More Tips To Fix Chunky Chips

Thu, 11/29/2012 - 12:24 -- Don Trahan

A couple weeks ago I shot a video on how you can avoid chunking wedges. I gave some reasons why it could be happening and some cures to fix it. But, I focused primarily on alignment and ball position. Today, I'm going to address another issue that causes people to hit behind the ball when they chip and pitch. 

Jeff Sverd sent in a question about chunking chips and pitches because he's having a tendency to dig into the ground behind the ball and is hitting it forward just a couple of inches. My first thought is usually based on poor alignment and ball position, but I think Jeff might have a different issue that I see from a lot of other golfers as well.

Dear Surge,
I must be getting better because I'm getting the hang of what you're saying and midway thru I was asking myself - "but what about the Nicklaus head shift to the right?" - you answered it, thanks. What about chunking the chip or pitch or when it seems that I dig into the ground and send the ball 2 inches?
Much appreciation,
Jeff Sverd

This is typically a case of two major issues. Again, we're talking about alignment and ball position. Now, it may sound redundant, but you've got to remember that 90-95% of all swing faults arise out of poor alignment. But, let's say your alignment and ball position are fine. What else could be causing chunky chips and pitches?

No matter where your ball position is, it's possible that you might have your hands too far ahead. I'm talking about a forward press. A lot of people do this with pitches and chips, but more often with pitches. They do this because they want to hit it lower and let in run out a little more. But, what they don't realize is that the top of the spine is the fulcrum that everything must be in line with at impact in order to make solid contact. So if you walk in and then press your hands forward, you will most likely chunk the ball everytime because when the hands return to the bottom of the arc, which is at the top of the sternum, the club hits the ground behind the ball.
If you want that much forward press, you've got to move yourself forward until the top thumb (left thumb for a right handed golfer) is directly underneath the top of the sternum. When you do that, your hands will return back perfectly everytime. I can even put the ball behind my feet doing this! All I have to do is walk in to the ball and get the shaft lean that I have envisioned for the shot. Next, I will just keep adjusting my setup until that top thumb is underneath my sternum. 
The point here is that when you're chipping and pitching you have to have the top thumb knuckle direcly underneath the top of your spine so that you are in the right position to make solid impact. You'll hit it perfectly with small divots everytime. Nip that grass!
Work on this aspect as well as your alignment and ball position and you should have no problem hitting great chips and pitches in no time.
Keep it vertical!
The Surge
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Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

Thanks, Surge! This is especially important this time of year for those of us who play in places with predominantly Bermuda grass. When it goes dormant, like now, it can really grab a club and magnify even a tiny error in positioning into a major chunk. I'm sure we've all had a few of those. The need to clip the ball first is paramount.

jon.lucenius's picture

Submitted by jon.lucenius on

Thanks Doc - these recent tips have really hit the sweet spot. I don't always have time to watch the video, so I really appreciate the detailed narrative.

One thing I have been doing for chip shots is bending way down (accordian-like) and choking down on the club. It looks rather silly but my chipping has been . Still need to keep the alignment mentioned above and then execute!

Down the middle,
Jon's picture

Submitted by h4dfey@internet... on

I have been practicing your method for three years. Recently I came back from Florida to cold Illinois after a golf trip. I stopped by a PPGS approved club fitter where I had a set of Wishon's made for me. I had my clubs checked to see if any adjustments might need to be made to stop on and off toe hits and/or slices. After checking, the fitter said the lies were OK so he offered to check my swing with his high speed camera that he uses in club fitting. replaying the swing in slow motion along with the fantastic software revealed that I had a great PPGS setup with wide knees, turn toe line, 3/4 back swing. My body and head stayed still. On the slight bump downswing to the forward upswing the camera showed that just before ball contact I was pulling my head up and back a couple inches. The movement ranged from slight on short irons increasingly to the driver. He suggested that may be the cause of some toe and/or slicing shots. I reviewed your manual, video's and daily blogs about this subject and did not find anything. Is this something that needs to be fixed or is this part of the transition from BUS to FUS? If this needs to be corrected, how would this be done without me constantly going to my fitter for videoing? I appreciate any help that keep the ball in the fairway. Hank

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Some head movement is inevitable for most of us, even pros. Surge even speaks of his head doing a "dipsy dootle", kind of a back down the up simi circle during the swing. He has also stated that the head will actually move slightly back during the bump as we experience the secondary spine tilt. Of course this is a small minor movement. Surge has done multiple videos and daily on supposed head movement and how it is fairly much impossible to move the head on it;'s own. He further states that it is really a result of body movement like a spine angle change or lifting/standing up too soon before we hit the ball. It could also be evidence that your upper body is moving first rather than the lower body in the kinetic sequence. I will leave you some of those lessons for your viewing. Please continue to use the search box located on the upper right of this page (see tiny magnifying glass) to look for more on this and all other subjects. You may want to send this question into customer service for a specific answer and coverage by Surge.

Wow, there is actually tons of information covering parts or all of your question in the archives. What I've left you here is just a small sample of our vast free library. Hope this helps.'s picture

Submitted by h4dfey@internet... on

Thank you for the video links. Hank

RichF's picture

Submitted by RichF on

I really like Don's suggestion about making sure to keep the top thumb under the sternum - I will definitely examine that marker next time out. Maybe it will allow me to return to chipping sanity.
Currently (age 57), I live in the dreaded domain of a much more debilitating golfing mental disease - the "chip yips". It's not for lack of knowing good technique; when I was younger, I LOVED to chip because in my mind I was imagining every chip having a chance to go in - what fun - or at least it would leave me in "gimme range". But, 3 or 4 years ago, I began to have the same wicked involuntary twitches while chipping that had begun to plague my putting.
The putting yips were somewhat fixed ("fixed" means getting back to being merely below-average as a putter for my single-digit handicap) by various techniques that separated or changed the hand position. I have finally landed on cross-handed (left-hand low as a right-handed putter) as a reliable way to make a putting stroke without a pronounced flinch.
The "chip yips" have been MUCH more challenging to confront. Many good instructionals talk about "chipping like you putt", and it got me wondering if I could cure my "chip yips" by chipping cross-handed, like I putt now. I know, it sound AWFUL. But, I have to say, cross-handed chipping has mostly eliminated the crushingly bad efforts that either send the ball screaming across the green or leave the ball one foot from where it started. It deadens the hand action, which is what eliminates the flinch. For certain, I do not chip really well cross-handed. But at least I have enough of a mustard seed of faith that I will make some sort of reasonable contact and have the ball on the green putting for par.
It takes time to get remotely "used to" the cross-handed chipping feel, and it is really challenging when I am, say, 40 yards off the green and want to make a low, running approach. But sometimes I surprise myself. A few weeks ago, I was in Bermuda rough, down the hill on the other side of the cart path, chipping up over a bunker to a back pin position I could not see. I hit a clean chip cross-handed and ran up the hill in time to see it land, check, and release perfectly and roll gently up to and into the hole.
If your mental anguish is bad enough, maybe it's worth a try.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

When I am playing with higher handicap players that seem to have a lot of trouble with the short game they have the usual variety of "problems" with their techniques but the one thing that almost all of them have in common is almost a total lack of decent tempo on short shots. Half the time their back swing is faster than their forward swing, and that throws them totally out of sync between the upper and lower body.

Very easy to lose tempo and get down to about a one to one with a very short swing. When that happens it's easy to get out of sync and takes much more athletic ability to be consistent.'s picture

Submitted by on

Great video to remember where to keep the thumb. KISS

Rong's picture

Submitted by Rong on

Another great tip. Hopefully it will do wonders for my chunky chips