We will first talk about our options. Your first choice should be to putt the ball. If you can't putt it for whatever reason, your next option is to chip.
A chip shot is a low-running shot that has a low trajectory, hits the ground, releases and rolls like a putt to the hole.
For this shot, the ball position is very important; it should be aft of your center closer to your back foot. Your weight should be on your front foot. This is to ensure that there is very little body motion. Your hands, along with the handle of the club, should be slightly ahead of your navel.
The stroke itself should primarily be done with the arms and shoulders, with very little wrist break. The stroke is very much like a putting stroke. You still want to feel as though you strike the ball with a descending blow so the club bottoms out and you feel the turf.
Remember, there is lots of preference in golf. You may chose to play this shot from a narrow, open stance, or you may elect to play from a conventional address position. You should let the distance you have remaining to dictate the club you use to chip with. As a rule of thumb, you want minimum airtime and maximum ground time with a chip shot. Choose the club that will give you enough loft to take the long grass or trouble area out of play and then roll to the hole like a putt.
I would say you can chip with any club beginning with a pitching wedge and going all the way up to a three-wood. (Sand wedges and drivers are a little difficult). Again, let the remaining distance determine the club you use. Fairwoods and hybrids are becoming more and more popular to chip with because the wider sole stops you from sticking the club in the ground and chunking the shot. It takes a little getting use to, but be patient and practice with these clubs, and soon you will have another option in the bag.
As I mentioned in an earlier article on the shot game, having options are critical to a great short game. In the next column, we will discuss the pitch shot, and there is a difference in the two shots.
Tim Peightal is a PGA pro, general manager and director of golf at Pelican Bay Country Club - north and south courses in Daytona Beach. He also owns Summit Driving Range in Port Orange. Mr. Peightal can be reached at (386) 304-4774 or by sending an e-mail to GypsyPro12@ aol.com.