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Friday, August 18, 2017

How Far Do Your Chips Fly?

This is a tip I found in Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible. It came from pages 214-215, in section 8.8, No Backspin. Actually, it's a couple of tips -- one Dave mentioned, and one I noticed in the accompanying drawing.

Please note that this book was published in 1999, so pitching wedge lofts may have changed a bit. Nevertheless, this may help some of you chip it closer.

Dave's tip is that if you chip the ball with it placed farther back in your stance, you increase backspin but reduce your accuracy. He set up his little putting robot Perfy and used three ball positions -- centered in his stance, one ball width back and two ball widths back.

What he found is that the ball chipped from the center of Perfy's stance flew higher and rolled straighter after it hit the ground than either of the other two ball positions. That's a useful thing to know -- if you have a choice, a chip shot with less backspin will probably have a better chance of going in than one with more backspin.

Now let me add what I noticed in the drawing, In his illustration, Dave added numbers showing the average carry and roll with each of the ball positions. The numbers are interesting:
  • In the chip from the centered ball position with a PW, the ball carried the same distance that it rolled. In other words, if you carried the ball about halfway to the hole, it would end up very close.
  • And the chip from the ball position that was two ball widths back rolled about twice as far as it carried. In other words, if you carried the ball about a third of the way to the hole, it would also finish very close.
In my opinion, it's pretty easy to mentally divide the distance to the hole in half. That makes this a very simple way to judge how far to carry your chip shot if you center the ball in your stance.

And while it's not quite as easy to estimate one-third of the distance, that two-ball-back position is a useful one if you need to put some backspin on the shot.

So there are a couple of tips that might help you get those chips closer and leave yourself shorter putts. Depending on your PW loft, it might be another club that gets the job done for you. But at least you've got a starting place to experiment.


  1. As I understand my copy of SGB, it says chipping is for within 3 steps of the green surface and played just about centered on your back ankle also.

    1. You're right, Barney -- apparently it's a question of what's most important to you On the individual shot. Dave mentions that ankle-ball placement in section 8.3 when he talks about getting cleaner contact, while I was using section 8.8 about reducing backspin to get a straighter roll. It would be much easier to use the 8.3 tip from a poor lie than the 8.8 tip.