Learn the 6-8-10 Method to Improve Your Results on Chip Shots

Golfer Martin O'Connor plays a chip shot during the Golfplan Insurance PGA Pro-Captain Challenge in Spain
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Shots around the green are all about control: Knowing how much of a backswing to take, combined with which club to use, in order to produce the best possible combination of flight (ball in the air) and roll (ball on the ground).

Pitch shots produce a lot of air time and little roll. Chip shots, on the other hand, are used when a golfer wants to fly the ball as little as possible and roll the ball as much as possible.

One way to achieve the proper combination of swing length and golf club used for chipping is to learn what's called "the 6-8-10 formula," or "6-8-10 method."

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Applying the 6-8-10 Formula for Chipping

6-8-10 Chipping Method by Mel Sole
About.com Golf

Since our goal in chipping is to roll the ball along the ground as much as possible, it is important to understand the air-time/ground-time ratios of chip shots hit with different clubs. The selection of the correct club is vital. You can chip with anything from a 3-iron to a sand wedge depending on the situation, but you must know the following formulas (also illustrated in the accompanying chart) to decide which club is required:

  • When you chip with a pitching wedge, the ball will fly half the distance to the hole and roll half the distance.
  • When you chip with an 8-iron the ball will fly one-third of the distance to the hole and roll two-thirds.
  • When you chip with a 6-iron the ball will fly one-fourth of the distance and roll three-fourths.

(By the way, we call this this 6-8-10 Formula because the formula involves the 6-iron, 8-iron and pitching wedge, and the pitching can technically be called a 10-iron.)

These formulas are based on a normal-paced, level green (a situation we don't often find on the course), so if you are going uphill you would need to go up one club, and downhill requires going down one club. If the green is fast, you again will need to go down one club and if the green is slow you will go up one club. I know this may sound confusing at first, but once you understand the basic formula, it really is just common sense.

When possible, if the length of the shot and position of the cup allows it, always try to land the ball about three feet onto the putting surface and let the ball roll the rest of the way.

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Taking Your Address for Chip Shots

address position on chip shots

In the address position for chip shots, the weight is on the front foot, with the ball position in the middle of the feet. The hands are then slightly ahead of the ball. This is the appropriate address position for chipping the ball onto the green.

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Keep a Solid Left Wrist through Chipping Motion

keep solid left wrist through chipping motion

The most important aspect of chipping (besides choosing the right club) is to make sure that the left wrist (or right wrist for left-handed golfers) does not break down during the chipping motion. The moment the wrist breaks down two things happen:

  1. The loft on the club changes, therefore changing the trajectory, which in turn affects the roll of the ball. Inconsistent distances will result.
  2. The arm breaks down as well, causing bladed shots that go screaming across the green.

To ensure that neither of these things happen, work on keeping your arm straight and your wrist firm during the shot. If you find this difficult to achieve, then try this trick in practice: Take a thick rubber band and place it around your wrist. Slide the butt end of the club under the elastic band, keeping the butt end of the club close to the wrist. This will give you the correct feel when chipping the ball.

If you wish to lower your handicap, skip a few sessions on the driving range, and head for the chipping green instead. You'll love the results to your game — and your opponents won't!