Chipping vs. Pitching In Golf: Everything You Need To Know

Chipping and pitching are two of the most important skills that a golfer can have. When you have the ability to hit chips and pitches close to the hole, your entire strategy of playing golf can change. However, the good news is that almost all golfers have an equal opportunity to be great at chipping and pitching. 

The more variety in shots you know how to hit around the green, the better you have to score low. 

The key is to learn how to get this process down, and I have all the tips you need. First, let’s discover the differences between chipping and pitching and move forward from there. 

Difference Between Chipping and Pitching In Golf 

The main difference between chipping and pitching is the height of your golf shot. A chip is a shot that will roll quite a bit when it lands on the green; a pitch will stop almost where it lands on the green. 

To produce different types of pitch and chip shots, you will need to learn techniques with all of your wedges. In addition, you should learn how to identify where to use a pitch and where to use a chip shot. Regardless of the type of player you are, chipping and pitching are necessary skills to learn. 

When Should You Chip Or Pitch?

It is essential to learn when to chip and pitch. Therefore, we will put together a variety of scenarios for chips and pitches to figure out the exact location and type of shot that you need at any given time. Once you understand these, you will be able to make smarter decisions on the course. 

golf chip pitch

When To Chip 

  • When the pin is in the back of the green 
  • Where there is a long approach up to a golf hole 
  • If there is trouble high, i.e. branches 
  • If the greens are very fast and you are worried about forward spin 

Chipping tends to be the easier of the two skills to learn. When you chip, you keep the ball lower to the ground, and as most great players will tell you, this eliminates the chance of some error.

If you decide that chipping is the best way to reach the hole, it is essential that you keep the movements to a minimum and you start to control the length of the shots that you hit. 

When chipping, it is much easier to get the feel down because the motion tends to be smaller. In addition, golfers seem to pick up on the idea of chipping quite a bit easier because it feels like a natural minimization of the large golf swing. 

A chip shot is typically used when you have quite a bit of green to work with. Since most of the time, the ball will be on the ground, it is a good thing to let this one just roll out towards the target. 

I notice that when I try to chip to a pin on the front of the green, I almost always hit the ball past the pin. However, when the pin is on the back of the green, and I choose a chip shot, it seems easier to get it close and potentially make a putt. 

Many golfers playing on fast greens tend to worry about how a ball can run off the green. The nice thing about a chip is that you can stop it well before the hole and let it roll the rest of the way to the pin with much less speed on it. 

This is the first short game shot that beginner golfers should learn and perfect. 

golf pitch

When To Pitch 

  • If you don’t have much green to work with 
  • When the ball needs to stop quickly 
  • If the green is sloped and your placement needs to be exact 
  • When you are able to control spin on your golf shots 

Pitching requires a bit more work when it comes to learning how to complete this shot. Since pitching typically needs a larger swing, more ball flight, and more spin, it takes some time to get the mechanics down. 

Pitch shots are great when you want to attack a pin. You can get the ball to land directly at the hole and have it just release a few feet. This really helps to ensure that you are placing the ball exactly where it needs to be. 

Most of the time, with a pitch shot, you will need clean contact with the ball to get it to spin the way you want it to. This means that fairway and fringe type lie will be the best choice for those trying to pitch the ball. 

Out of the rough, golfers need to prepare for quite a bit more roll coming from a pitch shot. If you get really good at controlling spin and learning to stop the ball, you can start to hit some impressive pitch shots from various locations. 

Typically speaking, the higher lofted clubs are preferred over, the lower lofted clubs when hitting pitches. The higher wedge loft helps get the ball to stop on the green a bit easier after it lands. 

How To Hit A Pitch Shot (Basic Fundamentals)

Now that we have given you all the details about when to hit a pitch and hit a chip, let’s take a better look at the basic fundamentals of hitting a pitch shot. 

Step 1 (Plan The Shot) 

With pitching, you want to make sure that you pick the exact shot you want to hit. You will need to visualize how the ball will fly and where it is going to land. Most of the time, a pitch shot will release a bit when it hits the green, so you must be prepared for that. Always visualize your shot and know exactly where you want to land the ball. As you get better at golf, you will realize the flag is not always your target. 

Step 2 (Pick The Club)

The golf club that you choose should be something with a bit higher loft. The higher loft allows you to get the ball up in the air and allow it to stop on a dime. If you don’t use a club with enough loft, the ball will roll out a bit further than expected. 

Step 3 (Narrow Stance) 

When pitching, there is no sense in having a typical wide golf stance. When your feet are too far apart, and you are set up to hit a bit shot, the ball will go far. Pitch shots are for around the green only and require you to stand with your feet a bit closer together. 

Step 4 (Club Face Square) 

When taking a pitch shot, use the loft to help you get the ball up in the air. You shouldn’t need to manipulate the clubface all that much. Instead, choose something like a sand or lob wedge and then aim with its square to the target. 

Step 5 (Modified Backswing Length)

Pitch shots should not require a large backswing. You will learn the different length backswings for each of your pitch shots, but most will be around ¼ ½ or ¾ type golf swings. Most of the time, the club rarely comes above waist high on the backswing.  

Step 6 (Tempo and Finish Strong) 

Lastly, you need to ensure that your tempo is excellent when you hit a pitch shot. If you try and get a bit fast or forget to accelerate through the shot, the results will not be good. Instead, focus on continuing to move the club through the ball and finish facing the target. Watch to see if your pitch shot lands near the spot you planned, and practice to ensure you start getting closer and closer. 

How To Hit A Chip Shot (Basic Fundamentals) 

Hitting a chip shot is one of the basic golf shots taught to every new player. When you have the fundamentals of a chip shot down, you can do so much on the golf course. Here are the best steps to follow when hitting a chip shot.

Step 1 (Plan The Landing & Read The Green) 

When hitting a chip shot, you must learn to read the green. Since the ball will roll longer than it will fly, you must make sure that it can roll towards the hole. You have to read the break for a chip shot like you would with a putt. 

Step 2 (Evaluate The Lie) 

Next, it is important to evaluate the lie that you have. A ball that is coming out of the rough is going to have a hard time stopping. Although it will eventually come to rest, it may not be where you expect it to. You will need to land this shot very close to you and expect quite a bit of roll. With a clean lie, you can expect there will be a bit of spin. 

Step 3 (Choose The Club)

Most of the time, a great club to use for a chip shot is a pitching wedge. However, many people will also use an 8-iron or a 9-iron. The higher lofted clubs tend to stop on the green a bit too soon, and it will cause you to end up too short of your pin. Remember, these chip shots are supposed to roll, and they don’t need quite as much loft.  

Step 4 (Compact And Low Swing) 

Next, you are going to want to create a more compact swing. Many people will treat their chip shot much like a putting stroke as far as the length and size of the swing. Most chip shots will not require you to get to a swing length where you will break your wrists. Your arms tend to say rather straight, and the shot almost feels like a slight pop. 

Step 5 (Accelerate Through The Shot) 

When hitting any shot around the green (even including putts!), the most important thing is to make sure that you accelerate through the shot. If you slow down for any reason, you will have a hard time making solid contact. Always accelerate through your golf shot and finish facing the target. 

What Is The Best Club To Use For Chipping? 

The best club to use for chipping tends to be the pitching wedge. Although this wedge has the word pitching in it, it tends to do a great job of rolling towards the hole instead of stopping and spinning. 

In addition to the pitching wedge, it is a good idea to learn how to pitch with several of your irons. For example, you may need minimal swings and movement to get the motion down with a 7, 8, 9 iron. 

As a golfer, I have come to learn that the less movement required, the better it is for me to be able to repeat a shot. After all, being consistent is going to be the most crucial step towards lowering golf scores. 

What Is The Best Club To Use For Pitching? 

The best club to use for pitching is usually the sand wedge or around a 56-degree wedge. Many people will also use their gap wedge or their lob wedge as well. The key is to have a bit of spin and loft so that the ball will stop on the green where you need it to. 

Remember that pitching takes a bit more work to perfect. The swing tends to be larger, and there is more room for error. When you choose a club to pitch with, ensure that it is something that you are confident in so that you can repeat the shot. 

Conclusion: Chipping vs. Pitching

As golfers, there are some shots that you must learn to hit, and chips and pitches are two of them. These shots are essential, and they are necessary. Without knowing how to hit a chip or a pitch, you will struggle on the course. 

Although you may find that chipping or pitching is easier for you, do yourself a favor and learn various shots with all different types of golf clubs. If you know how to hit lots of different shots, your ability to score will be considerably better. The great thing about chipping and pitching is that you can go out in your yard and practice it today! 

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with decades of experience playing this amazing sport. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn, improve and enjoy the game of golf.