What is the safest club to chip with?

Published:

Wedge, 7-iron or Odyssey's new chipper? 

Any short game coach will tell you that keeping the hands quiet is key to a good chipping strike.

Yet many club golfers can’t seem to do anything about their busy hands around the green. So step forward the X-Act Tank Chipper, a club built by the boffins at Odyssey to help you make effective contact, even with your wrists hell-bent on sabotage.

Unconventional in its looks and feel, the chipper resembles a putter in its appearance and use, and even features an oversized SuperStroke grip to keep your hands muted.

TOP STORIES

Which Mizuno JPX900 irons are right for you?

Five of the best golf GPS watches

How to choose the best golf ball for your game

Factor in the hybrid-like sole to promote a more consistent contact and you’ve got the perfect combination to guard against the dreaded duff.

But the question for any chronic duffer looking for salvation is can you justify making room in the bag for what many may consider a one-trick pony?

To help answer that question, we took four readers to Ufford Park Golf Club to find out how it measures up against a 7-iron and pitching wedge.

We picked three positions around the 18th green and got them hitting five shots per club.

Here’s how they all got on...

Tom Wade - What is the safest club to chip with?

Tom Wade HCP 4

Tom seemed quite taken with the half putter, half chipper-like design at first, but couldn’t quite get to grips with the launch angle, nor using a putting technique for a chip shot.

He expected to perform best with the pitching wedge as a 54º wedge is his preferred choice, but he actually performed better with the 7-iron overall.

The results (average distance to hole)

10 yards
7-iron (3ft 5in); PW (5ft 1in); Chipper (3ft 2in)

15 yards
7-iron (4ft 8in); PW (3ft 4in); Chipper (6ft 2in)

20 yards
7-iron (4ft 6in); PW (5ft 4in); Chipper (9ft 2in)

The verdict

It feels really nice off the face, but it actually plays more like a 9-iron or a pitching wedge because the shaft is straight. It doesn’t go as low as you would expect either, and that was my biggest problem.

I really struggled to hit the chips hard enough, especially on longer shots. I wouldn’t buy one personally, but I can see the attraction because the wider sole is very forgiving and makes it easier to chip with compared to a wedge.

James Ovenden - What is the safest club to chip with?

James Ovenden HCP 15

James bases his chipping style on feel and ordinarily uses a high-lofted club to pitch the ball just before the hole. It was no surprise, therefore, that he thrived with the pitching wedge, but struggled to gauge the pace of the greens with the 7-iron. His distance control with the Odyssey chipper was a bit inconsistent as well.

The results (average distance to hole)

10 yds
7-iron (3ft 8in); PW (3ft 3in); Chipper (3ft 7in)

15 yds
7-iron (5ft 3in); PW (4ft 1in); Chipper (4ft 8in)

20 yds
7-iron: (5ft 8in); PW (5ft); Chipper (6ft 4in)

The verdict

Compared to using a 7-iron or pitching wedge, you do have to commit to the shot a lot more with a chipper. It says it’s 37 degrees, but it actually feels like the loft is much higher. On the plus side, I really liked the technique of using a putting stroke because it eliminates a lot of risk with a chip shot.

The question is whether it’s worth taking another club out of the bag to stick this one in. It’s the best chipper I’ve ever used by a mile, but it is one-dimensional and that’s why I can’t justify sacrificing another club. But I can still see people using it because there’s almost an assurance that you are going to get a clean contact every time. 

Paul Samain - What is the safest club to chip with?

Paul Samain HCP 16

Paul warned us that his short game is the weakest part of his game and his chipping action is the root cause.

His wrists were very active using the wedge and 7-iron, whereas he appeared much more comfortable using a putter-like stroke with the chipper. The strike was the most consistent, too, despite occasionally misjudging the distance.

The results (average distance to hole)

10 yds
7-iron (9ft 5in); PW (7ft 9in); Chipper (9ft 6in)

15 yds
7-iron (8ft 4in); PW (4ft 9in); Chipper (3ft 2in)

20 yds
7-iron (7ft 2in); PW (9ft 8in); Chipper (7ft 7in)

The verdict

I think, with practice, the chipper could certainly work for me. It’s quite an attractive club and I really like the method of using a putting stroke and letting the loft do the rest. You are far less likely to duff a chip that way because the design makes it so much easier to hit.

Most high handicap golfers lose their shots around the green so I think any club which simplifies the process would be worth having in the bag. It’s just a case of getting used to how hard you need to hit it, because everything else is done for you. I would definitely consider buying one.

Tom Wake - What is the safest club to chip with?

Tom Wake HCP 10

Tom always uses a wedge to chip with and the results showed why. He holed two of his first five chips with the pitching wedge, but struggled to replicate the same accuracy with the other two clubs.

All but one of his 15 shots with the chipper ended up short, and he seemed to struggle with how the ball released off the face.

The results (average distance to hole)

10 yds
7-iron (2ft 9in); PW (8in); Chipper (2ft 4in)

15 yds
7-iron (5ft); PW (4ft 9in); Chipper (6ft)

20 yds
7-iron (5ft); PW (3ft 3in); Chipper (4ft 6in)

The verdict

The alignment line is really useful for accuracy, but I like to think of the chip as a delicate shot and the head is just too chunky. It’s certainly harder to use and judge when there’s more grass between the ball. It’s fine from the fringe, but the larger size of the face means it gets caught up in the rough quite easily.

The good thing is that if you do fluff it, the ball still goes a reasonable distance, but I just found the contact a bit too unpredictable. I prefer using a wedge because of the ability to control a chip using spin.

TG verdict

We’ve been crying out for a manufacturer to bring the chipper into the 20th century and Odyssey have done that with the looks and the concept of the £109 X-Act.

The idea of a supersized grip and using a putting stroke is perfect to cure the chipping yips, but the appeal is limited to golfers who lack short game confidence.

It’s hard sticking to the 14-club limit to make space for a club that serves only one purpose – unless your score is frequently ruined by duffed chips. If that’s you, try one.