The Short Game Advice You’re Getting Wrong

Good Advice Gone Wrong

Every magazine, golf pro, and TV show will tell you that you need to get your hands in front of the ball when you chip.  Unfortunately, that advice is misunderstood by many golfers.  In this lesson, I will give you the complete picture of what your hands should do on a chip shot.

This Lesson Is For You If

You struggle with chipping

You are trying to get your hands in front but having poor results

Thinking Literally and in 2D

Having your hands in front of the ball at impact can be good advice, but the problem is that this is only shown from a face on perspective.  As a result, golfers don’t know how close their hands should be to their body.

This is what I see lots of students doing.  They hear “hands in front of the ball,” and they literally put their hands in front of the ball on the target line.

If we zoom in on the clubhead, you can see the problems that this creates: the hosel gets closer to the ball, the heel is off the ground which can cause the toe to dig, and the club face is pointed right of the target.  All this leads to poor contact, possible shanks, bad turf interaction, and terrible results.

Think In 3D

What you want to do is have your hands move to the left, or closer to your body, through impact.

As you can see, this keeps the sole of the club on the ground, keeps the hosel away from the ball, and keeps the club face pointed to the target.

A Simple Drill

Here’s an easy drill that will help you work on this.  Get a couple of alignment sticks and a pool noodle.  Put the sticks through the noodle on either end, and put the sticks in the ground so that the noodle is at hand height.  Set up so that your hands are just inside the noodle.  The goal is to hit your chip shot without running your hands into the noodle.  If you hit the noodle, you’ll know that your hands went where they don’t belong.

Try this drill out.  I think it will help your chipping which will bring down your scores.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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  1. Matt,

    Great article! The need to think in 3D is missing in a lot of golf instruction. Thank you for the drill too.

  2. Nice article Matt. I have a decent short game. But I notice when I practice bump and run or chip I have grass stain on the middle to the toe of my 50% gap wedge.
    Do I need to open the club, or use a nine or a eight.
    Thanks, rob.

    • Matt Saternus


      If you’re only marking the sole of the middle and toe of the club, your problem may be exactly what I’ve referenced in this article.
      If you were referring to striking the ball on the middle and toe, I would work on trying to hit a few off the heel. Working on opposites has a great effect for fixing flaws.



  3. Tom Duckworth

    I want to try this drill with my granddaughter. Could you give me a few more details? The camera angle makes the pool noodle look halfway up your forearm. Is it at that point or right on the wrist line and is it about a four foot pool noodle? Thanks

    • Matt Saternus


      Yes, it is a four foot noodle.
      There’s no perfect way to set up the drill. My preference is to have the noodle just above the butt of the grip.



  4. Now I once read an article that suggested to lift the club and use the toe for chip & run shots…but…it may have been when using a wood or hybrid and I simply extended the advice to irons as well… What do reckon? Yesterday nearly all my chips went 40 degrees to right of where I was aiming at.

    • Matt Saternus


      If you’re using the “lift the heel” method and your shots are running off to the right, well, that’s exactly what I said would happen in the article. :)

      I can’t think of any reason why you’d want to lift the heel. It messes with your club face alignment and doesn’t allow the sole to perform as designed.



      • Hi Matt, appreciate your reply. And the article: after posting my question I went for 9 holes and used your advice. Played loads better mainly because of the improved short game! For year and a half was using the “lift the heel” method (with finger along the shaft like putting grip – a sign of lacking convidence)) to little effect but much frustration. Not saying I am Phil Mickelson now but saw a marked improvement. Thanks for pointing out something that had crept in my game!

  5. Love this site. #SecretGiveaway

  6. Jim Dolliver

    Great Advise #SecretGiveaway

  7. Todd Williams

    I like it #SecretGiveaway

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