Playing Chip Shots

The Importance of the BRUSH & LOOK When Playing Chip Shots

In my recent GSOM article “The 2 Vital Magic Tricks” discussing putting I explained that there are many varied styles that will “get the ball in the hole”. However, with the addition of the two disciplines (the 2 vital magic tricks) into your current method of preparing and playing a putt, you would improve your chances of reducing the number of putts you take in a round.

I would like to share with you now a discipline that I use on every chip shot that I play; from practicing my chipping right through to tournament play. I call it the “BRUSH & LOOK” and I would never dream of playing a chip until I had carried out a shot routine that had incorporated brushing & looking.

I believe that once you understand why the “BRUSH & LOOK” is so important in the lead up to a chip you will be able to play shots; with more commitment, enjoyment, flow and most importantly less thinking.

I hope that you will create a routine that works best for you that includes many of the ingredients explained below. Then you will improve this area of your game dramatically by being able to play the chip shot in a more trusting subconscious state. This will help you to avoid too much conscious thinking whilst playing and taking too much control in your downswing, which causes the duffs and thins that we all know can happen!


Once I have selected my club of choice for the shot I will stand a couple of paces behind the ball on an imaginary straight line back from my target that stretches through my ball to where I am standing, many people refer to this as the  Ball to Target Line. By standing here I am signalling to myself that everything I do from now onwards is contributing greatly to the quality of the shot in hand.

While standing on this imaginary line I start evaluating and visualizing the shot that I want to play. I will identify the direction the ball needs to be sent on, accounting for any undulations between my ball and the flag that I have identified. Then I focus on my landing area.

At this point I walk forward towards where I think I need to be landing my ball to get a feel for this location, and to commit to a specific place to attempt to land my ball. I do not want to place any pressure on myself by making my landing area too small. I normally visualize a small hula-hoop that if I were to land anywhere within it I would gain good accuracy and length to my chip.  However, if I did happen to land right in the middle of it, it could be the jackpot! (It staggers me how many people I coach on a daily basis do not even factor a landing area into their preparation for a chip. So if you are currently not doing this, I believe you should start now!)

I now walk back to the ball and now…. YES! You have probably guessed it; it is the time for the “BRUSH & LOOK”. I start doing some practice swings and if possible in the same lie conditions as where my ball is. This will help me to feel what the impact on the ground should be like on the actual shot.

I will make as realistic a practice swing as possible with a confident brush of the ground that feels so real that there could have almost been a ball struck. During these 2, 3 or 4 brushes I want to work out the required backswing length that will allow me to commit to my brush impact without over hitting the shot. Hopefully I can quickly build the feel that this realistic practice for playing chip shots will send my ball into the imaginary hula-hoop.

When I carry out a brush I want to notice that I see and feel the ground being impacted upon (Freddie Couples refers to this in his long game as “Looking for your divots”). This means I am training my eyes to wait and watch the all important impact take place.

Once I am sure that an imaginary ball would have been sent on its way to the target, I then turn my head to look and track the progress of the ball. (Don’t worry I haven’t gone mad, I am just trying to use my imagination to visualize where the chip is heading and then question myself. Did it land in the hula- hoop? Would it have then run up nicely to the hole?)

Playing chip shots with ease

There it is! The “BRUSH & LOOK” has now been carried out, so without further ado I shuffle in and get my club behind the ball and settle myself ready to play the real ball.

I’m sure that for some of you just reading this is enough to send you into panic mode, filling you with dread that you now need to have a go at the actual ball. There really is no need to worry because your practice brushes were so realistic that you have worked out the swing you need in a much more subconscious way. Your looking helped you visualize what the ball will do. You should now have a lot more trust, confidence and commitment to get in there and enjoy playing chip shots with a lot less thinking and a lot more feeling.

When I begin my shot I will have released the shackles of over thinking and be feeling more relaxed, which will help my grip pressure to be loose. I will be feeling less tense, since I am not stepping into the unknown. I have played this shot virtually already several times in my preparation; this will assist my breathing pattern to be more normal, as there is no need for anxiety. I definitely have a single thought to focus on, as I do believe I need something to consciously achieve in the shot. For example “look at the impact” would often be my focus and then trust to let the feel of the preparation take over and do the rest.

Many golfers of all levels simply do not realize the importance of “realistic” practice swings in preparing for short game shots. Often I see people doing practice swings for chipping that at best barely skim the grass and often are done through the air at a completely different swing length and pace to what they are about to attempt at the ball.

In effect you are playing chip shots without any real help or guidance, similar to going off on a mountain hike without checking the weather forecast, without adequate provisions and without a map!!

I really do hope that incorporating the “BRUSH & LOOK” into your chipping will have a positive effect on your golf. I would really appreciate feedback on your experiences trying this out. So please leave a comment below and I will reply to you. I look forward to writing more articles for GSOM in the near future.

Photo by Keith Allison

Get your FREE Mental Game Scorecard

Matthew Masters

has been a PGA professional for 20 years and is based at Porters Park Golf Club, Hertfordshire, England. As Hertfordshire Under 14′s County Squad Coach and a Lead Academy Coach responsible he is for the development of a program to create learning, improvement and enjoyment for 36 promising youngsters within the Herts Golf Partnership. He is a Certified Master Mind Factor Coach, a qualification he gained through his work with Europe’s Leading Mind Coach Karl Morris.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. blank
    Troy Vayanos

    Great article,

    Yes finding a landing spot and using it as a target for your chipping is vital to becoming a good chipper. This is something that I have worked a lot on in the last few months.


  2. blank
    Matthew Masters

    Thanks Troy, having a landing area breaks the shot down into 2 sections and I think it makes the shot feel more achieveable.

    Seve used to say, land the ball as close to you as possible and let the ball do te rest!

  3. blank
    Michael Hynes

    Matthew I love the realistic practice strokes and less thinking part to your theory.

    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      Thanks Mick! I hope you can get some good results with it on the course next time you play.

  4. blank
    Paul Stephenson

    Hi Matt.
    Thanks for this advice. I have been down to a very low handicap in the past and thought I was doing all the right things but still struggling to get the ball consistently near the hole. I have adopted your simple suggestion and have got a solid consistency back along with being able to get up and down more often. Cheers.

    1. Avatar photo
      Matthew Masters

      Good news Paul! Lets hope that handicap can get back down to being low again with improved preparation for chip shots.

      See “2 Vital Magic Tricks” article as it could help your putting.

  5. blank
    Jas Arora

    Hi Matt
    Very intersting and I like the idea of mini hoola loop and brush and feel.Yet again makes alot of sense.


    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      Im sure you will get the benefits of planning a landing area (hula hoop size) when you are chipping in your next game!

  6. blank
    Jas Arora

    Hi Matt
    Very intersting and I like the idea of mini HULA HOOP and brush and feel.Yet again makes alot of sense.


  7. blank
    Richard Cannon

    Matt, great tip yet again. Sometimes a few small thoughts can stop you having too many big ones! I can feel the extra strokes around the green coming off my next round!

    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      If the preparation is carried out in a better way it allows instinct to take over when you play the shot, which can reduce the tendancy for overthinking.

  8. blank
    Nigel Weekes

    That looks really interesting – particularly like the idea of the small hula hoop as the landing area.

    1. Avatar photo
      Matthew Masters

      Try it next time you play Nigel.

      Having the imaginary hula hoop as a landing area will help you in the planning of a chip shot.

  9. blank
    Nick Pateman

    Very effective and simple. Exactly what you need in a pre shot routine, vision and feel. Every golfer on tour with me applys these factors.
    Read, replicate then land your ball, cant do any more than that.
    Good advice Matt

    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      Thanks Nick. I hope you have a good Europro & Jamega Tour season using a good routine & keeping it simple.

  10. blank
    Thomas Jensen

    Hi Matt, again a great article. When setting words on the routine you perform, helps in fact me to remember the pre-shot drill and force me to slow down and go deep into the concentration zone before doing the actual stroke.

    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      Hi Thomas

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you can hit some nice chips through better preparation allowing you to commit freely to the shot.

  11. blank
    Ciaran O'Brien

    Hi Matt

    I have read your article and am looking foward to putting the “Brush and look” method into my game and to see the improvement in my game.
    I am going to make sure that I will visualise where I want the ball to land. And to bounce to ball in the imaginary hula-hoop. And to control how hard I want to hit the ball.

    1. blank
      Matthew Masters

      Thanks Ciaran

      Good luck with your chipping. Considering your landing area in the preparation breaks down the shot and can really help to make the shot more manageable.

  12. blank
    jack head

    Great article matt its made a differnce in my cipping around the greens

  13. blank
    Joey Charles

    Hi Matthew,
    This article has helped me a lot and my chipping has really improved. Your technique helps me visualise and simulate the upcoming shot so I can get an idea of what will happen when I play the shot. This technique has also improved my confidence when I am close to the green. When I stand behind the ball looking towards the Hole (Ball to Target Line) I can really understand the way that the ball will roll once it has landed.
    Thanks for the tip!
    Joey Charles.

  14. blank
    Matt Bennett

    Hi matt, if you are consistently brushing the grass with your practice swing does it mean that you are not going to thin it or leave it well short, or can it still be thinned ???

  15. blank
    Matthew Masters

    Hi Matt

    If you are getting a good contact on the grass and turf in your dress rehearsal/practice swings, then you just have to trust to take that feel to the ball.

    As to the distance of the shot that is down the length of backswing and the speed of impact.

    I hope this will be of some help to you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *