If you’re new to golf, it might be easy to assume that all golf clubs are legal to use on the course. However, golf is a game of rules, so it’s smart to check with the experts before heading to your first tournament.
One club that generates some extra attention is the golf chipper. The “chipper” isn’t a very common golf club. It’s rare that you’ll see an experienced golfer carrying around a chipper wedge, because they are primarily designed for golfers who have trouble chipping the ball correctly.
That being said, many beginners can actually benefit from a chipper while they learn the skill of getting up and down around the green. Though unconventional, some more seasoned golfers play this club to their advantage. But that leads to the bigger question, are golf chippers legal?
Are golf chippers legal?
Yes, a golf chipper is a legal club that can be used at your local golf course and in tournament play. However, there are a few caveats. According to USGA rule, the chipper:
- cannot have a two sided club head
- cannot be fitted with a putter grip
- must have a shaft length somewhere between that of a 7-iron and a putter
The chipper club doesn’t look like a standard golf club and can earn you some strange (or even dirty) looks from other golfers on the course. These sideward glances may be annoying, but rest assured, you can play with this piece of golf equipment and a high handicapper can shave some strokes off their round by employing the chipper golf club near the green.
Let’s continue to clear up any confusion about this golf wedge alternative.
Chippers: Legal or Illegal?
To review, golf chippers are legal to use. However, traditional golfers don’t typically carry a chipper club in their bag. Some experienced golfers falsely assume that these clubs are illegal or may look down on people who use them. Since low handicappers tend to hit their chipping irons well, they may be averse to new ideas or equipment that help less experienced golfers.
However, these unique clubs offer great value for golfers who are open to improving their turf interaction and short game performance. Several reputable manufacturers make their own chippers and sell them alongside their usual golf clubs.
The 3 Best Golf Chippers
When shopping for golf clubs, always look for a disclaimer that states the club does not conform to USGA standards or something along those lines. This will indicate that the club is illegal and therefore should not be used in any official competition.
Most popular golf club manufacturers (think Callaway, Cobra, TaylorMade, etc.) won’t stock unsanctioned clubs, so when you shop with a major brand, you can rest assured that that those clubs are legal for you to use.
A Little Information About the Chipper
Now that we’ve put your mind at ease, let’s discuss what a chipper is. A chipper is a club that has a loft similar to that of an 8 or 9 iron but has the shape of a putter. It is usually accompanied by a shorter shaft and can improve your chip shot.
The chipper is considered a wedge, but the loft is much lower than the other types of chippers. This means that it has been designed to allow your ball to roll quite a bit rather than stopping in the exact spot that it meets the green.
When using a chipper, you’ll want the ball to spend 20% of its time in the air and the rest of the time rolling along the green. This takes a bit of practice to perfect, but once you get the hang of using the chipper, you can fully reap its benefits.
If you don’t want to use the unique chipping wedge, you can also achieve the same results with a 7, 8 or 9-iron. However, this is much more difficult than using a chipper, which is why the latter is excellent for beginners.
Why use a chipper?
You’ll be using your chipper around the green for a number of reasons. When hitting the golf ball, it will respond with a bump and run rather than a high trajectory and short distance. Basically, you’ll use the chipper when you need a wedge with a lower loft.
The sand wedge and lob wedge are excellent wedges, but they both come with higher lofts that can be more difficult to use. A chipper, on the other hand, will almost always have a better miss than a higher lofted wedge.
Wedges are used for longer shots and to chip the golf ball over an obstacle or get it to stop more accurately where you want it. This means that they are excellent clubs to use around the hole when you want better accuracy than your iron could offer you.
While a sand or lob wedge will put more height on your ball, the chipper might allow you to experience the best of both worlds – the distance of the iron with the accuracy of the wedge.
You can also use the chipper to quickly get your ball out from behind obstructions such as tree stumps. Use the chipper to remove your ball from a sticky situation and quickly get back on track for the hole.
Overall, a chipper is an excellent club to use around the green. It offers a good balance between a mid-iron and a traditional wedge. Use it when you’re on the green but too far away to use the putter, or when you’re stuck behind an obstruction.
Are two-way chippers legal?
No, a two-way chipper (also known as a double sided chipper) is not legal.
This variation of the chipper club has a double-sided clubhead and can be used both as a left and right-handed club so that you can get out of a tricky spot by using both hands. However, USGA rule does not allow clubs to have two clubfaces and therefore they are not legalized.
The only exception to this is the putter, as this is allowed to have two clubfaces as long as they have less than 10 degrees of loft. Since the chipper has more loft than 10 degrees, two clubfaces are not legally allowed.
You shouldn’t use illegal clubs during tournaments or while measuring your handicap, as this might throw off your measurements. However, two-way chippers can be used recreationally when you’re just playing for fun.
Quick Recap on Golf Chippers
Overall, chippers are legal as long as:
- they only have one clubface
- they don’t have a putter grip installed
- have a normal iron shaft length
Since many golfers don’t have experience with chippers, their initial reaction may be that these unique clubs are illegal. If you’ve read this article, you know otherwise. The Golf Academy has a great write-up on how to use a golf chipper.
Use your chipper around the green torture your friends and get more accurate positioning with your golf ball. Who knows…the chipper might become your new favorite club!