Chipping with Direction and Distance

One of the first things I might ask a student is: What are the two things a golfer is attempting to do with every shot? Often times I’m met with blank stares and the inevitable: “Get the ball in the hole”! While that may be the final objective, there are two elements which need to be addressed to eventually achieve that goal. Specifically these are direction and distance. A golfer must aim their shot and then move the ball a particular number of yards, feet or inches. Think of this as having a catch with someone. You are throwing a ball in the direction of your partner and at the same time gauging a feel for the distance they are standing away from you. Notice when you’re having this catch that the ball can be thrown directly to your partner or maybe a little left or right of them. The ball can also fall short or go longer than the intended throw. Today we are discussing how distance and direction affect chip shots although the same holds true for any golf shot.

Two major components of any successful chip shot are direction and distance, as you need to anticipate not only where the ball will land after flight but also how much the ball will continue to roll once it makes contact with the ground.

The sequence below shows a basic chip shot. Before I take this shot, I do the following:

  1. Aim my shot. This includes: Reading the green for any slope that will influence the direction the ball will roll. Picking a target where I’d like the ball to land. Setting up with the clubface pointed at my intended target
  2. Make some practice swings. These swings are not for practicing the technique of the chipping swing but rather to get a feel for the size swing needed to have the ball go a particular distance.

Below are three drills I use with my students which focus on distance and direction:

For the first activity, you’ll need three pool noodles. Place each noodle parallel to one another and make sure that there is an equal distance between the center noodle and the noodles above & below it. Your goal is to navigate the golf ball between these different spaces. Are you able to alter your shot so that the ball lands between two different noodles? What if you change the distance between the noodles? Play around and challenge yourself!

The next drill involves two concentric circles made of string, one that is three feet in diameter and another that is six feet in diameter. Similar to the noodle exercise, the goal is to play around with your chip shot so that it finishes in the different circles.

The final activity is a golf version of 21. In this activity, I set up four strings: two green on the top & bottom and two pink in the center. Because the distance between the pink strings is smaller, you receive 5 points when the ball lands in this space. When the ball lands between a pink and green string, you receive 3 points. Played as a team, each person gets three shots and the first team to earn 21 points wins. If you only have a couple players or want to make it more challenging for yourself, you can also play the game as individuals. How many shots will it take you to get to 21?

To see the above drills in action and more, visit my YouTube channel

Next week, we’re taking the high road and going fast with speed-building exercises to keep us on our toes.

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Fit for Golf-Set for Life


Dunwoodie Golf Course
1 Wasylenko Ln
Yonkers, NY 10701