Chippers versus Putters

Following my daughter – a pretty fair high school golfer – around the golf course a few years back, I was impressed with the way she landed on her own approach to lobbing the ball onto the green from the fringe to around ten yards out. I’m from the old “7-iron” school of pitching while her high school golf course insists she use her pitching wedge. After trying both approaches what did the kiddo settle on? As is so often the case, she decided to take chart her own course and use the club that’s sometimes referred to as a Texas Wedge – her putter. Which approach is best? Frankly, I don’t think it matters. What matters is getting the ball close enough to the pin that she can one-putt it in, and all three methods will accomplish that.

Dice influencing is really no different. A “pitching wedge” tosser would most likely loft the dice high in the air, landing them near the back wall where they would die with relatively little bounce back. A “7-iron” shooter would toss at a much lower trajectory, landing the dice further out and rolling them to the back wall. And our putter, of course, would more or less bowl the dice to the back wall with virtually no loft. Again, all three strategies work. Sometimes.

Depending on the condition of the greens, there are times when one approach to getting the ball near the cup may be better than another. Are the greens fast or slow? What is the condition of the grass around the fringe? Is a fire ant mound considered grounds under repair? Are there any other obstacles to get over or around? Is the dice table hard or soft, bouncy or dead? Is it felt or microfiber? How many chips are on the layout? All of these things come into play.

Some golfers simply purchase a club specifically designed to use in these situations. A chipper-putter combines the loft of a wedge with the look, length and stiffness of a putter. You hit it about the same as my daughter hits her putter from the fringe, but instead of having to plow through the taller grass the ball gains enough loft to clear the fringe, then roll to the cup. It’s a neat club that won’t get you into too much trouble as long as you have legal grips on it.

I recommend that DI’s have their own version of the chipper in their bag of tricks. Use it for your base-line toss if you wish. I always start out with the dice on the deck. My “chipper” flies no higher than the top of the rail and the dice land eight to sixteen inches from the back wall, then tumble to the wall, his and (hopefully) die. No, that toss won’t work on every table – just as the same club won’t work for you every time on the golf course. But you can adjust subsequent tosses based on your observation of how the dice behave when they hit the layout and the number of chips you must navigate over our around to get to the back wall.

Remember, whether on the golf course of at the tables, practice will improve your game.