Chipping from the fringe ranks closely behind putting as one of the most important scoring shots. Attention to chipping technique and adequate practice will enable you to hit the ball in the hole or close enough for a tap-in putt. This will improve not only your score but also your putts-per-hole average. There are a number of decisions that need to be made when chipping from the fringe. Your goal should be to assess all variables, then choose the best club and shot to play.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
The most dependable and accurate chip shot from the fringe lands on the green as soon as possible, then rolls toward the hole. You should use your normal putting stroke and brush the grass under the ball. Utilize the loft of the club to get the ball airborne instead of trying to scoop or lift it. Place your hands forward of the ball and keep your wrists in a locked position when hitting the chip. Using a putting stroke with a wedge or other iron will reduce thin and fat chip shots, improving your overall score.
You can use a variety of clubs from the fringe, including wedges, short irons and middle irons. You should practice with each until you are comfortable hitting each one from the fringe. You should select a less-lofted club for longer chips and a more-lofted club for shorter chips. Grip down on the longer clubs so the club length essentially is the same regardless of which club you select.
Assess the slope and speed of the green between the ball and the hole. The combination of slope and green speed will determine which club you choose. You should use a more-lofted club for a long chip if the slope between the ball and the hole is considerably downhill. Conversely, you would use a less-lofted club for a short chip if the slope of the green is significantly uphill.
Determine if there are any obstacles between the ball and the hole. Obstacles could include prominent ridges in the green or fringe that comes into play once your ball lands on the green. If you have obstacles that will make it difficult to judge the speed of the chip, you should hit a flop shot over the obstacle but short of the hole. The distance you land a flop shot will vary based on the speed and slope of the green as well as your ability to put spin on the ball to stop it. The flop shot should be used as sparingly as possible because it is a low-percentage shot compared with the putting technique chip shot.
You should work the ball using a cut or draw technique if you have slope on the green to contend with. For example, if you are a right-handed golfer and the green slopes right to left, you should hit a cut shot so the ball will spin into the slope. The spin of the ball into the slope will cause your chip to roll relatively straight as compared with following the actual slope of the green. This technique not only will enable you to hole-out more chips, it also will keep your missed chips closer to the hole.