Perfect your chipping stroke

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Perfect your chipping stroke

When an elite golfer strikes a standard chip shot, they deliver the club to the ball with the shaft in a generally upright position; that is to say the hands are not excessively ahead of or behind the clubhead at impact.

There is a good reason for this. Shaft lean is directly linked to attack angle; we need the club travelling level to slightly downward for the optimal strike, one that makes use of the forgiveness properties of the sole, or bounce. This strike comes when the club is in its neutral, designed position. Deviate from this and you can start to expect problems with strike and ball control. Here's why... and what you can do about it.

Hands too far ahead: Use the victory grip  - Try a new hold to encourage the clubhead to release

Pincer Movement
This grip removes the 'pincer' effect of the trail hand thumb and index fingers. If those two digits grip too tightly – and this is one of the first responses shown by nervous chippers – they can prevent the club's shaft and head from releasing and cause that handle-led, downward attack.

Freer Release
Strike several shots with this new grip, feeling how much more readily the clubhead releases down and through with the momentum of the swing. Once you feel the strike quality improve, go back to your regular grip, but repeat the same, free release with that trail hand.

Stubbed Out
This is a very common club-golfer chipping impact – ball back, hands well forward and massive forward lean in the clubshaft. This position creates an excessively downward attack angle that drives the sharp, leading edge down into the turf. Unless your timing is spot-on you will stub the shot... and even if it is, the ball comes out low and hot.

Split Fingers
To break this habit, try a new grip. Keep your lead hand the same but form a victory sign with your trail hand to spread index and middle fingers. Let the club's handle sit between them.

Hands too far behind: Let your Lead Hand dominate - Avoid a scooping release by chipping one-handed

Better Delivery
As before, hit some chips without thinking any special technical thoughts. With its tendency to drag the handle forward, the lead hand redresses any tendency for the clubhead to overtake the hands. You'll start to deliver the club with the shaft in that more suitable, upright position.

Supporting Role
Again, once you find yourself able to strike chips cleanly with your lead hand only, add the lower hand and form your regular grip. But allow your gloved hand to maintain its control of the motion, the lower hand only supporting the club. In time, as this becomes more comfortable, feel your hands making a more even contribution.

Rise and Fall
The opposite of the first impact, this common position crops up when we try to assist the ball's upward launch. Sensing an opportunity to get "under" the ball, the trail, lower hand takes over, flipping the clubhead forwards. This leads to an excessively upward attack angle, the club usually catching the turf early or its leading edge blading the ball.

Get the Upper Hand
To thwart this damaging delivery pattern, remove your trail hand completely from the club and grip with your gloved hand only. Position the ball centrally in your stance, and feel the handle is only marginally ahead of the ball.