The key to scoring well is the short game, we know that already, but for scoring to your potential around the greens at this time of the year, the easier the type of shot you elect to play, the better the score.
One of the easiest shots to master in our new series is the “Chip Putt”.
Basically, it ‘does what it says on the tin’ and if you miss a green with your approach and you are just off the edge of the green, no matter how bad your lie is (with the exception of being plugged!), this shot can save you plenty of strokes and avoid the dreaded “duff”.
The technique is simple. You know how to putt right? I hope so! So why not use a putting stroke and add a little loft to the club?
All you have to do is repeat the same firm-wristed technique with a 9-iron or a pitching wedge and as long as the hands are ahead of the ball at impact, and you strike the ball with a slight downward stroke, you cannot fail to master this simple shot saver in a matter of minutes.
The idea is to get the ball onto the putting surface as soon as possible and let the ball run to the hole instead of risking everything by playing a shot only Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods can manage. From this range, far too many amateurs try the “flop” shot and end up writing down a massive score on their cards.
The Chip Putt is a shot that the pro’s expect to hole every now and again and if you pay attention to the basics here, you too can drop your scores and win a bit more money off of your mates!
Set up is the key
Set up in exactly the same way as you would if you were putting, then lean just ahead of the ball with you weight favouring 60-40 on the left side (left-handers…other way around!). Make sure you have a firm grasp of the club with your putting grip and don’t let the left wrist melt at impact...that is very important!
With a few practice strokes, get the feel of the lie of the grass at a point nearby the ball, (without interfering with the lie). Once you can “feel” how tough the grass is around that area, you get an idea of how hard to strike the ball to make it pop up and out of the lie letting the ball release to the hole.
That is the key to this shot, if you can rock your shoulders like a putt and keep the wrist solid at impact, the ball will jump out of the lie with no spin, land on the green and run to the hole, it won’t ‘check’ like a normal chip.
It is a “dead” kind of shot where nothing spectacular happens, it just gets the ball out of most bad lies and on to the green, somewhere close to the hole. All you are doing is putting…but with lots more loft on the clubface…it works a treat and is a shot used by many of the world’s top professionals.
The best way to practice this kind of shot is give yourself plenty of different lies around the practice green and try and play the same shot. Watch how the ball reacts…all very similarly…that way, you can judge where you should land the ball on the green. Try to land the ball just on the putting surface, about two feet on the green, then you can adapt the shot by using different clubs and experimenting on how far the ball runs so you can attack other pin positions.
Take a club and lay it across the green and try and chip the ball just over that club and watch how far it runs. Obviously, the lesser the loft on the club, the more it will roll.
Once you have mastered the feel of this shot, you can adapt it to use many clubs. I can go as far down as a 6-iron and play the same kind of shot and it saves me heaps of shots through the year. I find this shot works well up to about 25-feet with a 6-iron. If you have more than 25-feet, may I recommend an orthodox chip with a normal grip and a bit of lag in the hands.
The “Chip Putt”, it’s simple, effective and saves loads of shots…trouble is, it’s not flash.
But who needs it to be when you return a ‘flash’ score at the end of your round…remember, it’s not how, it’s how many!
Article first published February 2001, updated April 2013