When the ball is 6-10 feet off the green and on a good lie, the chip is pretty easy. If the ball is at that distance but in rough, it’s still an easy shot, but you have to know what you’re doing.
The first thing is to find out how much grass is beneath the ball. Stick your forefinger into the grass near the ball, being careful not to disturb it.
By touching the tip of your finger on the ground, you should be able estimate how far the bottom of the ball is off the ground; that is, by how much the ball is suspended in the grass. There are three possibilities.
1. The ball is resting on top of the grass. This happens if the grass is thick or has strong blades. For this shot, use your 8-iron and hit the ball with your putting stroke. This makes sure you lift the ball off the grass and get it running when it hits the green.
2. The ball is suspended in the middle of the grass. Here, use a sand wedge of 55 or 56 degrees. Hit the shot with your standard chipping stroke. Make sure you follow through. The thickness of the grass will grab the club, so your follow-through will be short, but don’t let the grass win a complete victory. The finger test tells you how deeply into the grass you must swing the club.
3. The ball is all the way down on the ground. Take out your 60-degree wedge. Play the ball back a bit in your stance. The object here is use a steep swing and thump the ground underneath the ball with the sole of the club. Forget about hitting the ball. Just thump the ground in that spot and the ball will pop out. There’s a lot of wrist action in this stroke, not much arm action. The grass will limit the follow-through.
Practice these shots before you try them on the course.