It might be surprising to see someone pull out a chipping golf club for the first time on the course. You might be wondering what this club is and what its use cases are. There has also been some controversy surrounding chippers, which may lead some to wonder if they are legal to use.
So, are chippers legal in golf? It is legal to use chippers in regulated competitions. That said, the USGA has some strict rules about using them. Legal chippers cannot have a putter grip, cannot be double-sided, and must be the same length as a 7-iron. Anyone violating these rules may be disqualified from the competition.
While this answers the main question, there’s still a lot you need to know about chippers. They are a controversial club to make cutting easier but some claim it takes away from the spirit of the game. The remainder of this article will cover:
- What is a golf chipper
- Key Rules Used in Canonical Competition
- Pros and Cons of Using a Chipper
By the end, you’ll have a better idea if you should be carrying a chipper in your golf bag, or if it’s a club you should skip. Read on for all the details.
What are Chipper Golf Clubs?
Before learning more about the rules and regulations regarding chippers, it’s important to understand what a chipper means in golf. It’s different from something like a wedge, which is the standard club for chipping.
A chipper is essentially a cross between a putter and an iron. It leans like an iron, but you swing it like a putter. That’s why some people call it a “chip putter”.
The inclination angle of the chipper is 23-37 degrees. This is a bit different than a putter with only 3-4 degrees of loft. So if you’re hitting the ball with a chipper not too far from the hole, you can get decent air on your shot with the chipper.
As far as how far you can get with one, most chippers can hit up to 30 yards. They’re great for approach shots, chipping shots or getting out of some dense rough.
Here’s an example of a chipper at its most useful, just off the green, like this:
Image credit: Pexels
Are Chippers Legal in Golf?
As mentioned earlier, some chippers are legal in regulated golf. But not all chippers are created equal, especially according to the United States Golf Association (USGA).
The USGA states that chippers can be used on all greens and in all situations. That said, chippers are defined as irons, so they must conform to the rules of an iron.
Read more: The best chippers of the year
What would make a Chipper Golf Club illegal?
Not every chipper is legal, so you might be wondering what could get you disqualified.
Here are some common situations that would make your chipper illegal:
- Double-sided head: The double-sided chipper looks cool and is fun to use. But they are not allowed in regulated golf. The USGA stipulates that all irons must have single-sided clubheads to qualify.
- Putter Grip: It’s easier to use a chipper with a putter grip. However, this fact makes its use illegal in regulated competitions.
- Longer than a 7-iron: Some chippers may be longer in length. Also, it makes the club easier to use, so it’s not allowed in regulation play.
- Accessories to aid aiming: Like an iron, your chipper cannot have any arrows or other graphics that aid in aiming.
As you can see, there are a lot of regulations on whether you can use a chipper or not. But don’t worry. The next section describes the exact specifications that need to be eligible.
Key Rules for Using a Chipper
Here are some exact rules you need to follow in order to qualify as a chipper under USGA rules:
- length: The maximum allowable length of the iron is 48 inches. There is also a USGA rule that hosts tournaments can choose to limit the length to 46 inches. Most golfers don’t have to worry about this. However, be careful if you use chippers as they may vary in size.
- Head: The USGA club head rules state that it must be strong, stable and fully functional. Irons (including chippers) also cannot have graphics to aid aiming.
- Hold tight: The USGA’s grip regulations state that all irons must have a grip with a circular cross-section. This is different from a putter, which can have a non-circular cross-section. So be careful with your chipper.
So if your chipper meets these regulations, you can play it in your golf bag. Many chippers have a “USGA Qualified” or “USGA Approved” seal to help you tell if it meets the proper standards.
Other regulations that may affect the use of chippers
There are a few other USGA regulations that may affect whether you choose to use a chipper. These rules include:
- Number of clubs in your bag: You are limited to a maximum of 14 clubs in your bag during a round. Depending on the club you prefer, chipping may or may not be cutting in.
- Electronic equipment: Electronic devices are not permitted in the club. These could be things that measure distance or altitude. Most clubs are not sold as such, but they may be designed differently since the chippers are newer.
- Adjustable function: Clubs can have some adjustable features in terms of weight and length. However, they cannot be adjusted mid-turn. So if your chipper is adjustable, just know that it has to be in a fixed position for the entire round.
If you buy a chipper that bears the “USGA Approved” seal and adheres to these regulations, you’re good to go.
What are the advantages of using a chipper?
Image credit: Pixabay
Those who will get the most out of the chipper are beginners and those with moderate to high handicap. Chippers often make it easier to get clean chipped shots. If you’re having trouble with this part of the game, implementing one might help.
Many also find them useful for cutting through dense rough. Unlike wedges or irons, which can get bogged down in dense grass, chippers cut in easily. So it can get you out of some tough situations.
Finally, if you invest a lot in approach or chipping, a chipper can help. Rarely will you see someone cutting sod with a chipper.
Have a bad lie? A chipper can help chop up dense rough like the one above.
best golf chipper
For those looking to try a chipper, the Wilson Harmonized Golf Chipper is a great option. This one is more affordable, you can try it if you don’t know if you like it or not. Also, it is very strong, so it can last for a long time.
I like this because the loft of the 32 degree chipper is higher. While you won’t be able to put the same spin on it as you would with a wedge, it will get more spin than other chippers on the market.
Overall, I think this is a well-rounded value pick that complies with USGA regulations.
You can check out our article on the best golf chippers to see a full list of options.
Why do some golfers object to using chippers?
Chippers also came with their downfall. Also, some golfers are purists who feel that this club takes the game out of the game.
One of the main disadvantages of ball choppers is that you have no control over spin or aim. While this club makes it easy to get the ball into the air with a putter, it has less loft than other irons. Therefore, using a 5-iron, 7-iron or wedge will provide better control.
Chippers can also be a bit of a crutch to learn the proper technique. No professional golfer uses a chipper because they can make better use of other clubs. While chippers are easier, the basic putter form they use does not lend itself to improved wedge chipping.
It can also remove some movement from the game. The game of golf is about detailed technique and intricacies. If you can get the ball high with your putt, it feels like a cheap trick.
Also, some golfers like to putt right off the green. However, chippers can be seen as an unfair advantage because it can actually be used as a putter farther from the green than is usually appropriate.
Can you use a chipper in the game of golf?
Chippers are permitted in regulated golf competitions. A legal chipper must:
* Only one side of the head
* Features a circular cross-section grip designed for irons
*Same length as 7 iron
* Doesn’t have any graphics to help with aiming
Legal chippers usually bear the “USGA Qualified” stamp.
Are double chippers legal in golf?
Two-way chippers are not permitted in the game of golf. It violates the USGA’s rules for single-sided iron clubheads.
Does the PGA Tour allow chippers?
Professionals on the PGA Tour may use chippers as long as they meet the appropriate regulations for their irons. That said, you won’t see any PGA pros using them. Professional golfers know how to get the most out of their other clubs, so there’s no need for a chipper.
There you have it, a complete answer to “Are Chippers Legal in Golf?” You should have everything you need to choose a legal chipper and figure out if it’s something you want to carry in your golf bag.
If you want my two cents, I don’t carry a chipper in my golf bag. I feel like it’s more of a crutch that hinders learning good techniques in the long run. You’d better practice aiming and learn to spin the ball with your wedges and irons.
A good way to do this is to use the right wedge for your needs. You can check out our article on the best wedges for chipping to help you optimize your short game.
But if you want to use a chipper, you certainly can. As long as you follow the proper regulations, no one can stop you from using it in competitions.
Pierce is an enthusiastic golfer who most recently worked as a part-time coach. He loves sharing his golf knowledge and helping beginners get started. Whenever I get the chance, he also goes to the class.