Are Golf Chippers Legal? Rules and Regulations

Mark Crossfield
12 Min Read

Are you confused about the legality of golf chippers?

With the increasing popularity of golf chippers, many amateur golfers are uncertain about the rules and regulations governing the use of these clubs.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be left in the dark any longer.

I’m a golf pro and experienced tournament player, and I know all about the rules and regulations regarding golf chippers. In this article, I’ll provide an overview of legal golf chippers and explain the benefits they offer. I’ll also discuss the differences between a chipper and a putter, so you can make an informed decision when selecting your clubs.

By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have all the information you need to correctly identify which golf chippers are legal for your next round. So read on to get the scoop on golf chipper rules and regulations.

Golf chippers are wedge-shaped clubs with an angled face designed to provide mid to high handicap players with more control and spin on their shots. They are intended for use in the short game, particularly for chips and pitches around the greens. The chipper is not a putter, nor is it an iron; it falls somewhere in between the two categories of clubs. Golf chippers have been around since the 1980s and were first introduced by companies such as Wilson and True Ace.

It is essential to know the legality of golf chippers to avoid disqualification from a tournament or penalty during general play. As recreational players, we should adhere to equipment standards set by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which regulate golf equipment worldwide. With golf equipment continually evolving, it is crucial to understand the rules and regulations to ensure that your golf club complies with safety, performance, and innovation standards.

Golf chippers are legal in golf, as they are iron clubs instead of putters, according to the USGA. However, they must follow the same rules as other woods and irons equipment in the game. Using a two-way chipper is not allowed, and anyone caught using it will be automatically disqualified. The USGA and R&A have established this rule to maintain a level playing field and ensure that no player gains an unfair advantage.

General Play

In general play, golf chippers are allowed. There are no restrictions on the use of these clubs, and players can use them as they see fit. The purpose of chippers is to assist golfers when they encounter difficult or awkward lies and shots within 30 yards of the green.

Tournaments

When it comes to tournaments, the rules around golf chippers are more complicated. Under the USGA and R&A rules, golf chippers are considered illegal for use in tournaments. Specifically, any club with a “face that is not flat and vertical” is not allowed. This rule applies to all clubs, including chippers.

Why are Golf Chippers Illegal in Tournaments?

The USGA and R&A have established this rule as a way to ensure that all players are using equipment that meets the same standards. By restricting the use of certain clubs, they can maintain a level playing field and ensure that no player gains an unfair advantage. The use of non-conforming golf clubs can lead to a loss of trust between players and the governing bodies that regulate golf competitions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Golf Chippers

Golf chippers can help a golfer’s game, especially when the ball has landed in an area with rough or short grass. It allows golfers to hit a lofted shot without having to open the face of a wedge, which requires a lot of practice and skill. The chipper’s loft is anywhere from 32 to 37 degrees, while a wedge has 44 to 65. Chippers are better suited for the greenside area and shorter hits of up to 40 yards.

However, using a chipper has its disadvantages. As it is a specific club, it limits the golfer’s flexibility to choose between a variety of clubs, such as irons or wedges, which can be used in various situations. Using a chipper too often can cause a golfer to rely on it too heavily and even neglect other areas of their short game.

Here’s a table summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of using golf chippers:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
More control and spin on shots around the greensLimited club options
Easier to hit lofted shots without opening the face of a wedgePossible overreliance on chipper
Better suited for greenside shots and shorter hits within 30 yardsNot allowed in tournaments
Can help lower handicap players develop their short gameNot allowed in tournaments

To ensure that your golf club is legal, you need to know the equipment rules set by the USGA and R&A. These rules outline golf club regulations, including testing, certification, approval, and limitations. A golf club must pass tests related to safety, performance, and innovation before being approved for use in general play or tournaments.

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If you are unsure whether your golf chipper meets the guidelines of the USGA and R&A, you can check their websites for lists of compliant golf clubs. You can also consult with a qualified golf club fitter to ensure that your equipment complies with the rules and regulations and is fit for your game. Additionally, you can refer to the markings on your golf club, which should indicate whether the club conforms to the USGA and R&A standards.

It is crucial to note that even if your golf chipper conforms to the rules and regulations, it is up to the tournament officials to determine whether a club is allowed during competitions. It is always best to confirm with the tournament organizers beforehand if you plan to use a specific club in a tournament.

Conclusion

In conclusion, golf chippers are legal in general play but illegal for use in tournaments under the USGA and R&A rules. Golfers who want to ensure that their golf clubs comply with the regulations and are suitable for their game can seek advice from golf club fitters or check the official lists of compliant equipment. While using a golf chipper can provide advantages in certain situations, golfers should also be aware of the limitations and potential disadvantages of this specialized club. As always, playing by the rules and regulations is essential to maintaining the integrity of the game and promoting fair play among all players.

So, if you’re considering adding a golf chipper to your bag, make sure to do your research and understand the rules and regulations governing its use. And remember, when it comes to golf, playing fair and within the rules is always the best way to go!

FAQs

Are chippers allowed on the PGA Tour?

Yes, chippers are legal to use in golf, including on the PGA Tour. However, there are some rules that must be followed. For example, chippers must conform to the requirements for iron clubs, not putters, and cannot have a putter grip or two striking faces. While single-faced chippers are legal to use on the PGA Tour, professional golfers rarely use them.

Can you take a full swing with a chipper?

While it is possible to take full swing with a chipper, it is not its intended use. The chipper is designed for short basic shots near the hole and to eliminate fat chip shots. However, some golfers have experimented with using a chipper for full swings and have found that it can be effective due to its heavy head weight relative to club length. It is important to note that using a chipper for full swings is not recommended for low-handicap golfers as it can mess with their rhythm and technique.

How and when to use a chipper in golf?

To use a chipper in golf, you should address the ball as you would normally and strike the ball slightly softer than you would if you were putting from that distance. Keep your arms and wrists straight, slightly swing the club back like a pendulum, and swivel your hips. A chipper looks like a putter and you use a putting stroke to hit the ball. Take the club back, then draw it straight through the ball in a downward arcing swing, accelerating as you complete the shot. A chipper is a good tool for those who struggle with chipping.

What is the difference between a chipper and a pitching wedge?

A chipper and a pitching wedge are both golf clubs, but they have different designs and purposes. A chipper has an extra-wide sole and an adjusted leading edge, making it almost impossible for a golfer to hit the ball fat. It is designed for short shots around the green and has a lot of loft. On the other hand, a pitching wedge is a type of wedge that can be played from longer distances, up to around 30 yards. It has a similar club head to an iron and is used for higher and further shots in the air. The chip shot is a one-lever move, while a pitch shot is a two-lever movement.

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Mark Crossfield is a UK-based golf coach, author, and YouTuber. He simplifies complex concepts, emphasizes understanding fundamentals, and has authored several golf books. Mark has helped golfers worldwide improve their game through his coaching, online content, and contributions to magazines and TV programs.
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