How mastering this 1 shot can improve the rest of your game too

Nelly Korda of the United States chips to the first green during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 19, 2023 in Naples, Florida.

Nelly Korda hits a chip shot at the 2023 CME Group Tour Championship.

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If you’re looking to improve your game, more often that not, the best way to go about it is to start from the hole and work backward as opposed to starting from the tee.

In other words, you can make faster gains by honing in on your short shots rather than your longer clubs. And while focusing on your short game is always time well spent, there is one particular shot that can really pay dividends.

At GOLF’s recent Top 100 Teacher Retreat in Scottsdale, Ariz., I asked longtime Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs to name one essential shot that every golfer should learn how to hit. Riggs selected a simple pitch, and said it was because it can be valuable to your game in several ways.

“Mastering a simple little chip or pitch off the edge of the green is really important,” he said. “Not only is it useful throughout a round, but it also has some translation to bigger pitches and intermediate wedges, and it even has a bleed into putting as well.

“Learning how to measure how much body, hands and arms you’re using all the time on shots is really important,” he continued. “Putting, we don’t want to use any body for the most part. Full swing, we want to use everything we’ve got. Chipping and pitching is right in the middle of that somewhere.”

Getting a handle on that in-between motion is key, says Riggs.

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“Tempo really matters on that shot,” he says. “You don’t want to be really big on the backswing and stopping, and you also don’t want to be short and trying to accelerate a lot through impact either. Managing the bottom of the arc is really important, too. I think the chip or pitch has a lot of elements to it that every part of the game has. It’s an important piece for people to learn, especially off of tight lies.”

Once you nail the simple chip, you can create a solid foundation for the rest of your game. To work on your chip and pitch technique, Riggs says the most important thing to consider is how your club brushes the grass.

“Getting the feel of the grass and the club is really, really important,” he says. “Ask yourself: What does it feel like to have the clubs scraping the tops of the blades of the grass? What’s the sensation with the arms and the club as you’re doing that? Once you’ve identified that, go after that feel through impact. It’s that sense of not digging too much versus picking the ball off the top, whatever that is for people.”

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According to Riggs, the actual motion isn’t too prescriptive and can vary by player, because some players are more handsy than others.

“I don’t necessarily think the technique is all that important, because there’s a lot of variations on it,” Riggs says. “But you better be able to get that club to scrape.”

For more game-improvement tips from Brady Riggs, click here. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on

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