One of the greatest misconceptions about one’s short game in golf is that chipping and pitching are one and the same. While they both fall in the category of “short game”, there is a distinct difference between the two. But we’ll get into the differences between the two in a later section. Because in today’s article we are going to be covering everything relating to chipping and pitching.
Perhaps the greatest outcome in learning about chipping vs. pitching is the ability to recognize when one is better than the other. This means you can use the right tool at the right time to get a more consistent shot with a better chance of success. And the best part? There is only a small difference in swing and stance between the two. That way you can master each in only a matter of hours.
So if you are ready to jump into the nitty-gritty of chipping and pitching, read on!
Chipping vs. Pitching
What is the difference between chipping and pitching?
The honest truth is that the difference between chipping and pitching is so small that most golfers don’t even notice. But there is a difference. And this difference, when mastered, can help golfers consistently get the ball closer to the hole. So what’s the main difference? Launch height.
With a chip shot, the goal is to keep the golf ball closer to the ground bouncing it towards the target. This style of shot is also known as a “bump and run”. Most times a chip shot is made with a mid-iron or hybrid. Regular wedges can also be used.
Pitch shots on the other hand are meant to launch high for better clearance of hazards like sand traps and water. Because of the need for launch height, pitch shots are usually only hit with high lofted wedges. This is a much more difficult type of shot compared to chipping.
When to Chip
Deciding when to chip can be a bit of a difficult decision. Since a chip shot is meant to run and bounce along the ground you certainly need favorable turf conditions between you and the target. Plus you also have to take into account the distance between you and the hole. Because a long-range chip shot probably isn’t as viable as a full or half swing with another wedge or iron.
So with all this in mind, the ideal zone to chip the golf ball in within 20 yards to the green. It’s most viable when your ball is next to or on the fringe of the green. You can chip the ball at longer distances, say 50 yards. But this distance will require perfect ground conditions for a good outcome.
How to hit a chip shot?
Hitting a chip shot takes a bit of practice depending on the distance. Shots close to the green only require a putter type of stroke while longer shots may need quarter and half swings.
- Grip – Due to chip shots being a shorter and more precise shot type they require a choked-up grip. Don’t grip the club too short that your fingers are around the shaft. Aim for a grip that puts your leading fingers at the bottom of the grip.
- Stance – Since your swing will be short and similar to a putt, go for a stance that puts your feet about shoulder-width apart. Make sure your stance also accounts for any sloped ground or weird lies.
- Aim – Correctly aiming a chip shot can take a bit of practice. Because of different types of slope, grass types, and distance, golfers need to take into account how the golf ball will react while rolling to its target. This makes aiming a chip shot a bit of an art rather than science.
- Swing – For chips right from the fringe of the green, a very short putter style of swing is all that is needed. Of course for longer shots, quarter swings may be required. Most chip shots will never require more than half swing.
- Impact – A nice, square impact is what is needed to get the ball moving. Definitely make sure that the clubface is square at impact or you will experience blocked and pushed shots.
When to Pitch
Choosing when to pitch is usually much easier than determining when to chip. Generally, if you find your golf ball behind some type of hazard, most commonly sand, it’s time to hit a pitch shot. Pitch shots are also helpful when you find yourself on a hefty slope or a lie that does not favor an easier chip shot.
As for pitch shot distance, most pitch shots come from within 50 yards of the green. Because of the height needed all pitch shots are hit with high lofted wedges. Common wedge lofts used for effective pitching include 56 degrees through 60 degrees.
How to hit a pitch shot?
Hitting a pitch shot is of medium difficulty, but if you let the club do the work then it should be a piece of cake. Remember to keep your cool when facing a pitch over a hazard. Instead of focusing on the hazard, focus on your target and technique.
- Grip – For pitch shots grip can be changed according to the shot length. Most times though, a neutral grip is preferred. Most golfers who choose to pitch shots near or next to the green do choke up on the club to get a better feel for the clubhead.
- Stance – A neutral stance about shoulder-width apart is normal for most pitch shots. But the biggest factor is comfort. Feeling comfortable during a pitch shot can help calm your nerves and place more focus on your shot.
- Aim – Since pitching includes a high ball flight, it can be a bit more of a guessing game compared to short-range chipping. We recommend aiming where you want the ball to land taking into account any immediate threats (ie. overhanging branches, heavy slopes, etc.).
- Swing – A pitch shot swing should be very similar to that of a regular golf swing. Even on short pitches, remember to accelerate through the downswing. This will keep you from chunking or thinning the golf ball at impact.
- Impact – A crisp and solid impact is a necessity for any successful pitch shot. It’s also important at impact to let the club’s bounce work to get the ball off the ground. Don’t try to help the ball up into the air at impact as this usually results in a very costly mishit.
You’ve made it to the end of our article on chipping vs. chipping. We hope that this article has cleared up all the confusion around the differences between hitting a chip or a pitch. And as a recap, the main differences between the two are that chip shots are low running shots where pitch shots launch higher for more carry.
But to effectively use both chip and pitch shots correctly in your short game, you’ll need to practice. Because by practicing both of these shots, you can quickly determine which method will work best in any given situation.
Plus you can get a better feel for more difficult styles of shots without affecting your on-course score. There are also a variety of great chipping and pitching drills that can be included in your practice routine.
In the end, chipping and pitching are two very similar, yet very different short game techniques. But once mastered and used at the right times, these two techniques can take your golf game to the next level!