Chipping for success in golf is a given. All golfers, whether they think so or not, are trying to sink every shot. I know that sometimes we say things like “If I get this close….”, but to be realistic, we are always trying to make every chip. However, percentages tell us that we are not always successful, yet it does not change our intent. Recently, two instances happened when I was playing where chipping was at the forefront of someone’s success on the links.
A couple of weeks ago I was playing in Men’s night at our local course. We were playing a 4 man scramble and we had to use at least one drive for each play during the 9 holes. Our group started on the 14th hole and as we walked out to our position, the discussion turned to our target score. Having played in many Men’s night scrambles, we all agreed that 28 would be the score to beat.
Birdieing the first hole was a great start. We were all playing well and more importantly, putting for birdie on every hole, but one. We hit the green in regulation on every shot except the easy par 4, 12th hole. On our third shot, we were on the back of the green, chipping down hill to a pin that was only 12 paces away. As chips go, this was very difficult.
Playing last all day (my usual position), I had the opportunity to watch the ball react from 3 different strokes. The first player used a PW, the ball came out hot and finished about 15 feet away from the pin. The second, used a sand wedge and stopped the ball about a foot away, but to the right. His line was off because he did not give enough break. The third player used a putter and came up short, but on a good line. Now it was my turn.
After watching all three players hit, I now knew the line, speed, and landing area for my shot. My partners helped me decide how to play the shot and more importantly, gave me confidence to execute a good chip. I picked my 60º Titleist Vokey wedge because I needed the ball to land soft and roll out about 5 paces. Placing the ball near my front foot to ensure I lofted the ball, I made the perfect stroke. My ball rose about 4 feet in the air, landed softly and rolled into the cup. If you are wondering, I did pull the pin; as the saying goes ‘pull the pin, it is going in!’
In the case of the Men’s night stroke, chipping for success became easier as I watch my playing partners hit their balls. The removed all the troublesome factors of speed, landing area, and club selection. I still had to execute the shot properly, but golf becomes easier when we can narrow the influences of each chip.
My second incident happened this week. I was golfing with Rick, one of my usual playing partners. Rick is an avid golfer and continues to improve his game every time we play. As we navigated the round, we started to discuss chipping. Rick always uses his sand wedge. Regardless of the shot, that is his go to club. He has great success from 25 or 30 yards out, but as he plays closer to the green, his sand wedge is more difficult to control.
I had mentioned using an 8-iron for many of his chip shots around the green because it would increase his chances of success. He understood what I was talking about, but did not understand how to execute a chip using an 8-iron. He used this club throughout the round and was heavy on most of his shots. So, on the 15th green, we took a few minutes and I explained how to chip execute this chip shot. He set up 15 paces from the pin with an uphill shot, I set up his grip and stance and explained that he did not have to hit the ball hard to have it travel the 15 paces.
Well, magic happened. His first two chips hit the pin! After a 2 minute talk, he now understood the concept of chipping for success. By using his 8-iron, he will have more opportunity to putt from a closer distance and reduce many of the factors related to making a successful chip. As we finished the round, I explained to Rick (and showed when the opportunity arose) when to use his 8-iron and when to use different clubs. Rick was very happy with the result of our chipping talk and I can see him using it in the future.
Chipping for success is important to great golf scores. Sometimes the success is chipping in and other times setting yourself up for a decent putt. Regardless, successful chipping can make or break your score; it is all a matter of reducing or eliminating the shot factors around the green.
How is your chipping lately?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!