Today, I want to discuss one of those issues as a coach that just drives me nuts. It is something I see way too often among junior golfers, but I’ve found players of all ages guilty of this sin. A growing number of players use just one club to hit their chip shots, no matter the distance, pin location, or the lie. I find it mind-boggling that you would limit yourself to one club out of the 14 from which you get to choose. In my opinion, its like saying that when I’m 150 yards I only hit my 9 iron, regardless of the wind condition. Nobody does that, so why limit yourself around the green?
Personally, I think this issue has evolved from the growing popularity and accessibility of the lofted wedge. If you look at older sets of clubs, you will notice that very few of them have anything that looks like the wedge pictured left. There is no question that the evolution of this sort of club has made lots of shots around the green easier. Negatively, however, is that it is the only clubs tons of players grab to hit a chip shot. For whatever reason, people fear going past the hole much greater than they fear leaving it short. Subsequently, this makes the one-club chip much more popular. Unfortunately, by not being creative you limit the opportunity to hit it close and make a simple up and in. The first thing I cover with my students is the importance of getting the ball on the ground. It is so much easier to control a ball that is rolling than one flying in the air. From there, one can determine proper club selection. Let me present a few scenarios:
1. Your ball lays 3 yards off the green with 20 yards between you and the pin
- For this shot, I would grab my 8 iron and hit a bump and run in which the ball barely leaves the ground.
2. Your ball lays 10 yards off the green with 20 yards between you and the pin
- For this shot, I would grab my PW and pitch the ball just over the fringe and let it roll the rest of the way to the hole.
3. Your ball lays 10 yards off the green, 20 yards from the pin, and a bunker between you and the green
- For this shot, I would grab my SW and hit a high shot that lands closer to the pin with little roll.
I have just demonstrated how you can hit three different shots with three different clubs from relatively the same distance. Each of my examples assumed the ball laid perfectly on the ground. Can you imagine the options different lies present? I am confident that I could have hit each of those shots inches from the hole. I couldn’t say that if I used the SW for all three. I know the Phil Mickelson flop shot is sexy but let’s be honest – even he doesn’t hit it from everywhere. So, the next time you are on the putting green, be sure to bring your whole golf bag and experiment. Remember, the most important thing is getting it close to the hole and you are free to do whatever it takes. Best of luck and see you on the lesson tee!!!