Many golfers use their putting grip and stroke on basic chips shots with a wedge or short iron.
This technique works well for around-the-green shots with a hybrid club, too.
The biggest benefits of this method are 1. Consistency, and 2. Limiting wrist action, which can cause a hybrid to “go off in your hands,” sending the ball skittering far past the cup. Chipping with a hybrid is also a great option for bump-and-run type shots that must roll up a slope or over a long stretch of fairway/fringe before reaching the green.
Adapting your putting stroke to a hybrid is easy, requiring only a few minor adjustments:
- Use your putting grip, whether it's reverse-overlap, your standard golf grip or otherwise.
- Choke down at least a couple of inches for control and to stay close to the ball; most hybrids are 3-6 inches longer than a putter.
- Make your normal putting stroke, focusing on sweeping the ball. Hitting it with a downward blow can cause the ball to come off “hot” and race too far. Also, it's best to err on the “thin” side as the ball will still roll well if you catch it low on the clubface.
While it's easy to make solid contact when chipping with a hybrid, you'll need some practice to get a feel for how the ball reacts off the clubface and rolling across the surface. Once you're comfortable with it, the hybrid can become a major weapon in your short-game arsenal.
Use Putting Stroke to Chip with a Hybrid
Creativity is one of the most useful traits you can have on the golf course. While many golfers think they can build their games from top to bottom on the driving range, there is more to playing good golf than just executing mechanics over and over again. If you want to play at a high level, you will need to be creative on the course in order to get yourself out of certain situations successfully. It isn't always the player with the prettiest swing that comes out on top – often, it is the player who is able to think 'outside the box' that will wind up posting the lowest score.
In the content below, we are going to cover one of the creative types of shots that you can use to get your ball around the course in as few strokes as possible. This shot – a chip shot played with a hybrid club – has become more and more popular as more players turn to hybrid clubs rather than long irons. The characteristics that hybrid clubs bring to the table make it possible to play a wide variety of shots, including chips from around the green. You already know how important it is to have a solid short game, and adding this shot to your repertoire will only give you a better chance to get up and in on a regular basis.
Of course, chipping with your hybrid isn't something that you are going to do on a regular basis. For most chip shots, you are going to need to reach for one of your wedges in order to loft the ball over the longer grass and onto the putting surface. In fact, it is very possible that you could go several rounds in a row without ever having the opportunity to use this type of shot. However, it is still important for you to take the time to learn how to chip the ball onto the green using a hybrid club, as this is a shot that can get you out of a tough spot from time to time. Even though it will never be a frequently used part of your short game arsenal, the hybrid chip remains a shot that is well worth your time and attention.
One of the key elements to having a good short game is shot selection, something that will become more and more important as you add shots to your game. Naturally, if you only know how to hit one kind of chip shot, shot selection is irrelevant – you just hit your shot and move on. However, when you add new pieces to your game such as the hybrid chip, you quickly have to learn how to deploy those shots effectively. Using the right shot at the right time is almost as important as the ability to execute those shots.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
A Variety of Opportunities
Continuing on with the topic of shot selection, we will kick off our discussion of the hybrid chip shot by looking at some of the various scenarios in which this shot could be useful. One of the nice things about learning how to chip with your hybrid is the fact that you can use the shot in a few different spots around the course. It still isn't going to be the chip shot you use most frequently, but knowing when it can be pulled out of the bag is a big advantage. Once you learn the technique required for this shot (which is still to come), you can consider using it in the circumstances below.
- Chipping from the fringe. This is likely the most-common place to use a hybrid chip shot. If your ball comes to rest on the fringe of the green, but you don't want to use your putter for the shot, using a hybrid is a great pick. Since you should have a good lie on the short fringe cut, it will be easy to pick the ball right off the top of the turf while swinging your hybrid through impact. Many golfers have a fear of hitting the ball fat when chipping off the fringe with a wedge, so choosing this shot takes that concern out of play.
- Ball resting against the edge of the rough. Technically, this is another situation where your ball is sitting on the fringe of the green. However, in this case, your ball is up against the edge of the rough, giving you a poor lie to deal with while hitting the shot. The rough behind your ball is going to make it difficult to achieve solid contact with a wedge – hitting this shot thin is a common mistake if you stick with a wedge and a traditional chip shot. To avoid that outcome, try using your hybrid to intentionally hit the shot thin. You can swing the hybrid through like a putter and use its size to help you slide through the rough cleanly. This type of shot likely is not going to get airborne at all, but it should scoot along the ground and head toward the hole. You will never have as much control over this kind of shot as you do over a chip shot with a clean lie, but reaching for the hybrid is likely your best option.
- Bump and run from the fairway. When playing golf on a firm course, you may be able to occasionally use this hybrid chip shot as a way to run the ball up onto the green from 20 or 30 yards away – as long as you have fairway length grass between you and the target. If your approach shot comes up short, for instance, and you have a clean look at the hole with no rough (or hazards) in your way, feel free to chip the ball with your hybrid and watch it run up near the cup. It is extremely easy to make clean contact with this shot, which will be a relief for some golfers who fear these kinds of mid-length pitch shots.
- Long, uphill chip from a good lie. If you have drawn a good lie around the green but you face a long chip shot going up a slope, the hybrid club might be your best bet. It can be difficult for the average golfer to hit the ball hard enough to chip to a back hole location on a sloped green, so using the power offered by the hybrid makes a lot of sense. You won't have to make a big, nerve wracking swing to hit the ball hard enough, and you will pretty much be taking the 'big miss' out of play.
As you can see, there are plenty of different situations which could potentially arise during a round of golf which would cause you to pull out your hybrid for a chip and run style shot. Of course, in addition to the list above, there are certainly plenty of other circumstances that you may decide are a good fit for this shot. If you are willing to keep an open mind and keep all of your options open, you never know when you might find a chance to put this shot to good use.
Hitting the Shot
When you are ready to head out to your local golf course for some practice to work on the hybrid chip shot, you will find that there is some good news – this is an extremely simple shot to learn. Unlike some of the other shots you may attempt to add to your arsenal, there is nothing complicated at all about chipping with your hybrid club. Once you understand the basic idea behind this shot, you can be up and running after just a few tries. Of course, it will take more than a few repetitions to learn how to control this shot consistently, but you can start to see good results with only a little bit of focused practice.
The step by step process below outlines how you are going to go about playing a hybrid chip. You can make slight adjustments to this process as necessary to suit your own personal style or preference, but you probably shouldn't deviate too far from this general outline.
- When you decide that you are going to use your hybrid club to hit a chip shot, take your club from the bag and step up to the ball. Of course, you will need to have picked out a line for the shot, so make sure that task is done before you walk up and address the ball.
- Start your setup by aligning the club head with the target line you have picked out for the shot. This process is no different than it is when you are chipping with one of your wedges. Accuracy is the name of the game in golf, so be as careful as you can to align the face of the club perfectly with your intended line.
- Once the club face is lined up with the target line, you then need to take your stance and settle on the grip that you are going to use for the shot. Your stance should be relatively 'casual', with your feet only a short distance apart. Remember, the hybrid club in your hands is longer than your putter, so you will want to stand taller than you do when putting. However, you are going to use your putting grip, so that part of the shot will be the same. Use whatever grip you like to use while putting to hold onto your hybrid club for this chip shot. By keeping the grip the same between putting and this shot, you will make it easier to imitate your putting motion the rest of the way.
- With your grip taken and your stance all set, you are ready to hit the shot. As you should have guessed by this point, you are going to swing the club in exactly the same manner that you do when holding your putter. In other words, you are going to use a rocking motion in your shoulders to hit the shot while your hands remain quiet and out of the equation.
- Swing the hybrid club back and through as if it were a putter, making sure to keep the club head moving through impact. Just as with any other shot, you don't want to get tentative at impact or you will risk coming up well short of the target.
That's it – it is just that simple to hit a chip shot with your hybrid club using a putting stroke. Now that you have a good idea of how this shot is played, spend some time at your local course working on your ability to execute the shot properly. Even though it is a simple shot, it will still take some practice to make this a comfortable part of your game.
Controlling Your Speed
By far, the biggest challenge that you will face when playing a hybrid chip shot is controlling the distance of the shot. It is going to be rather easy to get the ball on line, and you should have no trouble at all hitting the shot solidly thanks to the size of the hybrid club head and the shape of your swing. However, controlling speed is the one part of the shot that is going to be a challenge, so be ready to put in some practice time to dial up the speed just right.
At first, you are likely to feel like the ball is travelling surprisingly far considering you aren't making much of a swing. This is a matter of feel, and it is only going to get better with time. To this point, you are only used to using your putting stroke with your putter, which is going to hit the ball a shorter distance with the same swing as compared to a hybrid. Since your hybrid club has plenty of club head mass and a relatively 'hot' face, the ball is going to take off much quicker than it does from the putter. This isn't necessarily a problem so much as it is something that you need to get used to. Once you put in some practice time to learn how to manage the distance of your hybrid chip shot, you should be able to gain control over your speed.
The best way to practice this part of your hybrid chip shots is to pick out a variety of targets on the practice green and move back and forth between them as you go. Many golfers fall into the trap of hitting practice shots to the same hole time after time, but that kind of practice is limited in its benefit. Since you will learn how hard to swing after just one or two shots, the rest of the shots you hit will be awfully easy. If you change up the distance you need to use on every shot, however, the practice will be challenging and you will improve much faster.
As a practice routine that you can use to dial in your speed, try picking out three target holes on the practice green that are available for you to use. Ideally, one hole will be relatively close to you, one will be 'medium' distance, and one will be all the way across the green. With a bunch of practice balls down on the ground to use, rotate through these holes one by one while chipping with your hybrid. Start with the close hole and do your best to chip it inside of a few feet. Then, move on to the medium hole and do the same. Continue to work through these three different distances as you proceed with the rest of your practice session. Avoid hitting the same shot twice in a row.
If you plan on using this shot on a somewhat regular basis it is important to include it in your warmup process prior to starting a round. Since the green speeds and course conditions that you encounter are going to vary from day to day, you need to try out this shot before the round to get a good idea for how it will roll out. You don't need to hit a lot of hybrid chips in order to prepare for the day – in fact, just two or three should give you all of the information you need. The whole point of warming up prior to a round is to get yourself ready to handle anything that comes your way, and that could include the need to hit a hybrid chip. Take a moment to make sure you know what kind of speed you will be facing with these shots if you use them during the round and one more piece of your preparation will be in place.
Knock It In
Getting up and down from around the green is a great thing for your scorecard, but what if you could do one better from time to time? With the hybrid chip, it is certainly possible to chip in on occasion, especially if you draw a good lie and a direct path to the cup. You are never going to chip in with the majority of your shots in this (or any) situation, but you certainly can have an eye toward knocking it in when the time is right.
So when should you shift your attention from getting up and down to simply chipping in? First, you need to look for a situation that will make it easy to control your speed. That means that you should be chipping across flat ground, or perhaps slightly uphill. If you are chipping downhill, you will need to make sure the shot doesn't get away from you and run out too far past, so you probably shouldn't focus on chipping in when playing down a slope. Also, you want to look for a chip that is not going to have a severe break in either direction. When the green is relatively flat around the hole and you don't have too far to travel, you can think about making the shot and saving yourself a stroke.
If you are going to try to chip in, you should always take the flag out of the hole. The flag is only going to hurt you if you are able to hit the shot the right speed, so take it out and make sure it doesn't play goalie against your shot that would have otherwise fallen in. Of course, if you are chipping downhill and you are worried that the ball will be moving quickly around the hole, it is perfectly fine to leave the pin in the hole as a bit of insurance. Review each situation individually when deciding whether to leave the pin in or take it out – if you are sure you can control the speed of the shot, you should take it out. Otherwise, leave it in place.
One other point that relates to trying to chip the ball in is the fact that you need to have a great read before you hit the shot. Just like when you are putting, you need to take the time to read the slope of the green carefully so you can pick out an appropriate target line. The ball is going to be rolling most of the way to the hole, so the slope of the ground will have a major impact on the path that it takes. Get the read right, and then make a great stroke with your hybrid, and the ball just may fall in.
The hybrid chip shot is easy to learn, reliable under pressure, and useful in a number of situations. Use the information included above to master this basic technique, and then look for places to use it during your upcoming rounds. Good luck!