Table of Contents
How long has Matt Fitzpatrick been chipping cross handed?
According to his caddy Billy Foster, Matt Fitzpatrick started chipping cross-handed during tournaments midways through 2021. However, it’s important to understand that he had been practicing this technique for years before he put it into play during tournaments.
For many golfers, chipping cross handed is actually a very useful short game drill. It levels out your shoulders, shallows your angle of attack, and eliminates excess hand movement during your chipping stroke.
When doing cross handed chipping drills, the intention is to transfer the thoughts and feelings to your standard chipping stroke over time. However, in the case of Matt Fitzpatrick, he effectively became more confident chipping cross handed than he is chipping with a traditional grip.
Has changing to left hand low chipping actually improved Fitzpatrick's short game?
According to Fitzpatrack, he has seen a dramatic improvement in his short game stats since making the switch to cross handed chipping.
“It’s worked really well for me. My chipping stats are 100 percent better from this year compared to last. It’s a good start.”
While there is no doubt that this chipping technique is working for Fitzpatrick, it’s worth taking a look at his short game stats in greater depth. To this end, strokes gained around the green is probably the best statistic to make this comparison.
Matthew Fitzpatrick - Strokes Gained Around The Green - PGA Tour
When you look at Fitzpatrick’s chipping stats around the green, it’s pretty clear that chipping cross handed has actually made a huge difference to his scoring average. During the first 3 years on the PGA Tour, Fitzpatrick ranked 43, 138 and 97 in strokes gained around the green. In his first season chipping cross handed, Fitzpatrick jumped all the way up to No. 7, picking up almost half a stroke (0.452) per round.
This is a night and day upgrade to his short game abilities. Switching to cross handed chipping has made Fitzpatrick a better golfer.
In addition, Fitzpatrick also increased his driving distance dramatically between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which also helps explain his asencion into the top 10 in the world golf rankings for the first time after winning the US Open in 2022.
How far does Matt Fitzpatrick chip the ball cross handed?
According to Fitzpatrick, he chooses to chip cross handed from about 30 yards and in. Most golfers will find this is a good distance guideline to work with. From 30 yards and in, you should be able to hit the ball the intended distance, without having to force the issue.
Once you enter 40 or even 50 yard territory, you need to employ an abbreviated golf swing. This is problematic, because half swings, 3/4 swings and full swings generally feel quite awkward and clumsy cross handed.
Conversely, short chips and pitches can feel quite magical once you become comfortable with the sensation of left hand low chipping. Everything feels super compact, solid and stable.
What are the keys to chipping cross handed?
1. Start off using it as a chipping drill
First and foremost, chipping cross-handed is something you can use as a reliable drill for improving your standard chipping technique. This is how Fitzpatrick started as well.
He didn’t just suddenly rock up to the US Open with a bright idea. He had been using cross handed chipping drills for years before he decided to make the switch. Eventually, it became clear that the ‘drill’ produced better results than his standard chipping technique. Only then did he start using it on the course.
2. Use your shoulders to guide the stroke
One of the best attributes of left hand low chipping is that it makes it very easy to employ a shoulder and torso dominant stroke. Instead of being ‘handsy’ or ‘armsy’ it’s really easy to turn back and through with your shoulders and torso.
3. Keep your hands nice and quiet
When you chip cross handed, you effectively unlock two key benefits in terms of hand movement:
A) You don’t have to release your right hand
With a standard chipping stroke, you do have to release the right hand through impact in most cases.
When using a cross handed grip, the right hand is always behind the left, during the backswing and the follow through.
This is beneficial, because an overactive right hand can be the downfall of many amateur golfers. The left hand low grip nullifies this problem.
B) The Stroke becomes far less wristy
Phil Mickleson’s chipping style is the perfect example of a super wristy technique, with a full-blown release in almost all scenarios. This can work well if you are super talented golfer with outrageously good handeye co-ordination.
However, if you are closer to the mediocre line that you might like to admit, an aggressive wristy stroke can wreak havoc on your game. Unless you make absolutely perfect contact, distance control becomes a gamble, not to mention the increased likelihood of hitting fat shots and thin shots.
With a cross handed grip, you can greatly reduce the amount wrist release you need to employ when hitting the ball. Instead, you can take advtantage of a shoulder-driven stroke with very quiet hands that even the great Steve Stricker would be proud of. For many amateurs, this can translate to a more repeatable chipping technique with a much greater margin of error.
Biggest Issues with Cross Handed Chipping
There are three red flags that you need to be aware of when trying this chipping technique.
1. It’s awkward for long-distance chips and pitches
Fitzpatrick is quick to mention that his range for cross handed chips is about 30 yards. This is where ‘strokes gained around the greens’ comes into play, and it’s clear that Fitzpatrick’s stats in this category have improved dramatically since making the switch.
The point is, this technique is not well suited to golf shots that require a little bit of clubhead speed to execute.
It’s a slow and controlled chipping technique that can improve your ability to make good contact with the ball and judge distance easily.
2. It’s easy to hit the ball thin at first
With a conventional chipping grip, most golfers can get away with a little of right hand release. However, when chipping left hand low, an overactive right hand can be detrimental to the shot.
When your right-hand takes over, it’s very easy to send the leading edge into the ball, causing it to scurry far beyond the hole, and often into trouble. During your first few practice sessions, you may have to fight your natural tendency to let the right hand take over during the stroke.
Thankfully, this tendency can be ironed out after a few weeks of dedicated practice.
3. It’s not great for flop shots or bunkers
Off tight lies and out of the rough, chipping cross handed can be a great option for many golfers. However, the moment you are faced with a flop shot or bunker shot, it’s best to employ a conventional grip when holding the club.
With bunker shots and flop shots, you need to generate a bit of clubhead speed, and you need to fully release the clubhead with a relatively steep angle of attack. The left hand low technique isn’t well suited to either of these requirements.
Should you start chipping left hand low?
Chipping left hand low is definitely worth trying as a drill at your local short game facility. It doesn’t cost anything and it will only take one or two sessions to sense whether or not it has the potential to improve your short game.
Even if you never decide to actually use this technique on the course, just using it as a drill can help you understand how to use your shoulders and torso during a chipping stroke.
If, like Fitzpatrick, you find your contact and distance control when chipping cross handed are actually better than when chipping with a standard grip, just treat it as a green flag to give it a go on the course. You might not win a US Open, but your strokes gained around the green could improve dramatically, resulting in a lower average score, a lower handicap, and a more pleasant time on the golf course.
Long story short, there’s absolutely no reason not to try it.