Considering what the best club for a chip shot is? Well, depending on the situation and your skill level the answer could be almost any club in your bag.
Around the green you need to consider a whole manner of variables when weighing up the club that is likely to give you the best result. You want to think about your lie, the pace of the green, the amount of green you have to work with, any obstacles between your ball and the hole, which clubs you perform best with and the pressure of the shot.
With all that in mind, in this article we will take a look at how you make the decision of which club to choose when faced with a chip shot.
Table of Contents
What clubs can you use for a chip shot?
When you are just off the putting surface you could theoretically use any club in your bag. The driver is very uncommon, otherwise every club can have a specific use. There are no rules stating you have to use any club, so you should keep an open mind.
Choosing the correct club for a chip
It can be common for golfers to get a mental block and always use the same one or two clubs for chipping. However, using all your different clubs depending on the situation will often help make the shot easier.
As a young golfer I received a few short game lessons from the late great Tommy Horton, a two-time Ryder Cup player. His advice was always “unless there is a good reason not to [like a severe slope or bad lie], use whichever club gets the ball onto the putting surface quickest and still gets the ball to stop at the hole”.
This sound advice still sticks with me many years on. The idea being that you should use the green to your advantage and minimize the risks. Using a higher lofted club often brings many more variables into the shot that most club golfers would benefit from removing, such as wind or a bad contact.
Chipping with a wedge
Probably the most common go-to clubs for golfers when hitting a chip shot are their wedges. Superior versatility with more loft means that a wedge can perform a variety of shots. The majority of golfers carry at least a couple of specialist wedges with grooves specifically designed to impart more spin on the ball too.
A wedge is likely to be the best option for a chip shot when you need to carry the ball a closer distance to the hole, impart more spin or get the ball airborne quicker.
Examples of when to use your wedge to chip include:
Carrying a specific obstacle between the ball and the flag, e.g. a bunker or mound
The green is sloped significantly downhill to the flag
A bad lie where the ball is sitting down or in thick rough
There is very little room to work with on the green
The bounce and grind of a wedge can allow for a whole array of shots to be played by a skilled golfer. If well practiced, a wedge can be useful for hitting any type of chip from flop to a chip-and-run. However, the sharper leading edge means that the risk of a poor strike is higher.
Chipping with an iron
The chip-and-run (or bump-and-run) is arguably the most used chip shot in golf, especially for the average club golfer. The simplest way to hit this shot is with an iron and you want to choose the club depending on how much loft and roll you require.
When hitting this shot you want to use the natural loft of the iron to get the ball slightly airborne, before letting the ball roll towards the hole. You want to use a short pendulum-like swing, similar to a putting stroke, where your wrists are kept completely out of the shot. Your stance should be narrow and your weight kept slightly onto your leading leg.
Examples of when to use an iron to chip include:
You have a lot of relatively flat green (or short fringe) between the ball and the hole
You want to keep the ball under an obstacle, e.g. a tree
You plan on using the natural contours of the surface to get the ball towards the hole
Conditions where there is a strong wind
Chipping with a fairway wood or hybrid
Using a fairway wood or hybrid for a chip shot is often underutilized by most amateur golfers. It is an excellent option that falls halfway between a chip-and-run shot with an iron and using your putter.
When using a fairway wood or hybrid you want to grip down on the shaft and stand closer to the ball than you typically would with a full shot. From here the technique is similar to using an iron for chipping, as described above.
You can use this shot in a similar situation to a chip-and-run, where there is nothing obscuring the ball's path towards the hole. However, using a fairway wood or hybrid is particularly useful when the ball is on a tight lie, where the ground is firm or not much grass is under the ball. The wider clubface and lack of leading edge makes it easier to make consistent contact than with an iron. Plus, the hotter clubface and slightly more loft ensures the ball gets through any ‘stickier’ grass than using a putter.
No, using your putter is not a chip shot, but you cannot discuss chipping without considering the use of a putter from off the green. When there is only short fringe or fairway grass between your golf ball and the hole, putting is often the most stress-free solution.
Everyone has probably heard that a bad putt is better than a bad chip and this is completely true. If you are not a confident chipper, and there is nothing preventing you from getting the putter out, then it is a great option. Just remember to still practice this shot, because putting from off the green takes skill and judgement to consistently perform well.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
When making a decision what club to choose for a chip shot, you want to consider how confident you are of executing the shot you intend to play. In a situation where you have multiple options, taking the one that will only come off 1% of the time is unlikely to be the correct choice.
Golfers not overly dependable with their chip shots are unlikely to perform consistently well with their wedges around the greens. A wedge has the sharpest leading edge of all the golf clubs and improper strikes will lead to regularly fatting and thinning the ball. If this sounds like you, then a chip-and-run shot with a different club or putting will likely provide better results.
Sometimes a situation on the golf course will force you into a certain club decision. For example, chipping over a bunker you will most likely need to use a high lofted wedge.
However, if you are presented with multiple options, choose the club that will get you close to the hole most of the time. Not closest to the hole some of the time.