Chip or Pitch?

Say you’re in the fairway about 140 yards from the pin, which is tucked behind a bunker on the left. You have two choices. You can play for the center of the green, or you can draw the ball into the pin. There isn’t much else you can try. And generally, a straight shot to the center will never be a bad choice.

When you’re ten yards off the green and the entrance is clear, it’s different. Would you run the ball to the pin all the way along the ground? Fly the ball all the way and stop it dead? Fly it in and let it run a little? Fly the ball to the edge of the green and have it run the rest of the way? And if you have all these shots at your disposal, which one should you hit?

This decision can be paralyzing if you don’t have a system, a method, figured out in advance. When you play is the time to play. Work out your options some other time.

This is what I would suggest.

First, check the lie. Fluffy lie, all options are open. Tight lie, chip.

Second, assuming the lie is favorable, check the ball-edge of green-pin distances. If ball to edge of green is greater than edge of green to pin, fly the ball. How far? To halfway between the edge of the green and the pin. Let the ball run out the rest of the way.

If ball to edge of green is less than edge of green to pin, run the ball on. Have the ball land a few feet past the edge of the green, and use a club that will let it run the rest of the way.

The short game is simplified if you master a few basic shots and have a clear idea when to use each one. Standing over the ball, you want to be able to concentrate on hitting the shot, rather than wonder whether this is the right shot to hit.

Practice these shots, commit to their rules of use on the course. You might hit fewer shots right up next to the pin, but in the long run you will get the ball closer more often. In the meantime,

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