Chipping Tips: Proper Hand and Ball Positioning

By Nick Anson
May 7, 2015

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Chipping tips seem to be endless these days.  The problem for most amateurs is probably that there are too MANY tips out there, and the information bogs down any sort of progress.  The difference between a good and bad chip shot is determined by two main factors: hand positioning and ball positioning.  Simply putting the ball in one spot or the hands in another tells you nothing though, if you don’t understand cause and effect.  Here are three videos that will explain proper hand positioning, proper ball positioning, and finally the cause and effect of each.

Hand Positioning

One of the most common mistakes when chipping is hand positioning.  Golfers often will move their hands forward when chipping, which ends up taking loft off the club.  Todd Kolb shows us how to get our hands in the right position, and explains why we might as well be using a mid-iron if our hands are too far forward when chipping.

I’m PGA Teaching Professional Todd Kolb with USGolfTV, and on this segment on On the Lesson Tee we’re talking about proper ball position for chipping.  The first and the most common mistakes that most golfers make when it comes to chipping is they get their hands too far in front of the ball.  Somebody, somewhere along the line in their life—or in a magazine or some other video—has told them to get your hands way in front of the ball when you chip; and that just simply does not work and here’s why.

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Having the hands too far forward de-lofts the club, and causes amateurs to often hit down too much on the ball, resulting in a chunked shot

When you move your hands way in front of the golf ball, what happens is you de-loft the golf club; you take all of the loft off it.  You’re trying to hit a high soft shot with a club that came with 60 degrees of loft, and because you’ve moved your hands so far in front, now you might as well be chipping with a six iron or a seven iron.  And this leads to all types or varieties of disasters when it comes to being around the green.

So the first tip—and the most important tip—is make sure when you’re set up, that your hands are equal or slightly in front of the ball.  If you do that, you’re going to keep the loft on the golf club, and you’re going to see the ball pop up nice and soft.

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Ball Positioning

Hitting a chip shot with the ball too far back in the stance is a common fault, because it takes loft off the club.  Weekend golfers often stab down at the ball when it’s too far back, leading to chunked shots and inconsistency.  PGA Professional Todd Kolb is back to show us better ball positioning to help control the bottom of the swing and reduce chunk shots.

I’m PGA Teaching Professional Todd Kolb with USGolfTV, and in this segment of On the Lesson Tee we’re talking about proper ball positioning in chipping, and once again they’ve been given some bad information.  They’ve been told to play the ball pay back in the stance.  So for a right-handed golfer, they move the ball way back towards their right foot.  Now what happens with that is that it causes them to hit down on the ball, which has some advantages to it; but typically—once again—it de-lofts the golf club.

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Moving the ball too far back in the stance takes loft from the club face

One of the worst things you can do when it comes to chipping is to de-loft the golf club.  So when you move the ball too far back and you leave your hands forward, the club has less loft on it; therefore the ball comes out lower.  The club hits the ground; it kind of digs or grabs; we can chunk it, we can skull it; you can hit all types of shots.  So the proper ball position is—I believe—to have the ball in the center of the stance.   I like the ball in the center of the stance, with my weight slightly forward.  If I can do that, I can control the bottom of the swing, I can control where the club comes in contact with the ground, and I can get the ball to pop up nice and high; and I can also have the wedge go through the turf nice and soft.

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Neutral ball position: helps control bottom of swing, helping to avoid chunked shots

Cause and Effect

Having the ball positioned back in your stance can be beneficial in chipping if you understand cause and effect.  For most amateurs, a more neutral ball position may be ideal.  However, ball and hand position might need to be adjusted based whether or not you need to get some air under the ball with less roll, or if you need it to bump and run onto the green.  Here we see how hitting the same shot with different techniques nets differing ball paths.

I’m PGA Professional Todd Kolb, with another segment of On the Lesson Tee.  One of the most common questions that our students bring to the lesson tee in regards to chipping is where should they position the ball to hit shots around the green?  What I want to talk about here today is helping you understand what I call cause and effect.

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Positioning the ball back or neutral can be beneficial – if you know cause and effect for each shot

Now the most common position that people are told to hit chip shots from is with the ball towards the back foot—or for me, would be my right foot.  They’re also told that the hands should be well in front of the golf ball.  Now let me say this:  this is not a bad spot or a wrong spot, but you need to understand the cause and effect.  And from this position—with the ball back, and the hands in front—the ball’s going to come out lower and it’s going to roll more, because you’ve de-lofted the golf club.  And if that’s a shot you want to hit, then that’s the proper setup.

However, if you want to hit the ball a little higher and softer, you need to adjust your setup.  And in order to do that, I want to see the ball positioned in the center of the stance, and I want the handle—or what we might call the butt end of the club—to be equal with the ball.  This keeps loft on the face, and is going to allow the ball to come out a little bit higher and softer.

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So chipping is all about cause and effect, and getting the golf ball to do what you want it to do.  If you want to hit it low, and you want it to roll, move it towards the back foot and move your hands in front.  If you want to hit the ball a little higher and a little softer, move it more in the center; make sure the handle is equal with the ball.  You’ll have more loft on the club, and once again, the ball will come out a little bit higher and softer.  These are great ways to hit a variety of shots around the green, and hopefully this will help your chipping.

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