One of the more common flaws I see in chipping is poor weight management. Often, I see my students try to chip by emulating miniature full swings, where they shift their weight to their right side on the backswing and then over to their left on the forwardswing. Now that may be the kind of weight management you want with a full swing, but with chipping, the more stable you are at setup, impact and the finish, the more likely you’re going to make crisp, consistent contact with the golf ball.
If you artifically shift your weight back, you’ll hit the obstacle placed behind the golf ball.
To improve your chipping weight management, I recommend you keep your weight at what I call “60/40” during your chipping stroke. This means keeping 60% of your weight on your left side and 40% on your right side from start to finish. To maximize the potential of the 60/40 swing, start with the proper setup. Play the ball in the middle to middle-back of your stance, with the hands slightly in front of the golf ball. Naturally, the 60/40 swing will be a little steeper than normal, which in the case of chipping is a good thing. If you try and keep the club low to the ground, you’ll likely get caught up in the grass and hit a lot of fat and/or skulled chips. We don’t want that! Just remember, 60/40 doesn’t exactly mean placing a big majority of your weight on your left side. It just means a slight favoring of the left side. In the photos, it still looks like my weight is fairly evenly balanced, doesn’t it? If you overdo it and place too much weight on your left side, you’ll get too steep and/or you’ll inadvertently shift to your right side, again, causing all sorts of problems with consistent contact.
A great drill to practice the 60/40 swing is to take a 2×4, headcover or even a book and place it just outside your right foot in the back of your stance. Hit a few chips, and be sure you don’t hit the wood on the backswing or on the downswing. Having that obstacle not only will steepen your swing a bit, but it will force you to keep your 60/40 weight scheme throughout the stroke.
The key for better chipping is to minimize excessive weight shifting and swinging a little steeper than you’re used to. Do that, and you’ll start dialing in better chips in no time.
Frank O’Connell, PGA, teaches at Paradise Valley Golf Course in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Get more information at paradisevalleygc.com.