How to Chip in Golf and Put More Spin on Your Pitch Shots
By: Chuck Quinton, Master Instructor • FULL BIO •
HOW TO CHIP
Over the years, I've had countless people ask me how I put as much spin as I do on such short chip shots. Well, for the first time, you guys will get a peak at how to hit chip shots in golf very softly but with a lot of spin. Most golfers like to come down very steep on the ball which creates a very blunt and sharp blow.
The only problem with this is that a lot of speed is required to create spin and on a short shot, you'll simply hit it much too far. But by learning this technique, you'll be able to save par more often around the greens and maybe even amaze your friends in the process!
HOW TO CHIP - LOFT AND SPEED
The keys to putting spin on your chip and pitch shots are really quite simple. The first and foremost important variable is loft. The amount of loft you have at impact will determine the amount of spin you put on the ball more so than any other factor on a chip shot.
The second key is speed. On a normal full swing, speed is the primary determinant of spin, but on a chip there simply isn't enough speed for it to be more important than dynamic loft.
ANGLE OF ATTACK AND FAT CHIPS
The final thing is the angle of attack, or how sharply you come down on the ball in your chip shots. Understanding how these three factors work together is exactly what this video teaches.
Most people think that if they come down sharply on a chip shot that it will it impart a lot of spin. There are two major problems with this theory. The first is that for most golfers, coming down sharply typically leads to a chunked shot where they lay the sod over the ball.
Most amateurs are all too familiar with this dreaded shot like Hunter Mahan hit in the 2010 Ryder Cup. The wedge has a very sharp leading edge and is more than happy to dig a deep trench on even the shortest of shots. The second problem with this theory is that it reduces dynamic loft (the amount of loft the club effectively has at impact on a chip).
LEARNING HOW TO USE THE BOUNCE
As I mentioned earlier, the number one determinant of spin on a chip is how much loft you have at impact, so coming down steep is not ideal.
So, the only obvious solution is to approach the ball on a shallower angle of attack. This affords us our three most precious assets in chipping - plenty of loft at impact and the ability to use the bounce effectively of the club as it strikes the turf while applying more speed.
My secret chipping technique that is used by the pros allows the club to glide through the turf on even the tightest of lies while maintaining full loft and putting loads of spin on the ball. If you want to learn this simple techinique in this "how to chip" video, click the link above to watch the video (must be logged in)!
In the next part of this article, I'm going to show you a video clip that will demonstrate the MASSIVE difference in how the club works through the grass with the chipping stroke I teach vs. what you typically see taught in the golf magazines. So, continue reading....
HOW TO CHIP WITH MORE SPIN ON YOUR CHIPS & PITCHES
As I mentioned earlier, loft is your friend. Not just for more spin, but by setting up as I show in the video, you also get the benefit of more bounce. Having more bounce makes it so that the club won't dig coming into impact.
Instead, the club will glide through the turf and you will never worry about how to avoid a fat chip shot or pitch ever again. Take a look at this video clip below that shows you exactly how the club glides through the turf with my chipping method and how it digs with the way most golfers are taught how to chip.
WHY YOU HIT FAT CHIP SHOTS
In the video above, you can see that you come down very steep on the ball with the way instructors like Butch Harmon teach in this Golf Digest article. Playing the ball back in your stance dictates that you will have a steep angle of attack because of the forward shaft lean.
Most amateurs sense that they're coming into the chip shot too steep and try and "flip" the hands or "yip" at the golf ball to avoid hitting it fat. By making a simple setup change and practicing the drill I give you in this video, you will see how you can even chip off a cart path and not worry about a thing.
CHIPPING "SAUCE" - INCREASE SPIN BY 30%
As you saw in the clip above, when you play the ball back well in your stance, you're making your 60 degree lob wedge effectively a pitching wedge, loft-wise. Obviously, that will significantly reduce your potential for spin, but by how much?
By setting up the way you see in the golf magazines, you will take off around 10 degrees of loft at setup. That's the equivalent of going down about 2-3 clubs. By doing this, you will cut your spin down on a typical 8 yard pitch shot by some 700 rpm's, or around 30%.
As you can see above, the spin rate on an 8 yard pitch shot averaged around 3,000 rpm's with my RotarySwing Tour chipping technique. Now, let's compare that to the "old-school" way of chipping and look at the data.
By playing the ball way back in your stance and chopping down on it, not only are you more susceptible to hitting fat chips, but you're cutting your backspin down to only 2,300 rpm's. That's barely enough to keep a good drive in the air, much less stop a pitch shot around the green.
CHIP SHOT ANGLE OF ATTACK
The angle of attack is everything in chipping. That's exactly why changing your setup is so important if you're tired of knifing your chips and laying the sod over the ball.
As you can see in the image below, there is more than 13 degrees difference in the angle of attack between the two setups. The shot on the right still allows for you to use the bounce on your wedge to avoid digging while the shot on the left with ball setup back in the stance will clearly dig a trench.
ONE SIMPLE DRILL TO BOOST YOUR BACKSPIN ON CHIPS
This instructional video will teach you the technique I use with all my students, including those you've seen on the PGA Tour. No longer will you fear tight, bare lies or firm greens. Learn the secret of the tour pros and start how to spin the ball on your chip shots!
Checkpoints for Practice
- Short, delicate shots require a lot of spin, but can't be hit very hard
- Rather than hitting down steeply for spin, slip the blade underneath the ball so it rolls up the face
- Practice getting this feeling by taking some shots with the right hand only
- It's best to practice this on a tight surface, but it's hard on the green so choose your spot wisely!
- Allow the right wrist to work flat, adding loft to the club through the shot
- It's a very short stroke with no speed or compression, but it should generate a lot of spin
- Practice with both hands on the green, then move over to the fringe - the ball should come out very soft
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Video Transcription: Low Spinning Chip Shots
I don't believe there's a lot of secrets in the game of golf. In the short game, there are some where I hold a couple of secrets to myself, that I've figured out over the years that have helped me save a lot of strokes.
One of those is hitting these short little delicate shots where you can't put a lot of speed on the club and on the ball to generate spin, but still getting a lot of spin on the ball on these short, difficult shots.
That's something that I've taken time to develop in my own game, because you're always faced with those shots where you're just off the edge of the green and it's a steep downhill and you need a lot of spin but you can't swing really aggressively at it to get a lot of speed on the ball.
There's basically two ways that you can get spin. One is what you see a lot of times, guys on Tour, hitting down on it very steeply. The angle of attack causes the ball to spin, and that requires a little bit more aggressive blow, a steep, jabby attack, a steep angle of descent. That will put spin on the ball.
But of course if you're hitting a short little delicate shot, we can't do that because if we hit it too hard it's going to blow way by the hole. The trick was learning how to develop a shot that gave you a lot of spin, but not making a big swing.
What I did was figure out that basically the other way to put spin on the ball is if it simply rolls up the face. The more the ball rolls up the face, the more it has time to spin up the club face, and that produces more spin on the ball. It allows you to slip the blade under the face, is basically how I think of it.
Instead of coming down very steep and trying to pinch it, almost, I'm actually letting the blade slip underneath the ball. I'm almost filleting the ball. This gets speed, but it takes a lot of the blow out of the shot, so if I hit it on a steep angle of attack, I've delofted the club and I'm getting a smash. I'm really compressing the ball.
On these shots I actually don't want to compress the ball. I want the club to literally feel as if it's working under the ball this way, and that adds loft to the club and allows it to accelerate, which helps produce more spin while taking the brunt of the blow out.
One of the ways that - your greens keeper is going to hate you, so don't tell him I told you this or practice it on a good green. It will take a little bit to get the feel of it, but one of the simple ways of learning how to do this, and the best way to learn how to do it is actually on the putting green. If you've got a crappy old putting green somewhere you can practice this, it's great.
What you'll find is that when you're hitting these shots, if you just use your right hand only, at some point as you move through you can let this right wrist start to work flat again. You can see, as I'm doing that, as I come through, the club head has a lot of loft on it.
By doing that, I'm allowing that club to feel as if it's slipping under the ball, but it's also not taking a divot. That's why it's important. If you're doing this on a putting green, you don't want to take any grass out. You're just barely skimming the turf.
If you have a wedge with a lot of bounce on it, this shot is going to be a lot more difficult, but when we do it on the fringe in a minute you'll see that it's not quite as delicate.
When you're doing this, if you hit a couple of chip shots on the green you can find that ball had a lot of spin on it. I had a very short swing. There's no speed in there whatsoever, no blow, but the ball is wanting to check up very quickly by doing this. Just using my right hand, you can see the ball checks up, and it's just a five foot chip shot.
When you go to do this with two hands, the same feeling applies. We're trying to use a little bit more of that right hand in this shot. It's a specialty shot. We're trying to use a little bit more right hand to get it to slip under the ball, to take some of the brunt of the blow of impact off, because we don't want a good solid strike. We want to slip the blade under there.
We'll do the same thing as we go through but now, with both hands, we can put a lot more spin on the ball. Practice this, again, on the green; the reason for that is that we want to keep that angle of attack very shallow to get the blade slipping under. Doing it on a firm, tight surface teaches you how to do that, but it keeps you from making a nice big divot.
Now we'll look at some shots actually on the fringe, so we can see how it works with a less tight lie.
Now I've moved over to the edge of the green, or the fringe and I've got a longer shot. You won't be able to see the ball land, but I've got a shot here that is something where I would typically want to use this shot.
I'll hit it a little bit shorter so you can see it. Basically, now I'm going to lose a little bit of spin because of the fact that I'm on a little bit longer grass, but I'll still get plenty of spin. I'm going to practice the shot just doing the right handed drill that we started with on the practice green.
I'm just going to set up, take my right hand only, slip it under there and just hit a couple of little shots here to hit these delicate little spinners, these short spinners that aren't really going anywhere, just to get the ball to come up and land soft with a lot of spin.
I've done that a few times. Now I'm going to hit a little bit longer shot, but I'm going to bring both hands into play. You'll see the same little effect. It won't be quite as severe because the left hand won't let it break down quite as easily, but you'll still see a lot of spin on the ball, just like that.
This shot, again, both hands, lots of spin, short little blows and you can start to change it up. As you get better you can put a little bit more loft on the face, do the same thing. You can see the ball comes out very soft.
The trick - the reason why it's important to learn this on the putting green - is because you can slip the blade under there and not dig down. That's going to help you learn to use the bounce effectively on your wedge so that you get just a simple little glancing blow.
That allows you to swing aggressively to put spin on there and get the speed that we need, without launching the ball and careening it over the green.
Work on this on a tight surface. You can even work on it on the cart path if you don't like your wedges very much. Any tight surface, but a green is unfortunately the best way to learn it. Just use your right hand, just make little strokes. You don't have to make aggressive strokes on the green.
Just make little chipping strokes and you'll see the ball run up the face. It'll give you a lot of spin, and you'll be able to save par around the green on these tight shots a lot more often.