Tips from the Pro

Jay Wilson

This month we are going to tackle some of the shots around the greens. When playing on the course and you hit your ball just off the green, you have options! First question you should ask yourself is, “Can I putt the ball toward the hole?” If so, that should be your play. It allows for the least amount of risk. If the fringe is bumpy, too long, or you have a sprinkler head in your way, putting might not be the best option. So the next question to ask is, “Can I chip this? If I can’t chip, then I’ll probably need to pitch the ball.”

Chipping—By definition, chipping is a shot that has minimum air time, maximum roll. This is versus pitching, which is maximum air time and minimum roll. When chipping, we want the ball position to be in the back of your stance (closer to the right foot for a right-handed golfer), weight leaning toward your target, and hands pressed forward to deloft the club. Then we’re just going to basically make a putting stroke to carry the ball onto the green and have it roll to the target. If you ever get caught in thick rough around the green and are worried about using your wedge, pull out your hybrid club and hit it like a chip shot, and the ball will pop right out.

Pitching—By definition, pitching is maximum air time, minimum roll. When pitching the ball, we want to have the ball in the center of our stance, 50/50 weight distribution. In pitching the ball, it’s going to be a higher shot than with chipping. It’s going to need more energy, so accordingly we’re going to need a bigger swing.

Here are some of the reasons for selecting whether to chip or pitch.

Always chip the ball if:

* you have poor lie

* you have hard greens

* you have a downhill lie

* the wind has an influence on the shot

* you are under stress

You probably want to pitch the ball if:

* the lie is good

* you have an uphill lie

* greens are soft

* obstacles in your way

Try a Par 3 Course

Par 3 courses are great to develop your understanding of the game and your course management skills. You’ll spend less time looking for golf balls and you’ll begin to hone those all-important short game skills.