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Game of the Weekend: Chipping Median



While much has been rightly made of the importance of distance off the tee, you still can’t get through a round of golf without your wedges. It’s inevitable that your short game is going to be put to test when you play. This Game of the Weekend will help you easily see how close you’re hitting your chips from the hole. Give it a go and see how low you can make your Chipping Median.

Game of the Weekend: Chipping Median

  • Gear needed: 15 golf balls and your chipping clubs.
  • Time needed: 5-7 minutes.

Rules: The closer you hit your chips to the hole, the greater your odds become of making the putt. That said, this game called Chipping Median will help you do a quick measure of the median distance you hit your chips from the hole.

From within 5 yards of the green, hit 15 shots to three different holes in the following manner: one ball to the closest hole, one ball to the hole in the middle, and one ball to the hole farthest away. Repeating this series a total of five times will give you 15 chip shots.

Once you have hit all 15 shots, walk up to the green and, taking all three holes into consideration, remove the seven closest shots you have hit to your targets. Find the next closest shot (which would have been the eighth), and step off how far away it is from the hole rounded to the nearest foot and record that number into our interactive practice website

The eighth closest shot is your median, and is significant because there are seven shots closer to the hole and seven shots that are farther away. Improving your median is a neat way to monitor your short game progress to help you improve the likelihood of making more putts. See the video below for more. 

Benefits: Here’s what this game helps you with.

  • Even the top players in the world don’t hit every green in regulation, so getting your chips as close to the hole as possible will obviously make for easier up-and-downs. This quick and easy way to measure the effectiveness of your short game shots creates a competitive environment in which you can easily chart your progress.
  • Remember to take note of your bad shots, too. You can have a fairly low median, say 4 feet, but if you hit several stray shots that roll 20 feet away from the hole they will end up costing you when you’re on the course.
  • Concentrate on every shot so that all 15 end up close!

Practice well to play well, and enjoy this Labor Day weekend!

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website



  1. joshuaplaysgolf

    Sep 4, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Agreed, but what I do think is that by progressing to each hole after one ball, you are forcing yourself to think through each shot and not just repeating the same 5 shots consecutively. Yes you would make adjustments after each shot, but it’s similar to having a 10 yard chip on the 2nd hole, and then having another on the 5th…you would take the information from the first chip and make an adjustment as necessary for the next one.

    They pretty much laid this out in last weeks, 18 holes of up and down…but to really simulate what you would come across in a round, I like to take 9 balls and put them all around the green. Different lies, different distances, different shots. You get one go at it as you would during your rounds, and adds a little pressure to your practice. After putting those 9 out, repeat and see what your score is. Obviously, you don’t want to be the jerk putting on the chipping green, so either find somewhere with a large chipping green or wait until no one else is chipping…usually in the evening/twilight. Personally, I don’t like chipping more than 10 balls onto the green at a time…I don’t feel that hitting balls into a pile of balls around a hole does anything for you, and is inconsiderate of other people who are practicing. There is value in muscle memory, but standing in one place hitting 100 balls is not very effective (see this ALL the time). You learn a lot more a lot quicker by forcing your brain to adapt to a wide variety of conditions and swings. For example, if you want to work on 20 yarders, hit a handful of balls from that spot, hit a few other types of shots, and come back. It’s the same principle of only hitting 3-5 balls on the range with one club and cycling back to it to keep your brain from going into autopilot.

    • Bo B. Jammin

      Sep 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

      You’ve got it right Joshua. I know several guys that always practice their chipping by unloading a shag bag and piling up balls around one hole. Half way through the bag of balls their shots are colliding into the previous balls that they have hit so they have absolutely no clue as to the quality of their ball striking and how much the ball checks up when it hits the green, but they just keep chipping away at the same spot like some zombie in a golf trance. What amazes me even more is that almost invariably, they will then collect up all of their balls and repeat the exact same thing from the exact same spot a few times before they finally come out of their clueless trance, collect up their balls and then walk away apparently content that they have somehow miraculously improved their game.

      The reason I know that this way of practicing doesn’t work is that I often play a round with several guys who practice like that and on the course, their short game is severely lacking. You can see the fear in their eyes because that have absolutely no idea how hard to even strike the ball much less what loft / backspin they want or can put on the ball based on they lie they are confronted with.

      They always give me compliments on my short game but on the practice green they seem to feel sorry for me when they see me practicing with only three balls. . . (Several of them have actually offered to give me one of their old shag bags.)

      I firmly believe that if you don’t practice with the intensity and at the tempo, pace and the randomness of lies, slopes and distances that occurs during an actual round of golf, you are, for the most part, wasting your time.

      In golf, every shot is a puzzle that must be solved, but nowhere is that more true than around the green. Personally, if I have to get up and down and my chip shot isn’t either in the hole, or within 18 inches of the hole and positioned where the putt will be a no-brainer, I feel as though I have failed the task at hand. I don’t get down on myself, it just makes me want to get better and fortunately I really enjoy practicing the short game. It is a whole lot of fun!

      • Joshuaplaysgolf

        Sep 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

        Hahaha, zombie golfers is a wonderful analogy. I’m glad I’m not the only one who practices that way. I had to stop using the chopping green at my home course because they put 200 range balls out for people to use. Most people seem to like to hit as many as possible onto the green and just walk away as if they were the only one who wanted to practice there. I play golf, not billiards. And why in the world would you practice using range balls? Do you play with the anime practice ball? I also love the guys who stand literally 5 feet off the green to hit their 10 million identical shots. Really? How often do you miss the green by 5 feet, and in the fringe? It just isn’t practical, and I don’t understand where the perception that this is effective comes from. Fortunately I have found a close by course with easily the best short game facility I’ve ever seen…and they don’t put range balls out. I agree that the short game is a ton of fun to practice. There’s so much room for creativity and mental stimulus to figure out how to get yourself up and down…but you actually have to utilize that opportunity.

  2. btv

    Sep 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I still don’t think this accurately represents your “median” ability when it comes to the course. Even with hitting 5 shots to 3 targets… once you hit one you will naturally compensate with the next one. I think this may be a viable activity for skills training but not measuring your ability to get up and down.

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Hand position

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Club selection

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