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Are Chippers Legal in Golf?

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are chippers legal in golf

Yes, golf chippers are definitely legal in golf. Because they are classed as an iron, as long as it’s single-sided and does not have a putter grip, it conforms to the equipment rules of an iron. 

However, golf chippers do generate a lot of negative press. I know from first-hand experience, the stigma attached to even having a chipper in your bag. The sniggers and chuckles behind your back can be very disheartening.

Starting to play golf at an older age or without proper instruction means you end up engraining a lot of bad habits. One of these bad habits new players and amateurs suffer from is the feeling that they should hit at a ball, rather than let the ball simply get in the way of the club. 

This hitting action promotes a jerky action. With little chip shots and the short game in general, a hitting action can be disastrous. Fat shots that go 5 yards and thin/bladed shots that go miles over the green are not uncommon. Chippers are designed to help with this.

So why all the negativity around chippers? Can they help your short game? Is there more to the question are chippers legal in golf? Read on for The Golf Experts’ expert guidance on all things chipper-related.

What is a golf chipper?

A chipper golf club is essentially a putter but with the loft of a 7 iron – about 37 degrees. Think of them as a hybrid putter/7 iron. It is designed for short, low-trajectory shots around the green. It is usually used by golfers who want to get the ball close to the hole with a single stroke, without making a full swing with a higher lofted club.

A chipper club has a small head and a short shaft, which allows for more control and precision when chipping. It is usually lofted between 30-37 degrees, less than a pitching wedge, but more than a putter. The face of the club is also angled to help lift the ball up off the ground with a slight backspin, which helps to control the distance and direction of the shot.

Golf chippers are often used by beginner and intermediate golfers who have trouble with chipping and pitching, as they can be easier to hit than other clubs. However, some experienced golfers also use a chipper club as part of their short-game strategy, especially when they want to reduce the risk of a bad shot and avoid putting from off the green.

Chipper clubs are legal for use on the PGA Tour, provided that they meet the requirements set out by the governing body. The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) jointly establish and interpret the rules of golf, which include specifications for the design and performance of golf equipment.

According to the rules, chipper clubs are classed as an iron and must conform to the same design and performance standards as any other iron. The USGA and R&A have set limits on the length, loft, and width of the clubhead, as well as other specifications such as the angle of the face and the shape of the grooves. As long as a chipper club meets these requirements, it is considered legal on the PGA Tour and in other competitions.

Some of the more interesting rules include:

  • You are not allowed to use a putter grip on a chipper
  • It must not contain two striking faces (aka a two-way chipper)
  • It cannot contain any appendages used for aiming
are chippers legal in golf

What about double-sided chippers?

A double-sided or two-way chipper has two faces, one on each side of the clubhead. The idea behind the double-sided chipper is to offer golfers more versatility and options when chipping and pitching. One face of the club is typically designed for low, running shots, while the other face is lofted for high, soft shots. This allows golfers to use the same club for a wider range of shots, depending on the situation and their preferences. However, double-sided chippers are illegal to use in tournaments because they violate rule 4.d – The clubhead must have only one striking face. No two for the price of one allowed, unfortunately.

Can you use a chipper in a golf competition?

Yes, you can use a chipper in a golf competition. Be careful with the chipper that you use, and that it is within the equipment guidelines. Make sure it is not fitted with a putter grip and only has one striking face (Is not double-sided). Be careful when adding a chipper to your bag so that it doesn’t push you over the maximum of 14 clubs allowed in your bag. You’d be surprised at how many people forget this!

Why are chippers frowned upon?

Golf chippers are sometimes frowned upon in certain golf circles, especially among more experienced players, for a few reasons:

  • Limited versatility – Chippers are designed specifically for low, rolling shots around the green and are not suitable for a wide range of other shots. This limited versatility may make them less appealing to golfers who prefer to have a wider range of clubs in their bag.
  • Lack of challenge – Because chippers are designed to be relatively easy to use and are intended to simplify the short game, some golfers feel that they take away some of the challenge and skill required to execute a variety of short-game shots.
  • Not commonly used by professionals – Professional golfers rarely use chippers on the PGA Tour or other professional tournaments, which may contribute to their perceived lack of legitimacy among some golfers.
  • Perceived as “cheating” – Some golfers view chippers as a shortcut or a way to cheat the game by simplifying a part of the game that requires more skill and finesse.
are chippers legal in golf

Should you use a golf chipper?

That depends! There is no reason, legally that you shouldn’t. Golf chippers are frowned upon by golfing purists, so you might get some odd looks from your playing partners. However, if you struggle using a wedge around the green, then a chipper might help you improve your short game and lower your scores. Would you rather have a tap in putt after using a chipper, and have your playing partners mumble obscenities about chippers under their breath? Or would you rather chunk a chip 2 yards and have your playing partners snigger behind your back? I know which I would rather do.

Do pros use chippers?

Yes, professionals are known to use golf chippers in competition. Believe it or not, not every golf professional is blessed with supreme ability in all facets of the game of golf. Some pros do struggle with the short game. Graham Delaet is one pro that has been very open about his struggles around the green. Guido Migliozzi is also known to have used a chipper in the past.

Reasons to use a golf chipper

  • Easier to hit bump-and-run style shots from around the green
  • You have issues with your wrists which make using a wedge difficult
  • Less chance of hitting chunked and thin shots
  • You are someone who struggles around the green
  • You normally prefer to use a putter when just off the green

Reasons to not use a golf chipper

  • Limited range of shot types
  • They are only recommended for bump and run style shots
  • You want to add more spin to your ball

How do you use a chipper?

Using a golf chipper is relatively straightforward and involves a technique that is similar to putting

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Pick out a spot on the green where you want the ball to land and roll toward the hole. 

Position the ball slightly back in your stance, closer to your back foot, to help promote a low trajectory.

Use a putting stroke to strike the ball, keeping your wrists firm and your arms straight throughout the shot. Maintain a smooth and even follow-through, extending your arms and club towards the target after contact with the ball.

FAQ

Are golf chippers worth it?

Golf chippers are worth it if you really struggle with chipping. If a shot just off the green fills you with dread, use a chipper. At least until you get more comfortable using an iron or wedge when off the green. Golf chippers are not usually very expensive either, so they are a good option to have. You can pick up a chipper for about $30. Just remember to not go over your 14-club limit if playing in a competition.

What loft is a chipper golf club?

A chipper typically has less loft than a wedge. Chipper lofts typically range from 30 to 37 degrees.

What is the difference between a chipper and a wedge?

The main difference between a chipper and a wedge is their design and intended use. A chipper is a type of golf club that is primarily designed for low, rolling shots around the green, while a wedge is designed for a variety of high and low shots, including full swings and shots from the sand.

The clubhead of a chipper is typically smaller and more compact than a wedge, with a straight or slightly angled face to promote a low trajectory. Wedges, on the other hand, have larger clubheads with angled faces and grooves designed to generate spin and lift the ball higher into the air.

Can you take a full swing with a chipper?

You can take a full swing with a chipper but it is not usually recommended. This is because the chipper is designed to be used with a putting style motion. Due to the 30+ degrees of loft on the chipper, you can use a longer, wedge-style swing and the ball should travel a good distance. But because the club face has a smaller area for contact than a wedge or iron, striking the ball with the sweet spot of the face is a lot more difficult. For more information on golf club distances, read our guide here

Alternative to using a golf chipper

Get your 7 or 8 iron out of the bag! Golf chippers are designed for a bump-and-run style shot. The low bounce of the sole means you’re less likely to dig into the ground and hit a fat shot. Normally, golfers will use a high iron (7, 8, 9) for a bump and run shot, so grab one of those clubs if you need an alternative to the golf chipper. See our guide on what club to use for chipping

The Cut line

Despite the stigma attached to using a golf chipper, it can be a very useful club. For anyone struggling with their short game, using a golf chipper can help you to get back in your groove. In golf, there are many ways to get the ball to, and into the hole. A chipper is one of those ways. Don’t be embarrassed if you need to use a chipper to aid you. 

Remember, the chipper is intended for low, rolling shots around the green. Practice and experimentation will help you become more comfortable and proficient with using a chipper on the course.

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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