Buying A Short Game
A chipper combines an 8-iron loft with a putter length. The hybrid-like sole width is designed to resist chunked shots. ODYSSEY: Marxman X-Act ($119). The 37-degree putter-like club features the White Hot XG elastomer-backed polymer face insert. CLEVELAND: Niblick ($110). The wide-sole-iron design comes in 37- and 42-degree lofts. ADAMS: Idea a3OS ($90). Built as a hybrid with a putter hosel, it has 37 degrees of loft and an extended grip. __TOUR EDGE:__Geomax 2 ($50). Made of 431 stainless steel, it has perimeter weighting in the heel and toe.
BOMB: When I see a piece of equipment that can clearly help golfers, I will do everything I can to promote the cause. However, the return of chippers to the equipment scene has me torn. First, let's call them what they are. They are not niblicks or putting wedges. They are chippers, and I hold them in the same regard as the ball retriever with the telescoping handle. Nevertheless, I have to admit that the little suckers get the job done. In a game that demands so much from us, what's wrong with eliminating a little grief on shots around the greens?
GOUGE: You all know I'm on record when it comes to my moral outrage of golf equipment designed as pathetic crutch. When there's legitimate skill-enhancement benefits to a new driver or a set of irons, I'm all in. But there is a difference between working with what you have and creating something that isn't there. Chippers, just like long putters, are the kind of lie you tell yourself after your third piece of cake or, worse, when you buy a toupee. To me, the game is about an honest evaluation of your inferiority. A chipper, at best, is pure self-deceit. More important, wouldn't it make better sense to learn to chip with some of the clubs you already have in your bag? Even the best players on earth have lowered themselves to hit the bunt chip with a hybrid, so you can, too. You've got 14 slots in your bag. At the very least, sacrificing one of those spots creates gapping issues. But then you're weak, aren't you?
BOMB: As someone wise once said, "Lighten up, Francis." Bottom line: The clubs work (bad players play better with them). They're foolproof. Plus, a decent one can cost you as little as 50 bucks.
GOUGE: And your soul.
Bomb (aka E. Michael Johnson, the Equipment Editor for Golf World, our sister magazine) and Gouge (aka Mike Stachura, Equipment Editor for Golf Digest) answer your equipment questions online.