Boy, I bet you have found yourself in this situation before. You have hit two great shots and you have come up a little short of the green and now you have to make a decision. You have a little bit of fringe to go over and then it is a breaking putt on a fast green tilted sideways. What club do you use?
How European Players Choose a Club for Chipping
I am going to suggest that you pay attention to the European golfers who will often go ahead and select their putter for a shot like this because it gives them the highest percentage of getting it close to the hole.
How to Chip With a putter
If we are going to putt off the green in this country just be sure that you have enough follow-through to help it go through the green. So this is a big breaker, I am going to come on in with my putter, take a read, try and find the break and again follow through. Get that club to come through the ball and let it curl right up. There I have left myself about a four-footer underneath the hole. Not a bad option.
Another way to think about it is to say I don't want to putt it because I am not confident that I am going to have enough speed and get it through the hole. I want to chip it. Now you don't need to get very much loft, you can use a pitching wedge or a 9-iron, how about we say we try a nine, that keeps the loft a little low and remember I just want to get it up over here, get it on the green and go.
Two Basic Ways to Chip With a putter:
1. Chip like you putt (Paul Runyon Technique)
If I say there is the putter length, here is the 9-iron, I am going to choke down on this 9-iron and use my putting grip. This is called a single leaver grip and you will notice that when I am doing this there is no wrist break at all. This was made famous by Paul Runyon, who beat Sam Snead in the PGA Championship twice and Sam Snead was out hitting him by a mile, but Runyon could get it up and down.
What Runyon would do, and I am going to give you this view from the side, if I was putting my ball is here and if I take this 9-iron with a putting grip that is too far forward to create a downward stroke. I am just going to blade that ball. What I want to do is create a downward stoke through the ball and the easiest way to do it is to bring your right foot right up against the ball, open up that shaft a little bit. You see how the shaft is leaning towards my left hip and my hands are forward. Now I can do the putting stroke and let me try it here for you.
What we are after is a downward motion, single lever, no wrist break, just your putting stroke but it is a putting stroke that is coming down through the ball. I line this one up for the break, it is opposite my right foot, here we go, and you see how it popped right up on to the green and will nestle right near the hole. That is one way to chip.
2. Make it more of your full swing grip but choke down
Let your club go back with a little bit of wrist cock and you still want the same downward action but you are going to turn your body through the shot. When I come up here see the flat left wrist, but my body is turning through this shot. Again, as in so many things that we have done it is your preference as to what you have the most confidence in. If you are confident with the putter use the putter. If you like to chip like you putt, like Paul Runyon, do that.
3. More of a full stroke, turning through, downward action
This one is a little bit closer than I might play this shot, but here you are ball back, little wrist cock and there is your pitch and bingo it is an easy shot. Give all three a try, don't just stick on one.
See which one you can pull off when you are on the golf course. Putting off the green, chipping like Paul Runyon single lever, or a miniature little swing to get it right in the hole.