Butch Harmon's Tips 1, 2 and 3 (from top left to bottom) for picking a club around the green.
How's your lie? From deep grass, sometimes all you can do is try to wedge the ball anywhere on the green. If you're in the fairway, you have options. A wedge might still be best, but often you don't need all that loft. Whenever you can, play a running shot, down to a fairway-metal chip. And if the ground is dry and smooth, putt it.
How much green do you have? On chips and pitches, land the ball on the green, because the bounce will be more predictable. If you have a lot of green to work with, take a less-lofted club and run it. The low shot is safer because you use a shorter swing, but make sure you don't inadvertently bring trouble into play -- like deep rough or water over the green.
How will the ball bounce? Look at two factors: the firmness of the green and any slopes. If the green is hard, a big bounce might make a wedge play like an 8-iron. The opposite might be true on a spongy green. Same thinking applies to landing the ball on an upslope or a downslope, where it can either die or take off. Try to picture that first bounce, and figure it into your club selection.
Butch Harmon* is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional and runs the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco, Henderson, Nev.*