Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #13
Click play to listen to Greg’s Podcast, or read below.
The last two weeks we’ve talked about putting, this week the focus is on that pesky shot around the green from the fringe to the apron. Do they still use the term apron? The apron is the close cut grass that acts as an entrance to the green, tightly mowed fairway grass.
I grew up on a short public course with small greens, and the short shot called the chip was a shot you had to have in your bag. On these greens, most of which were flat and had little back to front slope. They would not hold a wedge shot. So many times the approach shot would roll off into the fringe or a few yards to the side of the green. The golfer with the best chip shot could often beat a player with a sharp iron game or deadly putter.
The secret was the chip shot, and I say chip not pitch. I prefer to chip the ball in other words, get the ball rolling as soon as possible. With a pitch shot, the ball fly’s halfway to the hole or most of the way to the hole and trickles the remaining distance. The reason I prefer chipping over pitching is that with pitching you have to worry about direction and distance. Direction usually takes care of itself with the chip and you can just focus on distance. There are times when the situation calls for a pitch, for instance if there is a hazard such as a sand trap or creek between you and the hole. And we’ll talk more about the pitch shot next time, but the chip shot, I feel, is a more forgiving shot, and one the average golfer can master.
Set up with your feet only a few inches apart, with most of your weight on your left side or leading side, like your leaning into the shot, and then hit the ball like a putt except for the descending blow. The idea is to pinch the ball into the turf. Depending on the distance to the hole you can use anything from a pitching wedge, or 48 degree wedge if you prefer, to a 4-iron. Let’s say your 3 feet off the green with 10 feet to the hole, unless the shot’s uphill, that’s probably a pitching wedge shot. Deal off the club just a little, and fly the ball just on the green. It should roll the remaining 10 feet. My favorite chip shot is the 7-iron chip. I would use it for a shot between 20 feet and 60 feet. It’s also useful on a shorter shot that’s uphill, or on a 2 level green. Even at 60 feet I expect to get a 7-iron chip within 3 feet of the hole.
With a little practice you could even learn to hook or cut the shot a little to work against the grain or the slope of the green. It’s a tremendous advantage when you have the confidence that you can get the ball up and down with a chip shot. Barring penalty shots, no matter how bad your game is on a certain day, you should never have worse than a bogie if you can chip within a 3 foot circle of the hole. It’s also a valuable shot on a windy day, since the wind doesn’t affect a chip shot as much as a pitch shot or certainly as much as a full shot.
Again, next week we’ll talk more about the pitch shot, but practice that chip shot and you’ll cut strokes off your game.