To Putt or Not to Putt?

THAT is the question.

When we find ourselves close to the green with a touchy short shot to get the ball close to save par (or bogey or double) an automatic question comes to mind. Do I chip this or try to putt it in?

Chipping is the more difficult of the two possibilities. Pick your head up or do something funny with your hands and you might stub the ground behind it for a ball that never even leaves the rough. Pick your head up (yes this one sin is responsible for a plethora of possible mistakes) or swing too fast and you might hit it thin and blade it all the way across the green to the other side. Given those two frightening and embarrassing possibilities putting from off the green is quite attractive.

Indeed, chipping is one of the hardest things to get really good at doing. You see many professionals, especially on links-style courses, putting from off the green. I have a friend who plays only for fun and when in New York, which has many hilly courses, she laments not being able to putt from the fairway. A variety of methods have been developed to help people work around this problem. There is even a special club called a “chipper” which looks like half iron-half putter. It has 37 degrees of loft (about equal to an 8 iron) and is designed to help you better execute those pesky little greenside shots.

My solution when it comes to chipping is to take risk out of the equation when it does matter but to practice making the shot when it doesn’t matter.

Therefore, if it is important and I am playing in a tournament, or with people I don’t want to screw up in front of, I will putt from the fringe or even the rough if I can get good contact with the putter. However, if I am playing for fun or with friends or trying to gear up for something I will play the shot “like I should.”

That’s the safe route, of course, a tact that may or may not work for you. You could choose to always putt when you can or always chip when you’re off the green. That way you’ve taken the question out of the equation; and you know what you’re going to do regardless of the circumstance. Whatever you decide be consistent.

Most importantly, when you step up to the ball be %100 committed and confident. No matter how much skill or practice you have the shot is not likely to come off great if you’re still waffling and undecided over top of the ball.

Happy Chipping! or Happy Putting!♣