What Is the Rule of 12 in Chipping? A Step-by-Step guide

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what is the rule of 12 in chipping

Chipping in golf is a crucial skill that can significantly impact your overall performance on the course. One technique that many golfers find useful in improving their chipping abilities is the Rule of 12. This method introduces a precise relationship between the amount of roll you can achieve on a shot and the club used for chipping or pitching.

The Rule of 12 operates by using the number 12 as the base, which represents the desired yards you want the ball to travel on a chip or pitch. When you use a lower lofted club, the ball will have more roll, enabling it to cover more distance. In contrast, a higher lofted club will provide less roll, ensuring the ball lands closer to the hole. Understanding this concept can help golfers optimize their club selection and chipping techniques to save strokes around the green.

Here at The Golf Experts, we have done the research for you. This guide dives into our experiments with the rule and explains it all in detail!

What Is the Rule of 12 in Chipping?

In short, the Rule of 12 is an easy method that many golfers use to understand the relationship between the loft of a golf club and how much a chip or pitch shot will roll after impact. The core principle behind this rule is that it enables golfers to estimate the expected travel distance for a chip based on the desired rollout and in-flight distances

This rule is mostly used for chip shots, where you’ve got limited space close to the green. In this scenario, you only need to start your golf ball’s motion, then let it hit the green and roll out on its own the rest of the way to the hole.

See, because each club comes with a different loft, you must have an estimation of how hitting the ball this close to the hole will affect the amount of time it spends in the air and the distance it’ll roll on the ground.

While this might sound like rocket science for beginners, you’ll find out that these calculations couldn’t be more simple. Once you understand how the Rule of 12 works, the confusion should be cleared up!

Explaining How to Use the Rule of 12

You need some basic math knowledge to use the Rule of 12. Here’s the formula for knowing the right club loft for your chip shot:

Club number = 12 – (roll-out distance / carry distance)

Let’s explain this formula further and simplify it with a real-life example. Say that you’re around 12 yards away from the hole, and you’ve decided you want to hit the ball hard enough so that it carries for 3 yards and rolls out the rest of the way to the hole (9 yards).

To pick the perfect club for the shot, all you have to do is divide the roll-out distance by the carry distance, which is 9 by 3 to give you 3. Then, subtract that number from the 12 in the formula (which explains the name of the rule) to get 9.

There’s your answer; you should pick a 9-iron club to land that chip shot. Isn’t it a piece of cake?

The bottom line is that the higher the loft of a club is, the more distance the ball will fly before reaching the ground and the less it’ll roll out. The opposite is true; the lower the loft, the less time your golf ball will spend in the air and the more distance it’ll roll.

what is the rule of 12 in chipping

Applying the Rule of 12 to Different Situations

Let’s have a look at how to apply the Rule of 12 in different chipping situations. This efficient technique helps golfers determine the best club to use for a variety of chip shots. The following sub-sections will provide deeper insights into gauging chip distance, selecting the proper club, and determining the ball’s roll using the Rule of 12.

Gauging the Chip Distance

First, estimate the distance from the ball’s current position to the spot on the green where you want the ball to land. Consider any slopes or breaks on the putting surface that may affect the roll. The Rule of 12 uses the number of yards you want the ball to travel in the air to calculate the appropriate club selection, so make sure you have a clear understanding of the distance involved. Additionally, the distance on the green will help determine how much the ball needs to roll after landing.

Selecting the Proper Club

Now that you have an estimated distance, you can select the proper club by applying the Rule of 12. Subtract the desired air distance (in yards) from 12 to determine which club to use. For example, if you want the ball to travel 5 yards in the air, you would use a 7-iron (12 – 5 = 7). This straightforward calculation helps simplify club selection and allows for more consistency in your chip shots.

Determining the Ball’s Roll

Finally, consider how much the ball will roll once it lands on the green. Using the Rule of 12, you can get a better understanding of the ball’s roll based on the club you have selected. Lower lofted clubs will cause the ball to roll more, while higher lofted clubs will produce a softer landing with less roll.

For example, if you’re using a 7-iron for a 5-yard air distance, you can expect the ball to have a 1:1 ratio of air distance to roll distance, leading to a total of 10 yards traveled (5 yards in the air + 5 yards of roll). Adjusting the club selection based on the roll characteristics will help you execute the optimal chip shot for the specific situation.

How to Practice Chipping Using the Rule of 12?

Surely by now, using the Rule of 12 sounds easy since you know how it works. Yet, hitting your nearest golf course and giving a chip shot a try using this method may not give you desirable results from the get-go.

Don’t fret, though, because nailing your chip shots will come with practice, much like everything else golf-related. To help you stay on the right track, here are a few tips to keep in mind when practicing chipping:

1. Choose a Flat Practice Green

If this is your first time trying out chip shots, it’s best to start small and go for a completely flat practice green. An irregular or uneven green will definitely affect your calculations, and you need to ace the basic rule first before adding in other obstacles.

Once you pick a flat practice green, grab three clubs with different lofts to get a feel of how using each one will impact your shot. You can go for a 7-iron, 9-iron, and a wedge.

2. Put Your Tees in Different Distances From the Hole

To get a sense of how hard to hit the ball using each club, your best bet is to position your tees at various distances from the hole. 

Not only will this help you practice the Rule of 12 more effectively, but it’ll also develop your natural feel of the club with time.

We suggest you put your tees 12, 24, and 36 yards away from the hole. This way, the ball will have to experience long and short distances both in the air and rolling on the ground, giving you different variables to deal with.

3. Begin Hitting Your Golf Balls

Now, all that’s left is to grab a few golf balls and start hitting them from each spot that you’ve marked with your tees earlier.

From each distance, practice your swings several times using each one of your clubs. Soon enough, your arms will gauge the force required to hit the ball in every scenario the more you practice.

With persistence, patience, and, of course, using the help of the Rule of 12, your chip shots will eventually hit the mark!

Common Rule of 12 Mistakes and Corrections

When applying the Rule of 12 in chipping, golfers may make some common mistakes that can lead to poor results. In this section, we will outline these mistakes and suggest corrections to help you improve your chipping accuracy and control.

Incorrect calculation of rollout ratio

The Rule of 12 is based on calculating the rollout ratio (how far the ball will roll after it lands), and some golfers may miscalculate this ratio. To correct this mistake, always ensure you divide 12 by the loft angle of the club you’re using (e.g., 12 divided by the loft angle of a 56-degree wedge would be 12/56).

Playing the ball too far back in the stance

Some golfers may position the ball too far back in their stance when chipping, which can lead to inconsistent contact and more difficult rollout predictions. To correct this issue, play the ball in the middle or slightly forward of the middle of your stance.

Not accounting for green slope or speed

The Rule of 12 assumes a flat, medium-paced green. However, in reality, greens can be sloped or have varying speeds. To account for these factors, adjust your rollout expectations and club selection accordingly.

Inconsistent chipping motion

A consistent chipping motion is essential for accurate results. Golfers who struggle with this should work on keeping their hands ahead of the clubhead during the stroke and maintaining consistent tempo.

By addressing these common mistakes, you can successfully apply the Rule of 12 to your chipping game and enjoy better results on the course.

Is the Rule of 12 in Chipping Accurate?

For the most part, the Rule of 12 is accurate in knowing the best golf club to use when chipping. However, you must remember that its accuracy can falter if the conditions aren’t ideal.

For example, if the weather is rainy or windy, air or water resistance can play a major part in how much your ball will remain in the air or roll out. So, you’ll have to make adjustments to the loft of your club and the force of your swing.

The same goes if the spot you’re about to hit the ball from is sloped or uneven, or if the ground is soft and wet.

We’re not saying that the Rule of 12 will give you haywire calculations in such scenarios, just that it won’t be as accurate. Regardless, the more you practice your swings in different settings, the more you can boost your performance and ensure a successful shot in any condition.

what is the rule of 12 in chipping

Benefits of Using the Rule of 12

The Rule of 12 is a valuable technique for golfers of all skill levels, particularly beginner golfers and high handicappers, who are seeking to improve their short game around the greens. By applying this method, players can experience several advantages:


The Rule of 12 eliminates the need for complicated calculations and allows golfers to quickly determine which club to use for chipping or pitching. This can help minimize overthinking and improve decision-making during the game.


Using the Rule of 12 encourages players to develop a consistent stroke for all chip shots. With practice, this can lead to improved control and precision, resulting in a more reliable short game performance.


This method enables golfers to become more versatile around the greens by using various club options to achieve different carry distances and roll-outs. This adaptability can be beneficial in a wide range of playing situations and course conditions.


The Rule of 12 provides a clear and practical approach for golfers to follow during chipping, leading to increased confidence around the greens. With time, players can expect to see more positive results and enjoy a boost in their overall game.

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.

Final Words

The Rule of 12 in chipping is a useful technique that helps golfers understand the relationship between the loft of the club and the amount of roll on a chip or pitch shot. By considering the desired rollout and in-flight distance, players can select the appropriate club and adjust their approach to achieve better results around the green.

Hopefully, you now have all the information you need about how to use this rule, the best way to practice chipping with it, and whether or not it’s accurate.

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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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