Those of you who’ve had the misfortune to play golf with me in the past and those few regular visitors to this blog will know my game has its strengths and weaknesses. My long game is pretty good while my temperament is poor, my putting is fairly average but my chipping could, at best, be described as unpredictable.

I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid hitting a delicate chip with a lofted club. Well, anything golf-related that is. I don’t think I’d spend a night in a haunted house or eat a bag of live scorpions. (Perhaps if their stings had been removed.)

Sorry… Back to the matter in hand. The first, and best, method of chip-avoidance I have is to find the green in regulation. As I’m reasonably proficient from 80 yards and out I can do this quite frequently, maybe 12 or 13 times a round.

The problem is: by finding the green on a regular basis I don’t have to chip very often. So, when I am faced with the prospect of a ten-yard dink with a sand-wedge, I build it up in my head to be the biggest challenge since Edmund Hillary stood at the foot of Everest and asked Tenzing Norgay if he fancied a stroll.

When I do miss a green, the walk up the fairway is torture as I battle the demons flying threateningly and mockingly round my head. The mental anguish I suffer at the prospect of having to chip usually follows the same pattern:
The first stage is false hope, “maybe I’ll still be able to putt it,” I think. Then there’s the realisation, “No, I can’t see the ball and I’m pretty sure it’s behind that bunker.” Then the demons begin to win the battle, “Well, that means a deft shot is required so it’ll either be a duff or a thin. That’s at least, one shot gone.” Then comes the, half-hearted, Bisset mental fightback, “Surely I’ll be able to putt it!”

By the time I’ve reached the ball my emotions have been through the mill, I’m short of breath and I can feel the sweat trickling down my back. When I get there I assess the situation. I’ll look at the lie: it always appears bad to me. Even if my ball is sitting on a lush carpet of Bermuda grass I’ll spy a speck of mud or a dead ladybird behind the ball making the chip basically impossible.

Now I consider the options. 1 – can I putt it? 2 – can I use a nine iron? 3 – Can I use a gap-wedge? 4 – Do I really have to use a sand-wedge? I make a few practice swings that are pretty good then I put the patented “Bisset’s twitching deceleration” chipping technique into operation. The result will either be fantastic or disastrous. I reckon I have a one in three chance of success.

If I hit 12 greens I have six potential chipping situations. Say I can putt two of them, that leaves four. I’ll get 1.3 of those right so will drop 2.7 shots. I’ll probably make a couple of birdies a round so that means I’m 0.7 over par on average, but I’ll have a three putt somewhere – 1.7. Yup that seems about right. (Fergus, you’re forgetting the times you go OB or have to chip out sideways from the trees.)

I’m thinking about this because I played yesterday with someone who really can chip: Sophie Gustafson. I was lucky enough to be invited to play in the pro-am for the Ladies Scottish Open at The Carrick and was doubly lucky to be paired with Sophie – the defending champion. I won’t say too much about the day as I’ll write something in the mag at a later date. All I will say is that she’s a lovely person and that her chipping and pitching is awesome.

I’d do anything to get it to check on the third bounce then release up to the cup like she can. Well maybe not anything, I don’t think I’d sky dive while tied to a grand piano or do a stretch at Her Majesty’s Pleasure (perhaps in one of those low security prisons where they have Sky Sports.)