Understanding the Chili Dip Shot In Golf

Golfer hits the ground and digs up a lot of turf for a chili dip
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

"Chili dip" is a slang term in golf that refers to a type of mis-hit chip shot. When a golfer chili-dips his chip, it means that the golf club struck the ground behind the ball, digging up turf and resulting in little or no contact with the ball itself. The result of a chili dip is a golf ball that doesn't go very far - possibly moving only a few feet or barely at all - and comes up well short of the target.

A badly chili-dipped chip is one of the most embarrassing shots in golf if you dig up a lot of turf and don't even make contact with the ball!

The 'Chili Dip' Goes By Many Names

A "chili dip" is one of those shots in golf that has many different names. Chili dip is another term for a fat shot, another way of saying the golfer hit it heavy. A "chunk" and a "chili dip" are the same thing. (Although note that these other terms are often applied to any shots, while "chili dip" is almost always used to describe a chip shot around the green.)

Chili dips can also be called duffs or duffed shots. If a golfer chili dips a chip and digs up a huge divot in the process, he "laid the sod over it." A golfer who does that often is "always laying the sod over it." (Your playing partners are sure to laugh uproariously in the unfortunate event your chili dip results in the ball not moving and literally getting covered by the sod you dug up.)

One fun alternate slang term for a chili dip is "Hormel" - "I Hormelled it" (Hormel is a brand of canned chili).

What Causes a Chili Dip?

Hitting behind the ball - your wedge making contact with the ground before the ball - results in the chili dip. How far behind the ball, and how much your wedge digs into the turf, determines just how bad (and embarrassing) your chili-dipped chip attempt is.

Another way of putting it: The golfer's swing is bottoming out before the clubhead reaches the golf ball. Golf irons, even wedges, are designed to strike the golf ball on the way down - to make contact with the ball before contacting the turf, in other words. "Hit down to make the ball go up" is an old golf maxim when it comes to iron play. 

And a swing bottoming out before the club reaches the ball? That's typically caused by the golfer shifting backward during the swing, putting weight on her rear foot, and/or trying to scoop or lift the ball, rather than making a good, crisp swing. It can also be caused prior to the swing by a poor setup position: Setting up for the chip leaning back; setting up with your head already behind the ball.

Fixing Chili Dipped Wedge Shots

So the antidote to chili dipping is making sure you don't shift backward during the swing: prevent your weight from shifting to your rear foot, keep the bottom of your swing on the ball rather than behind it.

Consider hitting down on the ball with chip shots, and how important it is to accelerate through the swing - and how shortening your backswing can help on chips.

Want a drill to work on fixing those chili-dipped chip shots? In his book Golf For Dummies (buy it on Amazon), pro golfer, announcer, and instructor Gary McCord recommends this:

  • Stick an old golf shaft or an alignment stick into the ground.
  • Place your golf ball next to it.
  • Set up for the chip shot with your nose in front of (to the left of, for right-handed golfers) the stick. This puts the bottom of your swing in the right place - on the ball, not behind it.
  • Now, hit the chip shot while keeping your head forward - don't lean back, don't shift back.

Remember to accelerate through the ball and no scooping!