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Short Game Tips: Chipping Can Be as Easy as B-L-T

All golfers are looking to improve their scores when they play golf, but many people spend too much time hitting balls at the driving range, reading books to help their swings, buying countless swing aids, etc. when it is a well known fact that the easiest way to shave strokes off your score is to strengthen your short game. The short game in golf refers to anything inside of 80 yards to the green. This includes short wedge shots, pitching, chipping, bunker play, and putting.

Chipping (image (c) Flickr user suendercafe)

Chipping (image © Flickr user suendercafe)

Chipping is probably one of the most important elements of golf and is also one of the most overlooked parts. A chip shot is a shot that is taken from rough, fairway, or fringe around the green in which you want the ball to pop up into the air and then roll the majority of the way to the hole—hopefully close enough for you to make the next shot.

A chip shot can be taken with almost any club in the bag. Clubs that can be used for a chip shot range from a hybrid to a 60-degree wedge. The amount of green you have to work with and how much rough, fairway, or fringe you have to carry will directly dictate which club you use for a chip shot. If your ball is sitting on the fringe, for example, and you have a lot of green to work with, you can chip with a 7 iron, which will fly in the air just a little and roll the majority of the way. On the other hand, if you are in the rough and have only about 15 feet of green to work with, a wedge would be a proper choice. Always remember to assess the shot you have before selecting a club to chip with.

Image of a BLT

Remember “BLT” to set up properly for chipping. (image © Flickr user jeffreyw)

Thinking about a simple acronym, BLT, can help most people improve their chipping strokes.  BLT does not stand for Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato (although these sandwiches are quite tasty!).

B – Ball in the (B)ack of the stance: After figuring out your aiming point, gather your stance over the ball and make sure that the golf ball is placed off of the back foot. Placing the ball off of your back foot will ensure that the club takes a downward path approaching the ball at impact.

L – (L)ean forward to your front foot (left foot for right-handed players, right foot for left-handed players).  After positioning the ball off the back foot, position 90 percent of your weight on the foot closest to the target and leave it there (no weight shift during a chip shot).  Putting your weight on your forward foot creates a stable position over the ball that will allow you to stay consistent through the shot.

T – Tilt the shaft toward your target:  Tilt the shaft toward the target to take some of the loft off of the face of the club; this will allow you to hit the ball in the air for a short period of time before the ball will roll out the rest of the way.

Once you have achieved your BLT setup, you are ready to hit the chip shot.  A chip shot motion is closest to that of a putt (no wrist break, and back swing distance = follow-through distance).  Remember:  If you are about to chip the ball to the target, your next shot needs to be a putt.

For more golf tips, or to set up a lesson with me or another Garden of the Gods Club golf professional, please contact our Golf Shop at 719.636.2520.  Have a great season!

Assistant Golf Professional

Note:  A version of this article was originally posted on the website of SportzSkillz, where Alex also works, and it has been edited and reprinted here with permission.

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