Symptom:  Inability to hit your chosen landing spot when chipping.  So you have too few up-and-downs, too many big numbers, and lose too much money on the golf course.

Description:  Use about five balls for the Backyard Chipping Drill, and find a grassy, open area for your practice.  Pick a spot to land your first chip, only a few feet away (a short chip is actually one of the toughest to execute) and hit the chip.  Next, try and land ball two on top of your first ball, which, of course, has rolled a few feet further away than your initial aiming point.  Then try to land ball three on top of ball two. And so on.  If all goes well, you will end up with five balls in a nice straight line.

Why it works:  Chipping is a two step process — picking a landing spot and executing the chip so that you land where you are aiming.  This drill teaches you how to hit the ball different, unpredictable distances and directions, much like you will need to do on the golf course.  This drill will help improve your feel for chipping.

Backyard Chipping Drill

Give yourself a good lie for each chip at first.  Once you are good at this drill, however, you should play every ball where it lies, even if (or especially if) it nestles down in the grass.  You will find that your lie has a huge influence over the type and strength of chip you need to hit in order to land on your chosen target.

With each successive chip, you will need to land the ball further and further away.  Fairly rapidly, you will begin to develop a “feel” for what sort of strike is necessary to carry the ball different distances.

Tiger Woods picks a spot to land his chip shot

Tiger Woods picks a spot to land his chip shot at the 16th hole on Augusta National.

Your scoring and confidence will improve dramatically with The Backyard Chipping Drill.  The ability to land the ball on your aiming point is a skill that will serve you well on every golf course, no matter how hard or easy, fast or slow. (Where to land the ball, by contrast, could vary greatly from course to course.  For example, a high-end course might have very fast greens, and so you would pick a different landing spot than you might at the local public course, for the same length of chip.)

Tiger Picks His Spot

Certainly, Tiger’s chip in at the 2005 Masters is an example of this.  He probably did not practice this particular shot, with the collar in back of his ball and the lightning-fast Augusta National greens to navigate.  But he picked out a landing point (noted by Vern Lundquist at 0:57 in the video) that made sense, and executed his chip by trying to land on his chosen spot.  Of course the rest is history — have a look:

The Backyard Chipping Drill is the most realistic golf practice most Occasional Golfers can get without heading off to the driving range!  A few minutes a day will bring rapid reduction in your handicap!

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