The Putt-Chip is the simplest of all chip techniques, and yet it is a very useful finesse shot for golfers of all levels.
For the novice golfer, for the golfer who is not yet confident with his chipping technique, or as a “go to” shot under extreme pressure, the Putt-Chip will give you the confidence to attack the hole from close to the green, even from an imperfect lie – giving you far more flexibility than just reaching for your putter.
And if you are intent on becoming a short-game master, who wants options for every conceivable situation, the Putt-Chip is another shot in your arsenal that will help to enable your offensive mind-set – you are, after all, the golfer who is trying to hole everything!
Get the Ball Rolling as Soon as Possible… Really?
Traditional golf instruction suggests that it is desirable to play a chip shot that gets the ball rolling on the green as quickly as possible, so that the ball rolls out to the hole like a putt, since this offers the greatest margin for error.
This is, essentially, what the Putt-Chip is for, and, under certain circumstances, it can indeed reduce the complexity of the shot and give you the best chance of getting the ball in the hole.
But to suggest that getting the ball rolling as soon as possible should always be your goal is just nonsense! If your Pitching & Chipping technique is good, playing a low chip doesn’t necessarily make it any less likely to chunk or skull the shot. And what if the green has a tier that you wish to take out of play, or there is a slope that you want to avoid in order to simplify the shot? What if the lie dictates the way you can deliver the club to the ball? What if you just enjoy hitting high, soft pitch shots more than you do low chips?
You should always play to your strengths, trust your instincts and play the shot that you see is the best for the situation in front of you. Walk up to the ball, evaluate the lie, the conditions and the slopes, and go with the shot that you feel is right, the shot you can best visualise rolling into the hole, the shot that you can most confidently commit to – that shot is always the correct choice.
There are often too many variables around the green for teachers to be prescriptive about shot choice. The shot that you see on the day is easier to commit to than the shot you’ve been told you should play, and in golf, as with so many things in life, it is better to be committed than to be correct!
That said, when you have a reasonably clean lie, and when the shot that you wish to play is to carry the ball a short distance and get it rolling, then the Putt-Chip can be ideal.
Why Not the Texas Wedge?
Many golfers instinctively reach for their putter around the green, often out of fear, feeling that it reduces their chance of chunking or skulling the shot and offers the most control. There are situations where this may be the best choice, but for the confident short-game player these are rare.
Using your putter from off the green introduces a number of variables which can be difficult if not impossible to assess. How “sticky” is the fairway? What if the lie is a little sandy or muddy, how will that effect the initial roll? How about the grain of the fringe?
The Putt-Chip can eradicate many of these variables, and so improve your touch around the greens.
What is the Putt-Chip?
As the name suggest, the Putt-Chip is a cross between a putt and a chip. You set up to the ball much like you would a chip, but the swing is dominated by your big muscles and uses very little hand and wrist action, like a putt.
The result is a shot with a very shallow angle of attack and low energy. The ball won’t fly very far and it won’t have much spin. It will carry no more than 5 or 6 yards, and when it lands on the green it will release quickly and roll out to the hole.
This shot requires a clean lie, with very little grass or other matter that will come between club and ball.
How to Play the Putt-Chip
Use a lower-lofted club – nothing with more than about 54 degrees of loft, since high lofts and very shallow swings don’t mix! You may have a favourite club for this shot, such as a 6-iron, but practise with a variety of clubs to determine the mix of carry and roll that you can achieve with each club in a variety of circumstances. Hybrids and fairway woods work really well for this shot.
Grip down on the club all the way to where the handle meets the steel, and take your normal putting grip – see Figure 1.
Address the ball using your standard Pitching & Chipping technique, which will place the ball a little further back in your stance than with a putt, with the shaft leaning a fraction towards the target – see Figure 1.
Choking down on the club and standing closer to the ball will lift the heel of the club slightly off the ground, which is good because it helps to avoid digging the sole of the club into the ground through impact with such a shallow swing. Do not, however, be tempted to hit the ball out of the toe of the club face – for good touch you must consistently strike the ball out of the sweet spot. If you feel any twisting of the club through impact, then you’ve missed the sweet spot and you need to adjust your address position.
Keep your grip pressure very light, but squeeze your elbows together a little to lock in the angles of your arms and shoulders. Maintain this “arms locked in” feeling throughout the swing – see Figures 2 to 4.
Now swing the club with your big muscles, as if you were playing a long lag putt, staying as level as you can and maintaining a smooth rhythm, as you allow your energy to flow to the target as with your standard Pitching & Chipping technique – see Figures 2 to 4.
Your touch with the Putt-Chip, just as with any finesse shot, is dependent on your ability to make the required length of swing while always maintaining the same rhythm. The length of your swing will determine the total distance (carry + roll) of the shot with the chosen club in the given situation, and the loft of the chosen club will determine what fraction of this total distance is carry – lower loft equals less percentage carry and more roll. Choose a club that will carry the ball onto the green, and a swing length that will get the ball to the hole.
This article forms part of the Golf Loopy Pitch & Chip like a Champion series, the sensational new pitching and chipping game improvement system that will help you to improve every aspect of your performance around the greens. The improvements will be dramatic, and they will be permanent.