The ultimate chipping question – up or along – part two?


“The good chip allows you to whistle while you walk in the dark alleys of golf.”  – Tommy Bolt

By Ian Hardie

In the post The ultimate chipping question – up or along?

I took a look at a question that I have been asked many times over the years

‘Should I use a wedge and get the ball up in the air or should I run the ball along the ground when chipping?’

As you may recall the first part of my answer was not the most definitive statement but ‘it depends’ is actually the only way the question can be answered, as you would have realised when I went on from there to suggest that the first part to consider

Is whether there is anything tricky between the ball and the hole?

As well as giving some thought to how the ball is lying in or on the grass – once that has been done and I have figured out exactly what the situation is I generally look to play a chip shot when there is no trouble between the ball and the hole

Which leaves me looking to play a pitch shot when there is something between the ball and the hole – that would be advantageous to play over

The difference between a chip and a pitch shot is effectively the trajectory of the shot

With a chip shot you are trying to strike the ball with a club that will get the ball briefly into the air, have it come down on the green as soon as possible and then the ball rolls the rest of the way to the hole – in other words – a chip shot has a low trajectory

A pitch shot on the other hand is a higher trajectory shot that is intentionally played up in the air quickly in an effort to have the golf ball travel over whatever trouble there is between the ball and the hole – then have it stop very quickly afterwards

As with a lot of situations on the golf course there is not always a clear cut answer

Whether a golfer should chip or pitch – as your personal competence with both types of shot, your personal preference and past experiences – all come into the mix when it comes to deciding which way to go

I suggested in that first post that the best way to figure out your preferred option when it comes to deciding whether to chip or pitch – is to go spend some time either on the course or around a practice green and put a few balls down in a bunch of different situations

Hit each ball with a different club, watching how the ball reacts as well as where it finishes

Take note of whether you feel confident in reproducing that shot in a game

Which if you haven’t realised by now – whether you feel confident in reproducing that shot in a game – is the most important thing about this question

The golf ball as I wrote about in this post isn’t the least bit interested in whether you choose to chip it or pitch it towards the hole

Your goal on most occasions when deciding on whether to chip or pitch the golf ball

Is to play a shot that will put you in the best possible position to give you a chance at holing your next shot – which will most likely be a putt

Having confidence in the type of shot that you are about to play is one of the main factors that dictates whether it will be successful – or not!

That said I am about to offer you a bit of a guideline that may seem a little unusual

However, I’m sure you are used to that sort of thing from me by now!

Years ago I figured out a useful way of helping golfers to decide whether to chip or pitch as their default short game shot – when there isn’t actually anything that the golf ball needs to be hit over

As you will have experienced yourself while trying some shots around a green

A chip shot almost always requires a smaller movement (back swing / hitting) than a pitch shots does

This is of course due to the fact that the chip shot is usually played with a lower lofted iron like a 7, 8 or 9 – so it takes a fairly small ‘hit’ to move the ball to your target

However, a pitch shot is usually played with a pitching, gap, sand or lob wedge

All of which have more loft and as a result they require a larger movement (back swing / hitting) to get the ball to travel the same distance as a chip shot would

This variation in the strength of ‘hit’ that is required – is the guideline that you can use

If you tend to be a fairly slow swinger and not hit the golf ball so hard with most of your other shots – you will probably tend to favour the smaller movement that the chip shot requires

Over the faster and more aggressive movement that the pitch shot requires

Which will more than likely suit the golfer who hits the golf ball harder and faster

That guideline that I have just shared with you is not an absolute because as you will no doubt be aware – all golfers have to play each type of shot on occasion

It’s just that in my experience over the years – most slower swingers seem to chip well and struggle with the speed required for a pitch shot

As opposed to faster swingers who happily pitch and occasionally struggle to chip

Which I’m going to look at further in ‘The ultimate chipping question – up or along – part three?’

Play well


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