Less Loft For Better Chipping
by Bradley Turner MBA, PGA
Director of Online Golf Instruction
Keiser University College of Golf
Teaching the short game has been a passion of mine for many years. If the goal is to lower your handicap, focusing on the simple chip shots around the green will provide quick and long-term improvement. A large percentage of experienced teaching professionals would agree with the previous statement, yet we just don’t see enough students honing their chipping skills. Why?
The reason must revolve around the ease of the shot in the mind of a golfer. Clearly, any reasonably skilled golfer can hit a quality chip shot…on occasion, as good as a professional on television. Many golfers choose to believe that their chipping game can be close to that of a PGA professional if they only would practice. But their long game is far from the ball striking skills of a tour player, and that is their focus. The fun in golf is the powerful strike of the club against the ball, which is the magnet that addicts golfers. The occasional chip in from off the green is always a welcomed event, but let’s face it, anyone can do that! Golf coaches understand the addiction of a well-struck golf shot, but why not spend a few moments during a practice session on the simple chip shot?
There is a difference in the possibility of a good outcome versus the probability of a good outcome. I have said this hundreds of times, “I understand you are able to chip it close with your lob wedge, but will you”? The possibility is there, but the probability of a good shot is sometimes very low. Students often do not want to hear this pragmatic advice.
With almost 30 years of experience in the education sector of the golf industry, I have conducted numerous performance studies to find out what is happening to the average golfer during a round of golf. This research has consistently identified weaknesses in the average golfer’s short game. This is no surprise to anyone. But what is a surprise is the average golfer’s unique mentality to ignore even the most obvious evidence to their scoring challenges. Simply getting a student to use a less lofted club in chipping around the greens can be a frustrating task for the golf coach, despite findings that lead to a better solution.
In an effort to communicate to students the benefits of less lofted club selections in chipping, I conducted a study during a short game skills assessment. During the chipping portion of the assessment, I asked the student which club they were going to use on a 30-foot chip and then on a 50-foot chip. Both shots were from the short grass just off the green and allowed a student the option to use anything from a lob wedge to a 7-iron.
Here are the findings relative to the club selected:
9 iron 19%
8 iron 12%
7 iron 7%
Here are the scoring results out of a possible 20 points. Tour expectation is 18 points:
8 iron 13.3
7 iron 12.5
9 iron 10.7
See it for Themselves
As a college player, I was guilty of only using the sand wedge around the greens. My golf coach wanted me to experiment with different clubs, but I just believed I was really good with my favorite club! After graduation, I turned professional and began teaching golf. When working with beginners, I always demonstrated the use of a 7-iron for chipping. I did not want a beginner to put a sand wedge in their hands when a 7-iron is much easier for them. Through these demonstrations, I started to see for myself the benefit of using a less lofted club for chipping. It was so much easier; why didn’t I listen to the “ole golf coach?” Today, I use all the clubs, from a lob wedge to a 7-iron around the greens and an occasional hybrid if the conditions are right. If this article doesn’t convince you to try less lofted clubs in chipping, just go test it for yourself. Be honest about the results and give yourself a few mulligans to get started. In short order, you will see for yourself the benefits of using an 8-iron instead of your sand wedge!
If you’d like to study with Bradley Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact the College of Golf today.