Short Game Games

Lower your scores by making practice fun

Chipping For Dollars

Getting up and down consistently is often dependent on your chipping ability. Compete with yourself or a friend and improve your stroke quickly.
Here’s a chipping game that’s fun to play by yourself or with a partner. Place three clubs about three feet behind and around the hole (pictured above). You can vary the distance the clubs are from the hole, depending on how challenging you want the game to be, but three feet is a good place to start. Pick any type of chip shot you want (bump-and-run, spinner, flop, etc.) and play nine holes at a time by chipping nine balls as close to the hole as possible. After you hit your shots, walk to the hole and remove the three clubs. Add a stroke for any ball that touched the clubs. Every ball represents a hole in a round of golf. If you can make your first putt on any ball that didn’t touch a club, consider that a par. Obviously, if you hole out, that’s a birdie. Putt all the balls out with a two-putt maximum (two putts also adds a stroke). Keep your score and challenge yourself to get better every time you play. This game is particularly good because it also tests your putting ability.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s important to combine chipping and putting practice. It simulates what you’ll have to do on the golf course.
One of the most important things you can do to improve your short game is find ways to combine chipping and putting. Obviously, when you’re playing a round of golf, you don’t get to hit a number of chips or putts in a row (hopefully), just as you don’t get to smash 10 or 15 consecutive drives as you might on the range. Instead you have to be able to follow a chip or pitch with a putt, just as you have to follow a drive with an iron shot. It’s critical that you get used to this progression in practice, or you’ll have problems when you get out onto the course. To help yourself develop a more proficient short game, be sure to putt out every ball when you play the three-club game. Try to concentrate equally on both chips and putts, and if need be, put more emphasis on putting. If you fail to one-putt, however, don’t give yourself two or three more tries. Take your one-point penalty and move on. Remember, you want to simulate on-course play. 

Consistent, solid impact is as important for chip shots as it is for full iron shots.
If putting is the quickest way to lower your scores, then chipping is the best way to lower your number of putts per round. No matter how good a putter you are, the closer you get to the hole, the more likely you’ll be to sink putts. The first step to becoming a good chipper is simply to be able to make solid contact every single time you line up to the ball. If you tend to hit your chip shots fat and thin and off the toe and heel of the club, you’ll never be a consistent chipper of the golf ball.

To become a more proficient chipper, try choking down on the grip. This will help you gain more control of the clubhead. Place the ball slightly back in your stance to encourage a crisp, descending strike onto the ball. When you make your stroke, be sure to keep your right wrist bent through impact to further encourage a slightly downward angle of attack and a smooth, brushing motion of the clubhead. Practice these simple techniques, and you should see your results improve considerably.

To become a confident chipper, you must develop sound fundamentals and learn to make consistent contact.

Ball-first contact is key to crisp chips. To accomplish this, you must learn to lead the clubhead with your hands, as seen here. It should feel somewhat like a sweeping motion.When chipping, play the ball significantly farther back in your stance than you would for a putt, and don’t be afraid to set up with a good amount of forward shaft lean.

Golf Tips Senior Instruction Editor Chuck Winstead teaches at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La. 


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