Omni La Costa’s Championship Course near San Diego has been a longtime nemesis of mine. No matter how well I’ve been playing at any given time, my game turns to mush when I step up to the first tee on this course that will soon undergo an overhaul by renowned course architect Gil Hanse. Usually my game falls apart around the greens. But that’s nothing new, as my chipping is awful. For years, I’ve resorted to putting from literally anywhere I can. No kidding: I’ve putted from up to 85 yards out.
While the green-side areas at La Costa look fast and smooth at a glance, they can quickly eat up rollers – like my putts from the fringe. Thus, I think that’s particularly been my biggest obstacle here. Which is why I was super excited to try and tame it with Ping’s new ChipR club that’s a putter/wedge hybrid. Inspired by the brand’s Chipo club from the 197s, this has a stainless steel clubhead, a putter’s 35-inch shaft length and lie angle, and the 38.5-degree loft of a 9-iron. It’s designed to be used on shots of 40 yards or less around the green with a putting stroke. That’s supposed to yield bump-and-run style shots that ensure distance control and consistency.
“Golfers who fear chunking or blading their chip shots are really going to benefit,” says John K. Solheim, Ping’s CEO and President. “Our research indicates that one-third of golfers who tested the ChipR saw better results compared to a traditional wedge. A putting-style stroke takes a lot of the margin for error out of chip shots and is more comfortable for a lot of golfers. We recommend applying the same amount of force for a putt of the same distance. A lot of golfers will be amazed at how easy it is to use and more importantly, the number of strokes they’ll be saving.”
So that’s exactly what I did. It took me all of four holes to get used to. I found it to be an excellent replacement for using my putter off the green, and not as effective as a wedge replacement. That said, the longest distance I tried it with was from 61 yards. I first put a lob wedge about 20 feet from the pin. Then I used the ChipR and placed it 7.5 feet from the cup. The longer the shot, the more an iron stroke you should probably take with it. But that said, it was super amazing from the fringe – commonly helping the ball land closer than I could have with a putter – which shocked me because I think I’m a pretty decent putter.
What sold me was on one hole, I had a 30-yard shot from a bed of wood chips. The first 20 feet were all wood chips. I used the ChipR and the ball launched easily over the top of the wood chips, hit the green fringe not too hot, and then landed about four feet from the pin. There’s no way on Earth I could have ever shot that with a wedge or a putter. In fact I probably would have picked up and dropped it someplace for a penalty stroke.
I’m not promising you this club will lower your scores, but it definitely puts you in a better position every time you use it to score better on that particular hole. The rest is up to you. It sells for $195 with a steel shaft, and $210 with graphite.