Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Proceed with Caution

Tour pro resorts to chipping one-handed in PGA Tour Champions event


Octavio Passos

Matt Fitzpatrick has famously made cross-handed chipping a thing in recent years, winning the U.S. Open last summer, and more recently the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town earlier this month, despite the awkward-looking technique. But there is a method to his madness; Fitzpatrick usually goes with the unconventional grip when he has room for the ball to run to the hole.

“Normally, if I’ve got to land it inside 30 yards, I’ll chip cross-handed,” Fitzpatrick said while at Hilton Head Island. “Outside of that, I tend to go normal grip just because I can’t really get the speed. I also can’t get the spin from anything outside of that, or if I have to play a high shot. I can’t get the spin, either, going cross-handed. That’s when I might have to go normal grip.”

Fitzpatrick has made a point of noting that this quirk has nothing to do with having the “chipping yips” but rather feeling more comfortable with the way the ball will play when using the grip. “I just found it more consistent,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s the same every time. You know what’s coming.”

By contrast, former PGA Tour winner Wes Short Jr., now playing on the PGA Tour Champions, very much admits that the chipping technique he employed during the second round of this week’s Insperity Invitational—using only his left hand when hitting shots around the green—had everything to do with some trepidation with a conventional grip.

“It’s to get my right hand off the club,” Short, 59, said. “I think my right hand has caused me some problems. If it’s not on the club, it can’t cause me any problems.”

After recording his first top-10 of the senior season a week ago earlier, Short started the second round at The Woodlands Country Club outside Houston in a tie for sixth place. But he struggled early on Saturday, going seven over through the first 13 holes, including a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 ninth hole. Fearful of another dropped shot on the par-3 14th, Short changed things up. And got up-and-down for par. He then made birdies on the 16th and 18th holes to finish with a five-over 77.

“I’ve been trying to work myself back into two, but I had quite a bit of trouble yesterday so I went back to one-handed for the last couple holes.”

A Sunday 70 left him tied for 20th on the week. And still hoping to be able to get two hands back on the club some day soon.