How to decide what club to use for chipping

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what club to use for chipping

Chipping is a crucial aspect of golf that requires precision and accuracy. A player’s ability to hit a chip shot as close to the hole as possible will considerably reduce their score and improve their game. But, deciding what club to use for chipping can often be a confusing and challenging task for many golfers. The type of club you choose can impact the distance and trajectory of your shot to a great extent. So it’s important to make the right choice.

Here at the golf experts, we will guide you through the process of choosing the right club for chipping. We will examine the different types of clubs and their characteristics. And provide tips on how to decide on the best club for any chipping scenario.

The basics of deciding what club to use for chipping

Proper club selection on a chip shot shouldn’t be that complicated. But lots of golfers lose a lot of easy strokes around the green because they don’t pick the right club. They’re not sure what they should use and how come they should use that club over another. When deciding what club to use for chipping onto the green, you need to consider the following points:

Get on to the green as quickly as possible

This point is probably the most important. The bounce of your ball is more predictable when it lands on the green. The rollout towards the hole will be more like a putt. The first cut or fringe around the green, no matter how smooth they look, will cause your ball to bump around unpredictably and deviate from the target. Getting the ball over the fringe and onto the green as quickly as possible will give you the best chance of placing the ball close to the hole and setting up a short putt. You might even hole the chip for a birdie/eagle as well!

what club to use for chipping

Where is the hole location on the green?

Is the hole located at the back of the green? Or is it at the front and doesn’t give you much green to work with? Because it’s better to get the ball onto the green quickly, you must factor in how far the ball needs to roll to get to the hole. If the hole is 30 feet from the fringe, then you will most likely need a lower lofted club as it will roll out further. If the hole is only 5 feet away, then you will need a much higher lofted club. The ball will go high enough into the air to get on the green but will not roll too far. It’s always important to consider the hole location when deciding what club to use for chipping

What is the lie of the golf ball?

The lie of your ball plays a huge role in the kind of chip shot you are able to hit. You will need to pay careful attention to the area around and under your ball. You will struggle to get the ball on the green If you don’t match up the shot you are going to hit with the kind of lie that you are faced with.

Look at the area behind the ball. If there is no grass in the way, you can play any chipshot you wish. But, if there is thick grass behind your ball, your choices of shots become more limited. You will likely need to use a higher lofted club and open the club face. This will allow you to get the ball into the air quickly.

The lower the trajectory, the straighter the shot

More loft on a golf club means a bigger swing is necessary to get the ball closer to the hole. The opposite is true for lower-lofted clubs. A bigger swing means a higher chance of not hitting a good shot. And potentially skulling your shot across the green.

An important point to note is that the lower the ball’s flight/trajectory, the straighter the bounce of the ball once it lands on the green. Chipping with a lower lofted club will make the ball bounce and roll straighter than a higher lofted club.

What is between the golf ball and the green?

Are there any obstacles such as a bunker or a water hazard between your ball and the green? If there are, then you will need a higher-lofted club to get the ball over the obstacle.

Get your chipping baseline

Knowing how far the ball will carry and rollout for each club is especially important. For a short swing, does your 9 iron carry 15 yards and rollout 15 yards? Or does your 4 iron carry 5 yards and roll out 25 yards? You need to be aware of your yardages for each club so that you can choose the correct club for any chipping scenario. This is called your chipping baseline. The only way to know these yardages is to practice:

  1. Go to a practice green and place 10 balls 10 yards into the fringe
  1. Grab your highest lofted club and hit a ball onto the green with a small swing. Make sure your swing is one where your hands barely go past your rear thigh
  1. Note where the ball lands and note where it finally stops
  1. Measure those two distances, then repeat a further 9 times to get an average with that club.
  1. Repeat the above with all your clubs down to a 4 iron

You’ll now have a chipping distance by club baseline to work with. You could also do the above again with a slightly longer backswing. This will give you a bigger selection of yardages to use when out on the course.

what club to use for chipping

Different chipping scenarios around the green

Golfers can come up against many different chipping scenarios around the green. But, they can be categorized into the following:

Close to the green and lots of rollout distance

This is probably the easiest scenario. The common approach here is to hit a simple bump-and-run shot. Knowing your chipping carry and rollout yardages comes in very handy in this scenario. Just make a small swing or putting motion with the club that you know will land on the green the quickest but has enough momentum to roll out to the hole

Close to the green and not much rollout distance

If you are on the short side of the green (you are chipping onto an area of the green that is closest to the hole), you will definitely need a higher lofted club to get the ball on the green quickly and stop it from rolling out too much. Remember, higher lofted clubs produce a higher trajectory shot meaning the ball will go higher into the air and stop rolling quickly.

Professionals would usually hit a flop shot in this scenario. If you don’t have the required skills or are not confident hitting this shot, make sure you keep the ball on the green. And as close to the hole as possible. Ensuring that you have a putt on your next shot is an absolute must in this scenario. Do not compound the situation by skulling your shot into a bunker or not even making it onto the green.

Not particularly close to the green but lots of rollout distance

If you are faced with a shot that has more distance to get on the green you’ll probably have to use a high iron. This should ensure that you have enough carry to make it to the green, but enough rollout distance to get closer to the hole. Or, you could use a 54/56-degree wedge and hit a higher shot. Make sure you are comfortable hitting this type of shot. It will require a longer backswing. Which increases the chances of hitting a poor shot and not leaving yourself with a putt on the next shot.

Not particularly close to the green and not much rollout distance

This is a particularly difficult shot. You don’t have much green to land the ball quickly on the green, and not much rollout distance. Again, most professionals in this scenario would hit a flop shot. Amateurs and anyone not comfortable with this type of shot should make sure they at least keep the ball on the green. You should always give yourself a putt for the next shot. You could even think about landing the ball on the fringe to stop the ball from rolling out too much.

Understanding wedge bounce

When deciding what club to use for chipping, it is important to understand wedge bounce. The bounce of a wedge refers to the angle between the leading edge of the club head and the ground when the club is resting in its normal position. This angle is what allows the club to move smoothly through the grass or sand and make good contact with the ball. The amount of bounce on a golf wedge can have a significant impact on the quality of the shots you hit with it.

Bounce can be thought of as a measurement of the sole’s curvature from front to back. A wedge with a high bounce will have a sole that is more curved, while a wedge with a low bounce will have a flatter sole. High-bounce wedges are designed to help players make clean contact with the ball, especially in wet or soft conditions, while low-bounce wedges are better suited for firmer surfaces.

The amount of bounce a golfer needs will depend on their swing and the conditions they usually play in. A golfer with a steep angle of attack, who hits down on the ball, may benefit from a wedge with less bounce, as the flatter sole will not get stuck in the ground. Conversely, a golfer with a shallow angle of attack, who sweeps the ball off the ground, may be better off using a wedge with more bounce, as the curved sole will help them avoid digging into the ground.

When hitting shots from bunkers or thick rough, high-bounce wedges can be very useful. The curved sole allows the club to glide through the sand or rough without getting stuck, making it easier to make good contact with the ball. But, when hitting from a firm, tight lie or from the fairway, low-bounce wedges can be more effective. As they allow players to make crisp, clean contact with the ball.

what club to use for chipping

What club do you use to chip around the green

The short answer is, it depends! The end goal of your chip shot is always to get the ball either in the hole or as close to the hole as possible. So choosing a club that you are most comfortable with is an important part of the decision-making process. Does the situation require a flop or a very high shot with a soft landing? If so, are you comfortable making this shot? If you are, then choose your 56/60-degree wedge. If you are not comfortable, then use a lower lofted club with a swing that will keep you on the green. If you know you are not going to be able to keep the ball very close to the hole, then make sure you keep the ball on the green. When deciding what club to use on the fringe, always strive to have your next shot a putt.

Chipping from the rough around the green

Chipping from the rough around a golf green can be challenging because of the inconsistent lies that result from the longer grass. This can affect the trajectory and spin of the ball, making it difficult to control and predict its landing. The rough can also slow down the club head speed, reducing the distance the ball will travel. Additionally, the rough can cause the club to grip or grab the grass, resulting in a mis-hit shot or the club getting stuck in the grass.

You will generally want to choose your highest lofted club and open the face. This will allow the ball to pop up into the air as quickly as possible before the club can get tangled in the rough. Remember, when opening the face of your club, the ball will go more to the right (for a right-handed golfer). So ensure that you compensate for this by aiming more to the left.

Should you chip with a 7 iron or a wedge

Both clubs can definitely be used for chipping. Again, it depends on the situation. If you have a fairly short distance to the green and lots of green to roll out to the hole then chipping with a 7-iron would be a good approach to getting the ball as close to the hole as possible. Or if you are a bit further away from the green and don’t have much green to work with, chipping with a wedge is probably the best option. A wedge chip will go higher and land softer, resulting in less rollout.

Remember the opposite doesn’t work. Chipping with a wedge when you have a lot of green to work with will result in the ball probably not rolling out far enough to the hole. Similarly, chipping with a 7 iron when you are short-sided will result in the ball going too far past the hole.

Bonus Tip – For the most comprehensive guide on chipping, including flop shots, bump and runs, and bunker shots, see our golf chipping and golf chipping technique pages.

The Cut line

There are several factors to consider when choosing what club to use for chipping. These include the type of grass, the slope of the green, the distance to the hole, and your personal preferences.

Additionally, the type of shot you want to hit will also play a role in the club you choose. For example, if you want to hit a low, running shot that rolls along the green (bump and run). You would choose a club with less loft, such as a 7/8 iron. Alternatively, if you want to hit a high, soft shot that stops quickly. You should choose a club with more loft, such as a pitching/sand wedge. A critical point to take from this article is to get out to your driving range/practice facility/garden and practice what you’ve read above. And get those carry/rollout yardages nailed down!

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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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