When it comes to amateur players, this is one of the age-old questions out there. When you are on the short grass around the green, you have the choice to either chip it or putt it. This is a debate that many players struggle with. They tend to go back in forth between the two options, depending on how they are feeling at that moment in time.
There are a number of different factors that should go into the decision process to make this choice a lot easier for you. When you’re debating whether or not you’re hitting the right club on a particular shot, you are going to be more distracted and a lot more likely to strike the ball poorly. It is better to be 100 percent decisive on the golf course and fully back yourself with every shot you take.
What does the empirical evidence show?
Over the years, it has been shown that the less loft you use for your short shots, the closer you will chip the ball to the hole.
When you are on these greenside positions, the less elevation you are using the better the result will be for the average amateur golfer. The pros can get away with playing high lofted shots from anywhere around the green, but these are often too precise for the amateur player.
Usually, the grass around the green will be very short and the club can often bounce off the turf, causing you to thin the ball over the green. By playing a bump and run with an 8 iron, or even using your putter, you will be ensuring that you get a clean strike on the ball.
What variables come into play for each specific situation?
So now you have narrowed your choice down to a bump and run or a putt. You need to look at what sort of lie you have, what sort of quality grass your ball is on, as well as what is in between you and the hole.
The direction of the grain is also important. If it is angled towards the hole, the putter is usually the right choice. It will not be excessively slowed down by the longer grass and it will roll smoothly towards the hole. If the grain is against the ball, then the chip shot is your better option. The ball will get slowed down and knocked off course if using the putter.
You also have to consider how confident you are with both of the shots. If you haven’t been hitting your long putts well all day, you may want to go with the bump and run option or vice versa. At the end of the day, the decision comes down to how confident you are at executing the shot. If in doubt, go with the putter.
How to hit the bump and run
For the bump and run, you almost use a putting stroke. You simply rock the shoulders and have very little wrist hinge. This removes any other moving parts from the swing, making it very hard for things to go wrong. The length of the backswing and follow through should be roughly the same and weight should be distributed towards your front foot.
How to hit your putter from off the green
Once you have nailed down your line, you need to back yourself decisively. Many players take too long over the shot, so it is better to pick your spot first time and hit it. You will have to adjust the pace of the putt depending on how much fairway grass you need to cover, as the ball will roll slower over this surface.
Your stance will be the same as normal but you will need to lengthen your backswing a bit more than usual and accelerate through the ball. Your wrists should be rigid throughout the stroke and you should avoid flicking at the ball. Finally, make sure you keep your head down and don’t peak up too early to see where the ball has gone.
— Andrew O’Malley