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Just off of the Green: Putt or Pitch?

The drive landed 170 yard from the pin in the middle of the fairway.  The next shot will require a bit of luck and skill with the wind in your face and the front of the green is raised just a bit.  You pull the club out of the bag and swing away.  You aimed true but the wind pushed the ball just short of the green.  Five feet short to be exact.  The ball stops on the fringe of the green five feet off and fifteen feet form the pin.  You are now faced with the decision: putt or pitch?

 Versatile Short Game

A good short game requires a player to be flexible in shot and club selection.  There is no one answer for every shot and sometimes you need decide to putt or pitch or flop or bump & run.  The key is to know which short will get you closer to the pin based on your skill level, confidence level, and green layout.

Putt or Pitch Example

Let’s look at a real world shot I was face with at Harbor Pines Golf Club first hole. I ended up like we said above five feet off the form the green with fifteen feet of green to go to the pin.

Putt or Pitch - measurement
Distance to green and pin.

The fringe was well cut and would not disrupt the roll of the ball to the green.  The break on the green lined up in my face so I was going uphill.  Time to make a decision.

Chip Shot Possibilities

I am confident with a my chip shot but there is nothing like watching your ball go past the hole.  My goal is to get within a club length of the hole to set up a manageable par putt.  I would use my gap wedge since there was still space to go.  Below is what I saw as my possible results.

Putt or Pitch - Pitch Results
Result area for a chip.

Notice the ellipse goes past the hole.  If I over shot the hole, I could expect a roll and be left with a downhill putt at the hole.

Putt Possibilites

Determining how hard to hit putt through fringe is tricky because we do not practice it often or at all.  There is no rule of thumb of hit it double as hard to over the distance.  The way I read the green here is the possible range of outcomes if I putt.

Putt or Pitch - Putt Result Range
Result area for a putt.

I felt confident I would not over hit the ball past the pin. Hitting up hill would aid in slowing the ball.  The break was relatively flat once I got up the initial hill.

What Was my Choice: Putt or Pitch:

I putted the ball and walked away with a par.  It was about choosing the lowest risk shot. This though process helps to eliminate needless strokes on the scorecard.  My choice may change if I ever learn a good flop shot or the green showed a different break.  Putting worked this one time and that is all that matters.

What would you have done?  Try something new when you are next faced with a in between shot like this.

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