You are not far off the green, but perhaps too far away to use your putter due to unpredictable fringe that might slam on the brakes if your rolling ball gets caught up in it. But maybe the feel and confidence in your chipping game is a little off today; chunking or thinning a chip is not the scoring shot you are after. What to do? Why not combine your more reliable putting stroke with a more lofted chipping club that will get the ball up off the ground and then rolling to the pin. It’s the best of both worlds.
Michele Trimarche, a PGA/LPGA teaching professional at Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J., provides five helpful tips utilize your putting stroke with irons to improve your scoring chances from off the green.
When the ball is off the green, sometimes you don’t know whether to chip or putt. I like to teach my students to combine the two by putting with an iron — either a pitching wedge, 9-iron, or 7-iron, depending on where the flagstick is located. The chip-putt lifts the ball over the fringe, like a chip shot, however the ball rolls out softly like a putt once it lands.
There are some simple tips to follow to utilize this hybrid shot and improve your short game.
- At address, hold the club more upright so the heel of the club is lifted off the ground slightly. This helps to avoid catching the grass.
- Grip down on the club and positioned more in the palms of your hands, as you do when you putt. This will help with more control and keeping the clubface square.
- Narrow and slightly open your stance and play the ball back in your stance with the clubface square to the target.
- Your weight and handle of the club are slightly forward towards the target.
- Make a short pendulum-like stroke with your arms and shoulders keeping your wrist firm.
I suggest you sharpen your touch by practicing with these three clubs — pitching wedge, 9-iron and 7-iron — both around the putting green and during play. Switch between them at random to develop feel and a scoring system that produces a range of shots that work for you.
With the 7-iron the ball will fly low and run while the wedge produces a softer pop-up shot that stops quickly — perfect when the hole is cut close to the green. The 9-iron provides a happy medium. Remember to keep the swing equal distance back and equal distance though with one consistent rhythm regardless of the club you are using. The club will dictate the distance, not the swing.