The majority of players, when faced with a chip of 20 yards or less from the hole, grab the most lofted club in the bag and swing away. For those of you that practice this shot a great deal, this is not a bad idea. My daughter played NCAA Division I golf and used this shot exclusively. It helped that she spent many hours practicing.
But if you don’t spend 20 hours a week on practice, and if your normal shot from this point flies over the green like a scalded cat, you may want to try something else.
The first thing I do is assess the shot and the total distance. Let’s say it is 20 yards. If more than 10 yards of the shot is putting green, I will use a less lofted club such as a pitching wedge. If more than 15 yards of the shot is putting green, I may even use a 7 or 8 iron. The reason is fairly simple. These clubs do not require a very long swing, and so a slight mishit is more likely to finish up on the green. If less than 10 yards is putting green, out comes the sand wedge or lob wedge as I do not want the ball to land in the grass around the green where bad bounces often result. I call this the 50:50 rule as 50 percent of the shot must be in the air for me to need that lofted club.
Once the club is selected, you need to envision what will happen. "Where will the ball land?" is the first thought. "What length and pace of swing will I need to get it there?" is next. Try to fixate on that landing point while making practice swings and “feel” what swing you will need to make to get it there. This is one time I do advocate multiple practice swings as you try to get a sense of the swing you will need.
Lastly, commit to the shot when you are ready, try to land on the spot you picked and watch the ball roll up close to or even in the hole.
Next – chipping technique.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.