When You Should Chip on The Green (and When to Avoid It)
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 12, 2023

Phil Mickelson is up there with the greatest wedge players of this century thus far. He has pulled off some epic escapes in his time, but his flop shot off the putting surface on the 6th at Riviera remains my favorite.

While golfers can chip on the green, the more pertinent question is should you do it. I have set out different situations below which condone and discourage those shots on the green. Let’s take a look.

 

When It Makes Sense to Chip on The Green

Avoiding Obstacles

The biggest pro of chipping on a green is avoiding obstacles, be it a bunker, fringe, double breaks, or rough. The design of some greens causes the fringe or a bunker to stand in your line. If you putt it, you would have to go around the hazard and risk the chance of a 3 or 4-putt.

When you absolutely have to chip from the green, I suggest using a lob or sand wedge. A pitching wedge and gap wedge carry excessive lofts for the green. For starters, you enhance the risk of destroying the green. Secondly, they do not possess enough loft and spin needed for a short chip on the green.

Distance Control

The average golfer seriously struggles to judge the distance of long putts, which is where chipping helps. It may be easier for some to better judge the power of the shot (as Calcavecchia found).

On the contrary, many experts in the game of golf would say a bad putt is better than a bad chip, and I would agree for the most part. Some players are better with a wedge than a putter. They feel they can control their shots and flights because of the loft of the club.

Keeping the ball on the ground exposes it to breaks and undulation of greens, which is overwhelming for an experienced golfer to comprehend, let alone a beginner.

Spin

When you putt the ball, you enjoy topspin. However, limited side spin and no backspin are produced. Therefore, chipping allows you to use the slopes and implement spin for added control.

Excellent Substitute for a Poor Putter

This ties into the distance control advantage. Chipping on the green works for those with a less than desirable putting percentage. Chipping on greens with complex breaks erases those factors and allows you to fly the ball up to the hole and reduce the impact of the slopes.

 

When to Avoid Chipping on The Green

Tight Lie

A tight lie is difficult to play from because you have no turf to work with. You have to strike the ball cleanly and not take any divot. If you catch the ground before the ball, you will chunk your shot. However, if you strike it late, you will hit it thin.

There is no margin for error on these shots. That is what makes them difficult for the average golfer.

Thin Shots

Following on from the tight lie challenge are thin shots. When amateurs attempt to play this shot, they are rightfully so afraid of vandalizing the green that they catch their golf ball thin. As a result, the ball flies low and past the hole.

Chunked Shots

A greenskeeper and club committee’s worst nightmare. The likely result of the average golfer chipping on the green is ripped-up grass. Golfers hit behind it and take out a chunk of the turf to not avoid a thin shot. The result is a shot with minimal spin and distance and a certain double bogey.

Damaged Green

I have touched on it significantly in this post, but chipping on the dancefloor wreaks havoc. This is costly to the golf course, causes additional work for the greenskeeper, and makes you the black sheep of your club.

Think about it. The more times greens need to be repaired, the higher the club’s annual expenses are. You, as the member or regular visitor, cover those costs. It is called increased membership and green fees.

Everyone loses in this scenario.

Erratic Distance Control

A mishit could send your ball flying past the cup or a few feet ahead of you. There is no margin for error on these shots. That is why the results are erratic for casual golfers.

Unhappy Greenskeeper And Members

Finally, you do not want to desecrate a green if you are a social butterfly and desperately seek the approval of others. Being on the wrong side of the powers that be and your fellow members is a miserable endeavor. They are a catty bunch. Keep them happy so that you can keep enjoying the game of golf without drama.

 

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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8