When a golfer reaches the green, he or she must make the strategic decision of whether to chip, pitch or putt. Determining which to use, is an important part of your short game, not to mention a deciding factor in which stories you’ll be telling at the clubhouse.
The chip shot has a low trajectory; most of the distance is on the ground as the ball rolls toward the flag. With a pitch shot, the ball will spend the majority of the time in the air, and when it lands, there will be very little roll. Once a golfer gets his golf ball on the putting surface, it is time to putt.
Executing a Chip Shot
To employ a chip shot, a descending blow is needed on the golf green. To properly execute a chip shot, the clubhead must reach its lowest point after initial impact. You may be tempted to press the golf club into the grass at address, but that only presets the golf swing’s low point at a spot directly behind the golf ball. Contact is the likely result of this ineffective technique. Instead, it’s advisable to address the golf ball with the leading edge of the clubhead below the golf ball’s equator. With the golf ball towards the back of your golf stance and the shaft angled over slightly toward your target, a descending strike can be achieved. Keep your wrists straight as you take the club back to hit the ball. Your backswing must be kept very short, as well as your follow-through. Because chip shots do not have much loft, they can be attempted with a 5 iron, a 9 iron or a pitching wedge. How far back in your stance determines how much arc the chip will have. The key to success with this shot is to make sure the hands stay ahead of the club head. Never attempt to help the ball into the air; let the loft of the club do its job.
Use Pitch Shots for Hazards
Pitch shots are most useful for escaping hazards (sand trap, tall grass, water, etc…) that require lobbing the ball over the obstacle or if you don’t have much green to work with and need to stop the ball quickly. With a pitch shot, you will need to cock your wrists on the backswing in order to create more club head speed and a descending strike to achieve a high trajectory. The ball should be more forward in your stance and as with the chip shot, keep the hands ahead of the club head at impact. The ball position, speed of the strike and loft of the club will get the ball airborne. If the golfer tries to “help” the ball in the air by flipping the hands all kinds of bad shots are possible. The ball should land close to the hole, with as little roll as possible. Clubheads with different degrees of loft are available for purchase. Look for lob wedges, sand wedges, and gap wedges.
Putting and Alignment
Putting is an art of its own requiring green reading abilities and alignment techniques. When you read the green you consider aspects such as ball speed, slope, fall line, and the weather. These will help you determine what strategy you want to use for alignment. Professional golfers such as Furyk use spot putting and alignment guides to help improve their accuracy. Spot putters focus on rolling the ball over a location about 6 inches in front of the ball. In addition to spot putting, Furyk employs an alignment guide on his ball to improve accuracy. LinksWalker manufactures ProVictory OPT golfs balls, which are USGA Conforming and feature a patented alignment guide. Point the alignment guide directly at your target when you putt. The alignment guide should roll end over end and not wobble. By watching the ball as it rolls, it will give you valuable feedback on the success of your putt.
Deciding whether to chip, pitch or putt, comes from time spent on the course. Will Rogers once said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” Grab a sleeve of ProVictory OPT golf balls, your clubs and hit the green. Until you put this advice into practice, you’ll have no idea how many strokes you can save!