If you pay attention to the way you play, no matter how good you are, you’re aware that the place where your score gets leaky is around the green.
I often say, and I’m not backing away from it here, that good scores are only made possible by good play up to the green. But once you get to the green, you have to put it away. Too often that takes one stroke too many.
The reason is chipping requires the precision of an approach putt, because, after all, that’s what the shot represents if you missed the green.
Let me give you a few suggestions to guide your chipping practice. With less work than you think you can get really good at this shot.
First, get a lesson on how to chip. While it’s an easy shot, there is a right way to do it that you will likely never figure out by yourself.
Now designate three clubs to chip with. I would suggest a pitching wedge, an 8-iron, and a 6-iron. Go the the practice green and pick a spot. Drop three balls and chip from that one spot to the same pin, with each club.
Repeat this from a variety of places around the green, different spots to different pins, to find out which club you like for which chips.
For a month, do no short game practice except this. It will be scary how good you get.
Next, it’s one thing to be good at the “up,” but you have to be good at the “down,” too, or you might as well have left your chip ten feet from the hole.
How do you practice that? Well, all those practice chips you made? Don’t pick up the balls. Leave them where they ended up and putt each one out. Every time. Three chips, three putts. Learn to deal with the putts your chipping leaves you.
This is how I got real good at chipping. I got fed up with leaving myself with putts too far from the hole. Made me get very serious about getting those chips close. Now, even three-footers I don’t like.
In other words, don’t practice chipping only. Practice getting up and down. Keep score, too. Getting down to an average of 2.1 (up and down nine out of ten times) is realistic for anybody.
I still practice like this. It’s the only way.
Don’t neglect your putter, either. If you have a lie on good grass and there isn’t too much of it between your ball and the green, just putt. But practice that, too.