Putt or Chip? Get creative around the greens...
In memory of the king, and this week's AP Invitational, I thought some short game advice from one of golf's best player to ever play the game would be fitting. This is an area many golfers struggle with - and it's a topic I'm asked about frequently. Arnold would argue that a poor putt from the fringe or approach often results in a better result than your average (or even sometimes, good) chip shot. The King wasn't just talking to the average Joe... this was advice he lived by around the greens. Arnold was a big fan of using the flat stick, and for good reason.
A true, "bump-and-run" chip shot, is a very simple stroke. The problem is, it's not flashy or fun. And it's not something we see weekend after weekend on TV (European Tour players are more apt to play the ball along the ground). An "American" chip shot, or a shot with a high-lofted wedge requires more moving parts. Anytime we introduce great motion - or more levers - we increase the opportunity for error. Aside from additional loft (which makes solid contact more difficult to achieve), we are required to add wrist hinge and a lengthier stroke in order to pull off, what we've come to know as, the chip shot.
Option 1b, and a slightly better alternative, is to use a bump-and-run. Ideally, this shot will be made with a slightly lower lofter club than the one we used in the previous chip shot - this time we'll use something more like a 48*, Pw, 9i, 8i, etc. We do this to maximize the time that the ball spends on the ground and minimized the length of stroke and moving parts we need in order to get the ball to the hole. The idea, here, is to bump the ball off the turf - either out of a bad lie or over some questionable ground or obstacle - and get the ball rolling on the ground as quickly as possible toward the hole.
Option 2 - and my recommendation for situations around the green - would be to use your putter. Now I understand, there are times where shot 1 and 1b are actually your best options with the highest chance of success. I'm not talking about the times when you have sprinkler head in your way. I'm not talking about that other time when you have uneven grass with patches of grain laying into you. And I'm not talking about the two weeks a year that the green approaches have been aerated with large holes in the ground every 4 inches. I'm talking about the true, consistent lie on the fringe or green approach that we encounter round after round (and sometimes hole after hole) - I should also mention that I wouldn't advise the putt if you're more than 4 or 5 paces off the putting surface. By using a putter we are eliminating excess motion. No more wrist hinge, no more body rotation, no more weight transfer, and a much lower chance of poor contact (you're not going to flub or catch one thin with a putter). Make your best judgement for speed based on how much fringe you're putting through, and make a smooth putting stroke - accelerating the club down your target line.
Give a try around the practice green. If I had to guess, ole' Arnold was probably right. Here's to the King!