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The chipper is a curious golf club that isn’t widely used throughout the game. Is it a putter? A wedge? Or is it an iron?
It’s kind of like a hybrid between a wedge and a putter, and it makes life in and around the green a lot easier for beginners and high handicappers, that much is for certain!
To help you decide whether or not you should use a chipper, we explain everything we know about this sidelined golf club below.
We also tell you how to ensure a chipper is USGA legal, so you can use it when you’re playing with your friends and participating in the monthly medal at your club.
Is it Legal to Play with a Golf Chipper?
A golf chipper is legal for competition use providing it is neither fitted with a putter grip nor two-sided. Chippers are regarded by the USGA as irons and most carry a similar loft to a 7 or 8 iron.
As such, they’re an ideal option for beginners and high handicappers, as they make the process of chipping around the green a little easier. If you want to use a chipper in a competition, you can. Just make sure it is USGA and R&A conforming before you add it to the bag.
Let’s take a look at some of the other things you need to know about using a chipper out on the golf course.
Are Golf Chippers Frowned Upon?
In some circles, it’s fair to say that using a chipper is frowned upon. This is because it’s seen as a gimmick that can help higher handicappers execute more control around the greens.
But ultimately, it’s a legal club and if you benefit from using one, then don’t worry about what other people think!.
If you’re new to the game, using the equipment that will benefit you the most is all you need to worry about.
Whether it’s cavity-backed irons, high-lofted drivers, or chippers, you should equip your bag with golf clubs that improve your game and help you shoot the lowest-possible scores.
Chippers help you play bump and runs in and around the green and they prevent you from experiencing the dreaded chipping yips – what happens when you consistently duff your greenside shots.
They’re also ideal for senior players who have wrist issues and struggle to execute the motion required for short chip shots.
The bottom line with chippers is that while some more established players might scoff at their use, we’d advise you to add one to your bag if you feel it will help your game.
After all, the more confident you feel with your equipment, the lower scores you will shoot.
Are Chipping Irons Legal in Golf?
Yes, chipping irons are completely legal in golf, provided they are neither equipped with a putting grip nor two-sided. The reason that they’re legal is that they’re classified by the USGA and R&A as an iron, just like the others that you carry in your bag.
You can use your chipper when you’re out playing with your buddies or competing in a club competition.
It’s worth remembering that you can only carry 14 golf clubs in your bag at any given time, so if you plan to use a chipper, you will need to replace one of your other wedges or irons.
You can replace any club you like with a chipper, but make sure doing so doesn’t affect other aspects of your game.
Carrying too many clubs in the bag in competition play, results in a two-stroke penalty per hole where the additional club was used, so it’s important to keep an eye on the clubs you have in the bag.
Particularly if you regularly practice with more clubs than you typically use on the course.
While you won’t see many chippers out on tour and at the elite level of the game, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t carry one if you feel like it helps your short game in and around the green.
Can You Putt with a Chipper?
Contrary to popular belief, the rules of golf do not stipulate which club you need to use on the green, meaning you’re entitled to putt with a chipper if you wish. Under the rules of golf, you’re allowed to use any of the fourteen clubs you have in your bag on the green.
While we wouldn’t recommend it, you can use any of your irons, hybrids, or even your driver on the dance floor if you want to mix things up a little!
If you find yourself on the fringe of the green but with a long way to go to the hole, using a chipper is much like using a putter. It’s best to grip the chipper in the same way you hold your putter and execute a putting stroke as you make contact with the ball.
As its name suggests, the chipper then lifts the ball and helps it on the way to the hole.
This is advantageous if you have a long-distance to go or need to elevate the ball over the lie when the grass is too wet.
Providing you spend sufficient time out on the practice ground, you will find that a chipper will help you get the ball closer to the pin from in and around the green.
While we wouldn’t suggest using it instead of a putter on the green itself, it’s undoubtedly handy for bump and run shots from just off the putting surface.
Are Golf Chippers Any Good?
For players who are new to the game or playing off a high handicap, there’s no doubt that chippers can be good and useful. This is because it’s typically easier to produce chip shots, particularly when compared to using an iron or wedge.
It’s difficult to say conclusively whether chippers are good, as they benefit different types of golfers.
Yet for lower handicap players and pros, a chipper doesn’t provide much spin in and around the green, which ultimately affects your ability to control where the ball goes after impact.
It’s for this reason that most players who use chippers are at the start of their golf careers or are struggling with their greenside shots.
Also, as is the case with all golf equipment, some chippers are better than others.
When you’re in the market for a chipper, make sure you go with a trusted brand with great reviews, as you don’t want to end up with a chipper that doesn’t perform as it should.
We recommend Wilson’s Harmonized Chipper, which is available for a great price, too.
Before you invest in a chipper, it’s important to think about why you’re planning to use one. If you’re new to the game and are hoping to improve your short game, then it’s definitely worth a try.
Do Any Pros Use a Chipper?
No, pros are much more concerned with spin and distance control when they’re just off the putting surface, and a chipper doesn’t enable them to dial into the pin in the way that they require. As such, chippers are much more commonly seen in the bags of recreational players and beginners.
We have to be honest, we’ve never seen a PGA Tour pro use a chipper!
This is primarily because these guys are so good in and around the green, that they don’t need the added benefits that chippers provide.
But remember, just because pros don’t use them, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! As we have stressed throughout, if you think a chipper will help you improve your short game, then don’t be afraid to use one.
After all, we should all carry clubs and accessories that will improve our confidence and skill out on the golf course, and if a chipper helps you, then get it in the bag!
Can You Put a Putter Grip on A Chipper?
Yes, you can put a putter grip on a chipper, but you need to be aware that doing so will make the club illegal, meaning you can’t use it in competitions. If you’re only planning to use your chipper on practice rounds or with friends, you can essentially add any grip that you like.
But if you plan on using your chipper when you play in the monthly medal, you will need to stick to a standard grip. As the USGA rules stipulate:
“Chippers are iron clubs, not putters, and therefore must conform with the requirements for woods and irons. For example, chippers may not have a putter grip, two striking faces, or appendages for aiming purposes.”
The reason why some people might choose to add a putter grip to a chipper is that the stroke motion of the shot is very similar to executing a putt.
But as we’ve explained, doing so will render your chipper illegal for tournament use, so it’s probably best to keep its grip as it is to ensure you can carry it in your bag whenever you’re out on the golf course.
Is a Golf Club Chipper Right for Me?
A chipper is an ideal club for beginners and high-handicap golfers to add to the bag, particularly if you’re struggling for form in and around the green.
If you’ve ever used a chipper, you will know that they make those troublesome bump and runs a little easier to execute, and are a great option if you’re suffering from the chipping yips.
Just make sure that your chipper is USGA legal if you plan to use it in competitions, ensuring it has the correct grip and isn’t double-sided.
Otherwise, we hope your chipper helps you lower your scores!