going exactly where you want them to.

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