If you sometimes get a little jumpy on those shots around the green, at least these days there are more options. As well as just smashing a putter through the fringe or reaching for a straighter faced iron, you can now also use a hybrid.
However each requires a different technique, so what Callaway has done with the Odyssey X-Act Tank chipper is bring elements of all three together in a single club that you swing like a putter.
Chippers have been around for a while, but not many are made by the mainstream putter brands so the backing of Odyssey means that you can be assured that this is a quality product.
The generous rounded head has 37° loft which is around the same as an 8-iron with a 34.5 inch shaft, which is about the same as a putter.
The key is the wide X-Act sole that is cambered like a hybrid to increase forgiveness on even the tightest of lies and gives the X-Act Tank the look of a mallet putter with more loft.
The face has the usual White Hot insert from the Odyssey putter range but with face grooves that create a little bit of check if you hit it right with enough force.
The feel is pretty good although a metal face would probably have given a better all round result. As it is, the sound is a little hollow, but the softer insert will be good for those who prefer a firmer ball.
Alignment is always key and to help with this Callaway has added the Marxman putter lines to the back of the 355gram head to ensure you are pointing in the right direction.
There is a pretty aggressive offset on the hosel which comes from the X-Act's putter heritage and it is there to keep the hands ahead and also to avoid those shots we don't talk about.
All this sounds very reassuring and so it should as it is very similar in style and specification to the Odyssey Marxman X-act Putting Wedge they did in 2008.
However Callaway has enhanced the design further by adding a counterbalanced grip from their Tank putter range to the X-Act to stabilise your hands and prevent them from imitating someone holding an angry snake by the tail.
The weight is within an oversized, non-tapered SuperStroke Odyssey chipper grip that also enables you to place your hands at any point to suit your height and stance for putting.
Imagining that you are using your putting stroke is the best approach. Just address the ball in the middle of your stance and the X-Act will keep your hands ahead of the ball.
Then just make a smooth putting stroke and the ball will pop up over the fringe grass and roll out on the green. From close range there is more roll than air time as you can see from the video below.
From around 15 yards off the green the flight time and roll time will be about the same and it is possible to use the X-Act from up to 100 yards away, but really you would be better off with a full sand iron or lob wedge from this distance.
Its best range is from 5 to 10 yards off the green or when the ball needs to run up to 40 feet as this is within the limits of a decent length putting stroke, which most of us can easily do. Further away and it will require a little more practise but the forgiveness inherent in the head design will make it a percentage play over a wedge you are not friends with.
Overall I like the Odyssey X-Act Tank chipper as it solves a problem that a lot of golfers of all handicaps have when your confidence goes from time to time and you can't get your putter out.
It would be interesting to see it with a soft metal face for a little better sound and feel, especially with a softer ball. To be fair the White Hot insert does the job well and the grooves provide some nice extra check spin control if it is required.
I could see this being an excellent club for bump and runs on firm, dry courses or general links play and it would be good to see a version with around 25° to 30° of loft as that would be a better option from 20 to 40 yards as you could get more distance without having to use an over-extended putting stroke.
The only possible issue with the X-Act Chipper is which club to leave out the bag to make room for it. You will still need your wedges for things like bunkers and 80-100 yard approaches.
Maybe that little used lob wedge could get lobbed out as 56° is probably enough to get out of most places. Callaway did suggest dropping a long iron and filling the gap with a hybrid as you will probably save more shots and use the X-Act more often than a 3 or 4 iron.
With a design and playing style that looks like a putter, the best thing is you can pretend that is exactly what you are using without having to advertise the fact that you and your wedge are not talking.
It is all about confidence in the short game and the head size, shaft length and counterbalanced grip do give you everything you need to be more X-Act around the greens.
Remember it is not how, it's how many.