Should You Use Your Wrists For Chip Shots?
Should You Use Your Wrists For Chip Shots?
The short answer is yes and no. For some chips you should use your wrists and others you shouldn’t. When your ball lies around the green, there’s a variety of ways to get the ball on the green and close to the hole. Sometimes, it seems like there are too many options. For many, confusion arises when you don’t know whether you should use your wrists or not. I’d like to clarify this so you can simplify your chipping. For most chip shots, I’d recommend trying to keep your wrists passive and I’ll explain why.
In my opinion, there are three families of shots you can hit around the green: low, medium, and high. Within each family, there are a variety of techniques that can be used. My basic philosophy to the short game is this: putt when you can, chip it like a putt when you can’t putt, and only hit it high when you have to. Thinking this way and using it on the course will simplify your short game and reduce your errors.
I just mentioned there are three types of shots around the green: low, medium, and high. You might only need the high shot 5% of the time so I’m not going to cover it today as it’s risky to hit and it doesn’t come about very often. So, we’re going to cover the low and medium-height chip shots. Simply, for the low chips you will not use your wrists. For the medium chips, very little wrist action is used. Remember, the higher/farther you hit the ball, the bigger the swing will be. Bigger swing equals more room for error. Whenever possible, keep it simple with small swing around the greens.
The Low Chip Shot
The low chip shot, a.k.a. the bump-and-run, is generally used when your ball is within 15 feet of the green. To keep it very simple, I like to think of this shot as a putt with loft. The main difference is with the setup, but the stroke used is very similar. After setting up with the ball back in your stance, weight slightly forward and the shaft leaning forward to the target, the motion used is nearly identical to a putting stroke. That being the case, the wrists are not used for this shot as it’s mostly a rocking of the shoulders.
The Medium (Standard) Chip Shot
When your ball is further off the green, you’ll need more height so your ball will land softer on the green. For these shots, you’ll be taking the club further back to fly the ball a longer distance so you will use a little wrist action.
For this shot, you’ll set up similar to a pitch shot with the ball approximately in the middle of your stance, weight about 50/50, and your hands slightly ahead or even with the ball. On your backswing, your goal is to the get the clubface up to about waist high feeling like your lead arm and club maintain a straight line. Your wrists may hinge a little, but try not to get overly wristy for this shot. On your downswing, the goal is keep the lead arm and club in a straight line finishing lower than waist high (finishing too high usually is the result of a scooping motion).
Wrists Equal Power
It’s important to note the wrists are a source of power, only use them when you have to around the greens. If you hinge your wrists, which is great for lots of shots, you must unhinge them. This unhinging creates power. Creating power around the greens can lead to exploding shots over the green and last-second decelerations. This is why I don’t recommend using your wrists much around the greens.
To summarize, keep is simple around the greens. Hit it low when you can and only high when you have to. Keeping the wrists relatively quiet allows for a simpler more repeatable motion for chip shots. If you’re looking for someone on Tour to emulate for these shots, watch Steve Stricker. His chipping and pitching motion is very simple, but extremely effective. He’s consistently one of the best in the game with a wedge in his hand.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
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