Which Wedge Should I Chip With?
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach to chipping. Not if you want to do it well anyway! You need to pick the best club for the situation you find yourself in. Although many players will tend to have a favorite club that they would prefer to chip with they will still try to use the right tool for the job most of the time. If you are in the market for some new wedges then you should check out my guide to wedges.
What Trajectory Do You Need?
A good rule of thumb with chipping is to try to get the ball to land on a flat area of green where you can judge the type of bounce best. If you’re faced with an obstacle between you and the green then you’re going to need to work out how lofted a shot you need to try and get to a landing spot that you like.
You might need to carry a bunker, a bush or some mounding on the green. In this scenario, you are probably going to need to use one of the most lofted wedges in your bag, either a sand wedge or a lob wedge. Typically you might find a chipshot hit with one of these will travel around 75% of its distance in the air and around 25% along the ground. It’s then all about your ability to land the ball in the correct place.
If you don’t have anything in your way then you might find chipping with a nine iron, pitching wedge or gap wedge will give you more of a 50-50 or 60-40 ratio.
If you’re quite close to the green then you may be able to use a six-iron, seven-iron or eight-iron to loft the ball the short distance onto the putting surface before letting it roll out. In this scenario, you might be looking at 25% in the air and 75% on the ground.
Using different clubs you can use a putting stroke method and simply change the club depending on the carry to roll ratio that you need.
Rule of 12
Some beginners may be taught the “Rule of 12”. This is a simple method for picking the club you need to get a specific carry-to-roll ratio.
For example, you need to carry the ball 1 yard to land on the green and then you have 5 yards to the pin. Using the rule of 12, you have 12 – (5/1) = 7. So you should use your seven iron in this scenario. If you were 3 yards off the green and had 3 yards to the pin you would use your gap wedge. 12 – (3/3) = 11. 11 is your gap wedge and 10 would be your pitching wedge.
The Rule of 12 is probably most useful for beginners or high handicappers who haven’t developed a good enough level of feel in their chipping compared with more experienced players or lower handicappers.
What Sort Of Lie Do You Have?
I think the sort of lie your ball has finished in will also have an effect on your shot selection. If the course you’re playing has lots of thick rough in close proximity to the green then you’re not going to be able to play a low trajectory chip and run with a six-iron!
You’re going to have to use something with more loft in order to get your ball out of this deep rough and land it onto the putting surface. Again in an ideal world, you want to try to land the ball on a flat piece of green if possible as this will best allow you to judge how the ball will react.
If you finish on a tight or bare lie then you may have to admit that using the putter is the best option. It all depends on your ability to execute the shot. There’s a reason why people say that your worst putt is probably going to be better than your worst chip!
How Much Room Do You Have To Work With?
If you don’t have a lot of green to work with then either you’re going to have to take the aerial route or accept that you will leave yourself a longer putt. Sometimes you have to be honest about your ability and work out the chances of you being able to pull off a particular shot. This is particularly important when playing in a competition as the last thing you want to do is compound your problem by dropping several shots on one hole. Scoring well is as much about minimizing the damage as it is about your ability to control the golf ball.
Tiers and Tears
If you need to chip to a hole cut on a tier then you’ll probably find a low-running chip will give you success more often than a high-spinning chip. Unless you’re a really good player who spends a lot of time working on their short game you’ll probably find it difficult to land the ball exactly where you want with the correct amount of spin in this scenario. A much lower-risk option would be to take seven or eight iron and hit a low running shot that trundles up the slope and at least gives you a reasonable chance of making the putt.
The simplest way to chip would be to use a method as close as possible to your putting stroke. Just change the loft of the club to adjust how far the ball flies and rolls. Maybe a gap wedge, 9-iron and a 7-iron. This would give a lofted option a 50-50 option and more of a low runner.
If you are new to golf or don’t play that often then that is likely to be the most successful way for you to chip. You may even find a chipper is the best option for you as this is designed to let you use a putting stroke. This
If you have more time to work on your game and develop some feel then you can think about varying the ball position in your stance to adjust the trajectory of your shots. You can try opening and closing the face to see how that affects the way the ball carries and rolls.
If you have the time and the practice green available then you could spend half an hour every time you’re at the club just throwing balls into random positions and trying to get up and down with a variety of clubs so you get a feel for what is and isn’t possible.
Here’s Danny Maude showing a simple method for chipping.
Which Wedge Should I Chip With?: Conclusion
Golf doesn’t offer any points for style so you need to come up with a way that gets the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible. Most people don’t have the time to devote to get a short game like Phil Mickelson so do yourself a favor and put the lob wedge away and try the chip and run. You may find more success.