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Friday, June 3, 2011

Chipping with a 7-Iron

It's no secret on this blog that I prefer chipping with a short iron instead of a wedge. Using a wedge has its place -- if you shortside yourself and the flag is cut close to the edge where you are, you have no choice but to throw the ball all the way to the hole and try to stop it.

But most of the time you've got some space to work with. When you do, a short iron is much more forgiving. Because the face of the club is taller, you're less likely to go under the ball and leave it in the rough -- the notorious "chile dip." And you don't have to swing as hard, so your touch is better and you're more likely to get the ball close to the hole.

If there's a trick to this shot, it's that you can do it more than one way. I found this video that gives you a really good view of one way to set up and play it -- a 7-iron chip using a putting stroke:

Here are the important "technique" things to note:
  • The shaft is in line with your forearms. This makes it much easier to use your putting stroke for this shot. (Side note: If you're having trouble with your putting and you aren't holding your putter so its shaft is in line with your forearms, you now know part of your problem. Check my Basic Principles of Good Putting -- this is #4.)
  • The 7-iron is slightly up on its toe. There are other ways to chip with an iron, but this one creates less resistance as the head slips through the rough. You'll need to try a few practice strokes before you try this on the course though; the loft of the club is now at an angle, so you may have to grip the club so the face is slightly open.
  • Of course, you need to make sure that you hit slightly down on the ball.
You can see these things pretty clearly in the video, which is why I like it.

If you've never used this method before but you often find yourself just off the green, this little chipping technique can save you a lot of strokes. It's a great way to let your putting stroke do double duty, and it may even help your putting.


  1. I'm going to start practicing this more because it really does work. I had seen a similar demonstration on The Golf Channel and of course saw you mention a few times. Despite this I still always used to my 60 degree or pitching wedge.

    During my last round, I found myself just off the green but it was a downhill shot. I was afraid that I was going to scull it, so I used my 8-iron, and like the video suggested, treated it like a putt. The ball got up above the fringe and rolled nicely towards the hole for a tap-in.

    My playing partners were impressed. I guess there are not too many amateur golfers that use this technique. I could have used my putter, but my ball was sitting down a little and judging the speed would have been unpredictable coming from such a lie. The loft helped to get it up. I have been really inconsistent with my short game lately, but I think this may save me a couple of strokes a round.

  2. We all do it, Dex. We've all been trained to think that each club should be used for a specific distance -- isn't that why we buy a set of numbered clubs, each designed to be a fairly consistent number of yards longer than the next one?

    In some ways I was lucky. I learned how to play golf using some ancient clubs an uncle gave me. All I had was a 3-wood, 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-irons, and a putter. (And I couldn't hit full shots with the 3 or 5 very well.) As a result, I learned how to hit all kinds of part shots early on, and it really helped me. Even now, from 30 or 40 yards out I'd almost rather chip an 8-iron than hit a wedge.

    It doesn't take a lot of practice because, like I said, the short irons are more forgiving than the wedges. But it sure does give you some good options when you miss the green.