WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Ping introduces the ChipR, a short-game alternative club that mixes the length of a putter with the loft of a 9-iron to help golfers who struggle with chunked and bladed chips.
PRICE: $330 per club with stock steel shaft; $350 per club with stock graphite shaft.
THE DEEP DIVE: The short game can be a menace to average golfers. Whether it’s bunker play, shaky putting or probably most notably the straightforward chip, what perhaps infuriates the recreational player more than anything is how close he seems to his destination yet how far he feels after yet another foozled, stubbed or bladed mistake throws par out the window. Ping founder and visionary designer Karsten Solheim knew this lament. It’s why he sought to improve putters by developing perimeter weighting to create more forgiveness, and it’s why later he was the first to fashion high-lofted “L” wedges. But lost in the middle of Solheim’s most creative and forgiving club designs was his simple solution to the simplest of shots, the greenside chip.
The Ping Chipo, first introduced in the mid-1970s, mixed the loft of a downsized short-iron with the familiar length of a putter. The idea was to get average golfers to make a more comfortable putting stroke motion with a clubhead that had loft and grooves to produce the launch, check and roll of a standard chip shot. The club, unchanged, was sold for decades with even a regular handful ordered in recent years.
Chippers, as they’ve come to be called, have fallen in and out of favour over the years, but with the influx of new golfers over the last few years, Ping’s current club engineering team decided to take another look at this short-game emergency fix. The result is the just released Ping ChipR.
The ChipR’s solution is to marry the traditional putter length of 35 inches with the loft of a current 9-iron (38.5 degrees) to simplify the hitting motion and ultimately the results for these shorter shots. Ping’s research across golfers with a range of handicaps found that one in three produced better results with the ChipR than their typical chipping club.
“The whole reason we’ve designed this was to make the ultimate solution,” said Ryan Stokke, director of product design at Ping. “The real story with this is getting the sizing and shaping right to make it better than the original. Giving it a little more heel-toe camber that actually allows the club to play with more camber as you shorten it, and that lets it go through the turf better and in different conditions.
“We also shallowed the face to give it a little more of that putter experience at address and feel.”
Stokke said an important adjustment with the new version is changing those loft and length specs. The original Chipo had the loft of a 5-iron and the length of a 9-iron. Now with 9-iron loft and putter length, as well as a head weight of 330 grams that sits right between that of a lob wedge and a putter, it is an easier adjustment for average golfers. The key, said John K. Solheim, Ping’s CEO and president, is for average golfers to forget the traditional chipping motion with this club.
“Applying a putting-style stroke takes a lot of the margin for error out of chip shots and is more comfortable for a lot of golfers,” he said, noting that the ChipR is built with a lie angle (70 degrees) similar to that of a standard putter “to make setting up to the ball easier while providing the right amount of loft to get the ball in the air.”
Stokke said the research that showed better chipping by a third of all golfers showed a much tighter concentration of short shots with the ChipR for those who struggled with stubbed or bladed shots. “A player who really doesn’t know how to chip still knows how to putt to some degree,” Stokke said. “There is a type of player that this club is always going to help.”
The ChipR is offered in all 10 Ping colour code lie angle options. The ChipR offers precision-milled grooves for more friction and better spin on short shots. It features tungsten weighting in the toe and shaft tip for better stability on off-centre strikes. The ChipR, which features an 8-degree bounce angle on the sole for easier glide on tight turf conditions around the greens, is recommended for distances inside 40 yards.
The Ping ChipR will be available in Australia from July 29.