The Correct Golf Club Choice Will Help You Get Closer To The Hole 1

The best way to get the golf ball close to the hole when chipping is to use the correct amount of loft on the golf club, minimizing effort and power, therefore maximizing control and accuracy.

Key points to choose the correct club when chipping:

  • Use the club with the least amount of loft where possible as this will mean you have to use the least amount of power and club head speed to reach the preferred distance you require. This also reduces the chances of a disastrous shot as the ball will not be travelling as fast if the golf ball is hit incorrectly.
  • What does the ball need to get over? If the answer is nothing, then your choice of limited loft becomes very easy as the shot does not require elevation, so if you cannot putt the golf ball on to the green use a golf club that has very little loft but will still be used to chip with. A club with the loft of a seven or eight iron would be perfect for this type of job. If you do have to get over some obstacles such as slopes, bunkers, rough, trees, or water, the club choice becomes easier as we can no longer play the low lofted golf shot. We have to play a shot with elevation to make sure we manage to loft the golf ball over any unwanted obstacles.
  • How much green do you have to work with? Is the pin at the front or the back? This calculation becomes very important in the decisions we make when playing the shot. Can we afford to allow the golf ball to roll on the green to a flag at the back or do we have to land the golf ball short of the green and make the golf ball stop quickly for a pin that is at the front of the green?
  • We can start thinking about the best possible landing spots on the green to make sure we get close enough when we come to execute the golf shot.

Top tip - Pick a landing spot as close to the edge of the green as possible making sure we can get the ball rolling as soon as possible for the rest of the way along the floor. This way the ball can travel smoother and more consistently rather than bouncing all around the green uncontrollably.

Read the green to maximize the chance of getting the golf ball to finish as close to the flag as possible. Read the green as if you were reading the breaks on the green when putting. This way you can learn how the ball will react once it starts rolling and take into consideration any slopes or undulations on the putting surface.

Chipping: Correct Golf Club Choice Will Help You Get Closer to the Hole

Chipping: Correct Golf Club Choice Will Help You Get Closer to the Hole

One of the biggest challenges when chipping is simply the number of decisions you need to make in a short period of time. You might not always notice it, but there are an incredible number of options at your disposal each time you prepare to hit a chip shot. Are you going to hit the ball high or low? What is the lie going to do to the shot? How firm are the greens? Is the ball going to spin enough to provide stopping power? The list goes on and on. Many experienced golfers are able to answer these questions without really stopping to think about them – they just become second nature at some point. However, for the new golfer, the many factors to consider prior to a chip shot can be overwhelming.

Of course, the list in the previous paragraph failed to mention one of the most important decisions you need to make when getting ready to chip – which club are you going to use? For most chip shots, there are at least two or three options that could produce a quality result. In some cases – such as when your ball is resting just off the edge of the green – you could literally use any club in your bag to play the shot successfully. With so many options to pick from, it is important to have a plan in place as to how you will pick the right club for each chip shot you encounter.

In this article, we are going to take a close look at the topic of club selection when chipping. It should be noted right from the start that this is a subject which is going to go in a different direction for different players. Some golfers develop a preference for using the same club on almost every chip shot, while other players like to let the situation dictate which club they will use. The great thing about golf is this – both of those plans can be successful. It is your job to figure out which approach to chipping is going to work for you, and then stick with that approach round after round.

Although this article is going to center on club selection, it would be a big mistake to overlook the importance of technique when chipping. If you don't have proper technique on your side, the club you use isn't going to make much difference. You need to be able to put the club cleanly on the back of the ball when you chip, and you need to be able to control your distance reliably. Both of those skills are going to be developed through the use of good technique. Take some time to build a solid fundamental base in your chipping game and then move on to working on things like club selection and other important details.

All of the content 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.

Some Basic Concepts

Some Basic Concepts

You need to have a framework in mind that you can use to guide your thinking when trying to pick the right club for a given chip shot. If you just walk up to the ball without any ideas in your mind, you could wind up staring toward the target, not knowing what to do next. The points in this section are going to lay the groundwork on which you can build your club selection process. As mentioned above, different golfers will have different opinions on which club is right for a given shot, and that is okay. As long as you are thinking your decision through and taking the right variables into consideration, you should land on a choice that will serve you well.

The basic concepts to keep in mind when picking a chipping club are as follows.

  • Get the ball on the ground. One of the first things you want to think about is getting the ball back on the ground as soon as possible. Generally speaking, chip shots which are played along the ground rather than in the air are going to be more consistent and easier to execute. Of course, you can't always hit a low bump-and-run shot toward the target, so you'll need to adapt your approach to each unique shot you encounter. For every shot, there is a point where you will be able to get the ball back on the ground safely. Sometimes, that means only hitting the ball a foot or so in the air before it lands and rolls the rest of the way. Other times, you will need to carry the ball the majority of the distance to the target. Whatever the case, one of your first tasks when evaluating a chip shot is to find the spot where you can bring the ball back down to the ground without running into trouble.
  • Respect the lie. For every shot you hit on the golf course – chip shot or otherwise – you need to respect the lie of the ball in the grass (or sand). The lie dictates everything about what you are going to be able to do with a given shot. Have a good lie on the fairway grass around the green? Perfect – you can hit just about any shot you would like to attempt. Ball sitting down in the long rough? You will be severely limited in your options, as it will be hard to control the speed of the shot and the ball will not have much (if any) backspin. Never try to fight the lie in terms of making the shot do something that it does not want to do. Evaluate the lie at the start of the process and then pick both a club and a type of shot that are going to suit the lie you have been given.
  • Don't take unnecessary risks. This is a critical piece of the decision-making puzzle, yet it is one which is almost always overlooked by amateur golfers. On the surface, chip shots usually don't look very intimidating. After all, you are close to the green and probably don't have to worry about hitting the shot into a hazard or out of bounds. However, chip shots are more dangerous than they appear. For example, picture a tricky downhill chip shot coming from the long rough. To get the ball close to the hole, you need to land the shot just barely onto the green so it has room to slow down before getting to the cup. In an effort to hit a perfect shot, you aim for a spot that is barely onto the green – and you come up just a foot short. Instead of setting up a putt for par, you are now chipping again, and from an even more difficult position. With nearly no chance to hit the next one close, you are staring a double bogey right in the eyes. Just like that, you could waste two strokes on a hole where it didn't seem like you were in very much trouble. This is what can happen when you take too much risk when chipping. The right play would have been to aim for a spot which was much further onto the green. Sure, that might mean setting up a longer putt for par, but that's okay. You could take your chance at the par putt, and settle for a bogey if it misses. This kind of patient approach will pay off in a big way over the long run. Be smart when planning your chip shots, both from a club and target selection standpoint, and avoid making costly mistakes.

Simply abiding by the three points listed above is going to get you off to a great start in your chipping game. Always respect the lie of the ball, avoid taking unnecessary risks, and seek to get the ball back on the ground as soon as you can. It should be easy to keep those points in mind as you play, and your game will be better for the perspective you have gained.

Three Main Options

Three Main Options

As mentioned earlier, it is technically possible to hit a chip shot with any club in your bag – yes, even the driver. If your ball was just a few inches off the side of the green, you could use your driver to bump the ball onto the putting surface before letting it run the rest of the way. We aren't saying that would be the best option for such a shot, but it can work. In fact, that method has been used by players on the professional tours from time to time.

However, despite the fact that you can technically chip with any club, we are going to focus on discussion in this section on three main chipping options – the pitching wedge, the sand wedge, and the lob wedge. For most players, these three clubs are going to hit the vast majority of your chip shots. You might go down to something like a seven – or eight-iron from time to time in order to play a bump-and-run, but most modern courses aren't designed for those kinds of shots. If you can just learn to chip correctly with your pitching wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge, you will be well on your way to a great short game.

Let's take a moment to look at the kind of performance you can expect from each option.

  • Pitching wedge. This will be the club of choice when you want to keep the ball close to the ground and let it run most of the way to the hole. Even if you hit a chip shot with this club from a clean lie, you shouldn't expect to produce much in the way of backspin. Rather, the ball is going to bounce and roll predictably, and most of the distance of the shot will be covered by the roll out phase. In many ways, you can think of this as the standard chipping club. When you don't need to do anything special or tricky with the shot, you can use your pitching wedge to knock the ball up onto the green and let it run toward the hole. Chipping with your pitching wedge is easier to master than chipping with your lob wedge or even your sand wedge. If you're just getting started in golf, or you have always struggled badly with your short game, start by learning how to chip properly with your pitching wedge and go from there.
  • Sand wedge. When you need to put a little more air between the ball and the ground, turning to your sand wedge is a smart move. The sand wedge is going to allow you to put some spin on the ball, and the added loft of the shot will help the ball stop quicker as well. Despite its name, you will probably find that you use this club more frequently from the grass than you do from a bunker. When you need to split a chip shot fairly evenly – about half of the distance covered in the air, and half on the ground – the sand wedge will likely make for a solid choice. By going up in loft from a pitching wedge to a sand wedge, you are going to place more pressure on your technique to make solid contact. Miss-hitting a sand wedge chip shot is going to be costlier than if you made a similar mistake with a pitching wedge.
  • Lob wedge. To get the ball high in the air and stop it quickly, the lob wedge is going to be the right tool for the job. Many golfers carry a lob wedge which has 60* of loft, but clubs that have 58* of loft can fit into this category as well. As you might imagine – or maybe you know from first-hand experience – a lob wedge can be a difficult club to use on a chip shot. You have to strike the ball perfectly in order to send it the right distance with the right amount of spin. Making even a small mistake on this type of shot can lead to serious trouble. Therefore, you should only use your lob wedge when it is required to play the shot at hand. Defaulting to an easier option like a pitching wedge or sand wedge is the right way to go for most players. With that said, you will run into shots that demand the use of your lob wedge, so it is important to know how to use this club when that need arises.

As you practice your chipping, be sure to spend time with each of these three important clubs. It is easy to fall into a pattern of just practicing your chipping with your favorite wedge, but that is a method that will leave you one-dimensional and exposed out on the course when you have to hit a shot that you haven't worked on in practice. Value the importance of each of these three clubs enough to practice with them and your short game will improve dramatically.