The weather is changing here. The grass on the courses has slowed or stopped growing. When the courses aren’t covered in winter snow here in Utah and the grass is dormant, the lies in the fairways or anywhere there’s short grass, can be very tight.
Chipping with higher lofted wedges
I usually like to chip with my 56 degree wedge, put the ball back in my stance, close the face and hit a descending blow to get it running. If I need the ball to run less or carry more, I’ll use my lob wedge (60). But the tighter the lies and the rustier I get (from playing less due to the weather), the tougher these shots become to execute.
Chipping with mid-irons
Yesterday on the 6th hole (with my opponents pressing me I might add) I had one of these very tight lies. I had a tough tight lie and no green to work with. I was about 10-15 feet short of the green on this par-3, and there was a front pin. Having never even practiced this shot I grabbed my 8-iron and decided I’d just put a putting stroke on it. I figured the amount of loft on the club would get the ball in the air just enough to carry the ball over enough of the short grass, yet roll the ball like a putt when it got to the green. I assumed my putting stance and grip, choking down on the club to about where my normal putting grip would be on my putter.
My opponents watched in horror and amazement as the low shot bounced twice in the short grass, landed on the fringe and rolled just like a perfect putt straight to the hole. My pal Arnie dropped his putter on the ground and threw his hands up in the air as my 8-iron chip dropped center cut in the hole for birdie.
I turned to them and said “I guess I’ll be using that shot more.”
Later in the round on #11 I had a similar scenario. Once again I was just short of the green with a front pin. I hit the same shot with my 8-iron. I didn’t drain this one for birdie, but did leave myself an easy 1-footer to save par.
If the ground is smooth enough and you can roll the ball a bit around the greens, it may be easier to put a more pendulum-like stroke on a mid-iron rather than trying to make perfect contact with a higher lofted club. If you’re like me and sometimes have trouble chipping, try hitting some running shots with a lower lofted club and a putting stroke. It is very hard, almost impossible, to blade or hit this shot fat.