How to improve your chipping strategy

GM Top 25 coach Andrew Reynolds offers advice on how to improve your chipping strategy

GM Top 25 coach Andrew Reynolds offers advice on how to improve your chipping strategy and success rate by simply making the right choices around the green

Success around the greens is as much about decision-making and strategy as technique. Allow me to explain...

1) The golden rule

When you’ve missed the green, you need to be able to get it up and down as often as possible to keep your score together. But it’s not just about technique – you also need to make the right decisions. My golden rule of greenside chipping strategy is this: if you can putt it, putt it; if you can’t putt it, chip it; if you can’t chip it, pitch it; and finally, if you can’t pitch it, lob it. The lob should be your ‘last resort’ as it offers the least margin for error in the execution.

2) If you can putt, putt it

If you’re only just off the green on a tight smooth fringe, you should have no hesitation in reaching for your putter. The putter requires no interaction with the turf, so it’s a very simple choice.

3) If you can’t putt, chip it

If you’re a little further off the green, and the ground is too uneven to putt with any certainty, use a club that will carry the ball to the edge of the green and let it run out. This might be a 7-iron, but equally, a lot of golfers use hybrids these days for this kind of shot. Try both and see which works best.

4) If you can’t chip, pitch it

If you’re further away again facing a slightly harder shot off more of a slope or from not quite such a good lie, you’ll need to hit it a little harder and carry it a bit further to get it on the edge of the green. This is where I would switch to my gap wedge and play a slightly higher-flying pitch shot.

5) If you can’t pitch, lob it

Finally, if your ball has found a poor lie, or you have bunkers, mounds or hollows to carry, you’ll need to play a fuller lob shot, in which you accelerate more through the ball and hit it higher, perhaps even carrying it almost all the way to the flag. For me, this is a job for my 58˚ lob wedge.

6) Don’t just practise your strengths

You will often need all four of these shots at some stage in every round, so it’s worth heading to the chipping green, finding different slopes and lies, and working hard on each type. Beware though - we golf instructors often observe our pupils only really practising the shots they like and are reasonably proficient at. Those shots are unlikely to cost you the most - it’s the ones you find harder that you really need to practise. So, if you’re determined to get your handicap down, work on every kind of shot so you can get it close enough to the flag to get up and down more often.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response