Product review: PING ChipR – SCOREGolf

Late Saturday night I drove out to Tarandowah Golfers Club with only a single club.

PING sent me one of its new ChipRs last week.

Deemed by the Phoenix-based brand as a “fully engineered short-game solution,” the half wedge, half putter is a generational offshoot of Karsten Solheim’s Chipo, a club that PING’s founder invented back in the early 1970s to help recreational golfers escape the nuances of traditional wedge design.

Fifty plus years later, not much has changed. Pitching and chipping the golf ball for some folks is still a struggle bordering on a nightmare, especially where an absence of reliable fundamentals and good motor patterning is present. Strokes lost from 40 to 50 yards are not only frustrating but they can also be downright embarrassing.

Granted all of us are prone to a bladed chip or a chunked pitch from time-to-time. But many golfers — and you might even be one or know a couple — would dramatically improve their score if they simply got the golf ball moving closer to the ground faster than lofting it in the air.

That’s precisely what the ChipR helps to accomplish.

At 35 inches — the length of a putter — and a loft of 38.5-degrees — around the same as a 9-iron — the club embraces bump-and-run type shot-making with the use of a putting stroke. Deceleration of the clubhead is one of the cardinal sins of poor short games but the ChipR makes it easier to accelerate the clubhead through impact, leading to improved distance control and better consistency.      

“We’ve learned a lot since my grandfather, Karsten Solheim, invented the Chipo, but his insights were spot on as always,” said John K. Solheim, PING CEO and president, in a release. “Our research indicates one-third of golfers who tested the ChipR saw better results compared to a traditional wedge. We’ve engineered a lot of technology into the ChipR to help golfers avoid the poor chip shot and save strokes around the green.”

The golf course was quiet when I arrived.

After getting permission from the pro shop, I made my way out to Tarandowah’s 10th green with ChipR, my notebook and a small Titleist shag bag I keep on hand for short game testing. Note: If you’re going to test or practice your short game, you should do so with golf ball(s) you normally play.

Next to the green I started hitting pitches alternating between a putting grip and standard grip. Lloyd Tucker, the late owner of the Woodstock Golf Club, first taught me to use a putting grip to chip with when I was a junior golfer. His theory: Get that golf ball rolling as soon as you can.  

Something I was also reminded of using the PING ChipR was just how much fun the bump-and-run is to play. I have an okay short game with some ability to control flight so that shot isn’t in my repertoire nearly as much as it once was.

Perhaps it should be.

“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,” Solheim said. “Knowing that we’re building the ChipR at our standard putter length and lie angle to make setting up to the ball easier while providing the right amount of loft to get the ball in the air and eventually rolling closer to the hole. We recommend applying the same amount of force for a putt of the same distance.”

This type of golf club is hardly a new idea. Several manufacturers have marketed chippers through the years but PING is the highest profile company to do since Odyssey came out with the X-ACT Chipper.  

The R&D team in Phoenix did its homework too.

Built of investment-cast 431 stainless-steel, the compact ChipR is hardly off-putting in any way. Equipped with a shallow face design, the overall look is traditional, features a cavity badge for improved sound/feel and vibration dampening, tungsten weighting, and comes standard with PING’s hydropearl 2.0 chrome finish.

PING also utilized precision-milled MicroMax grooves for “more consistent and predictable trajectories.” That was noted as I moved off the side of the green to about five to eight yards down a small embankment. Doing so posed no issues for control. Neither did moving 15 and 30 yards down the fairway.

Talk about fun. From those distances I was able to do a number of different things. Long bump and runs and lower, controlled shots were all pretty routine to negotiate.

“We designed the ChipR to fit seamlessly into a golfer’s set. Whether they replace an existing wedge or another club in their bag it’s a tremendous option to save strokes around the green. Just like all of our clubs it’s forgiving and can be custom fit and custom built to match the needs of the player. We’re excited to get it into golfers’ hands,” Solheim added.

Stock shafts for ChipR are PING’s Z-Z115 wedge and PING Alta CB Slate Regular. Stock grip is the 360 Dyla-wedge Lite (three-quarters of an inch longer than traditional) and the 70 degree standard lie can be customized for all 10 PING colour codes.    

Price is $240 CDN with stock steel and $260 for graphite.

As a matter of disclosure, ChipR is a club I never would have entertained putting in my bag. Being a certified “wedge-head” with a decent short game, it’s not exactly built for me. Or at least that’s what I thought before my Saturday night test session at Tarandowah.

But for the rest of this season my pitching wedge will be getting a breather. PING ChipR is going in.      

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