Chipping vs Pitching: What’s the Difference?
Every golfer faces a dilemma when the golf ball rests mere yards from the green. Should I chip or pitch this shot onto the putting surface?
For the advanced golfer, the choice of chipping vs pitching may be easier compared to the weekend warrior. But for the mid and high handicapper, the difference between chipping and pitching could affect their final score, not only for the hole but their entire round.
In our guide, chipping vs pitching, we’ll take a deeper look at the advantages of each shot around the green.
Chipping and Pitching Fundamentals
While debating whether to hit a pitch shot or a chip shot around the green, the golfer first has to acknowledge that each shot brings benefits and potential traps to avoid.
But when deciding which of the two short game shots to deploy, there are several factors to consider.
Why You Should Hit a Chip Shot
Hitting a chip shot requires precision because you have the chance to not only get the ball close to the cup but potentially make the shot, so it has a possible reward that a pitch shot cannot reach.
Here are a few reasons you should play a chip shot consistently around the green.
Chipping With a Putting Grip for Stability
Some golfers like to utilize their putting grip when chipping the golf ball to increase stability and minimize wrist hinge. For amateurs, using the putting-style swing with limited body action provides the best path for hitting consistent short game shots.
Minimal Movement Creates Reliable Short Game
A chip shot demands more from the arms than the legs. Using a lower lofted club, a chip shot doesn’t need a full swing or lower body rotation to accomplish the overall goal of getting the ball close to the pin.
The minimized movement works to the amateur’s advantage because there are fewer moving parts.
Making sure the golf ball hits the club face with the leading edge of the sweet spot and getting just under the ball to create the lift necessary to reach the target spot remains incredibly important for the inexperienced golfer.
Keeping the Weight Forward Creates a Repeatable Chip Shot Swing
On longer chip shots, the ball position remains closer to the trail foot.
You want to place your hands forward to the center line of your lower body. With a chip shot, finesse is everything. Since we want that weight on the front foot, you’ll also find more consistency if you stand closer to the golf ball.
One of the best drills for chipping a golf ball is the “clock face” drill. This drill involves setting up a series of balls around the hole at different distances and angles and then hitting chip shots to each ball using a different club or shot technique.
To jumpstart the drill, place a ball at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock, and hit a chip shot to each ball using a different club or shot technique.
This drill produces a versatile chipping skill set that helps you learn to hit various shots with different clubs and trajectories. It can also improve your distance control and shot accuracy, making you a better chipper on the golf course.
Hitting a pitch shot requires a more natural swing motion when compared to a chip shot. This is because you aren’t taking a full swing when hitting pitch shots, but you are putting together a similar golf swing.
Here are a few reasons to hit a pitch shot from mid-range distances.
Why You Should Hit a Pitch Shot
Open Stance Creates Softness
An open stance encourages a higher shot height with a soft landing, but this style of pitch shot isn’t for the timid or inexperienced. It takes time to master hitting the ball with an open stance, so you’ll need to set aside time to practice.
Finding the right ball position with the lead foot, or front foot, open allows you to easily slide the club face under the ball for a soft shot.
Pitch Shot Offers More Feel & Creativity
Some golfers like to use the “clock” method for hitting pitch shots because it helps them with feel and distance.
For example, let’s say that a golfer with a gap wedge hits the ball 50 yards when taking the club back to waist high. He might hit the ball around 80 yards with the club stopping at shoulder height.
No matter the club, even if you are thinking of using pitching wedges, you should know where on the “clock” you need to take your golf clubs back to reach your needed distance.
Pitch Shots Provide Versatility to Your Short Game
A pitch shot demands a bit more from amateur golfers in terms of the upper body and lower body rotation working together to produce a pendulum motion that creates a smooth swing.
Although it isn’t a full swing, the pitch shot requires a longer takeaway than chip shots and a more thorough follow-through to power the ball toward the target.
On pitch shots, you want to carry the ball further than a chip shot. If you are looking for a softer landing, then using higher lofted clubs with the ball forward in your pitch shot stance will greatly benefit your short game.
One of the best drills for pitching the ball is the “ladder” drill. This drill involves setting up a series of balls at increasing distances from the hole, starting with a short pitch and then gradually increasing the distance with each shot.
Start the drill by hitting a pitch from 20 yards, then 30 yards, then 40 yards, and so on, until you reach your maximum pitching distance.
Over time, this drill develops a consistent and repeatable pitching swing and improves your ability to control the distance and trajectory of your shots.
It can also help you create a feel for the different clubs and shot techniques you can use for pitching, making you a better pitch player on the golf course.
3 Things to Avoid When Chipping and Pitching
Here are three short game tips you should consider before hitting these two shots. These tips will definitely help you avoid bogeys and save more pars.
1. Keeping Weight on Back Foot
One of the biggest mistakes that amateurs make when chipping and pitching the golf ball is keeping their weight on their back foot. By leaving the weight back in the stance, you increase the odds of not getting a clean strike on the ball.
Especially when chipping the ball, you want your hands and weight forward at address. With pitch shots, we encourage a more neutral ball position with a wrist hinge, but the weight finishes on the lead foot at the end of that swing.
2. Flipping Wrists on Chip Shot
One of the most significant differences when looking at chipping vs. pitching is the wrists’ action. With most chip shots, especially if you are hitting a run or low shot along a target line, you are hitting most of these shots with your wrists locked and forward of the impact spot.
Yes, if you want to hit the ball higher, you need to engage the wrists differently.
But remember, with golf chipping, we want to keep the ball lower, so our flight distance is smaller and we have more room to get the ball rolling to maintain control. To do that, we must keep the wrists quiet and firm during the chip shot.
Golfers can flick their wrists at the ball when chipping because they want the ball started.
3. Failing to Set Up the Putt on Pitch Shots
Another fatal flaw most amateurs make when pitching the golf ball is failing to see the terrain ahead when making this short game shot.
If you are hitting a soft gap wedge pitch shot into a green, for example, you need to visualize the target line where you want to hit your next putt rather than ripping the ball toward the pin. That’s not what experienced golfers do to post a low score.
Since a pitch shot typically needs to carry the ball farther than a chip shot, the result of the pitch shot depends mainly upon where the ball lands, so pay attention to your target spot before hitting the pitch shot.
Chipping vs Pitching FAQs
What’s the difference between pitching and chipping?
The main difference between chipping and pitching a golf ball is the distance that the ball travels.
Chipping is a short shot used to get the ball onto the green from close range, typically from within 25 yards of the hole. Chipping involves using a club with plenty of loft, such as a wedge, to hit the ball with a high trajectory and a soft landing.
In contrast, a pitch shot is a longer shot used to get the ball onto the green from longer distances, typically 25 to 50 yards from the hole. Hitting a pitch shot involves using a club with less loft, such as a 7 or 8 iron, to hit the ball with a lower trajectory and a more controlled roll.
Specialized shots, such as a flop shot, aren’t classified as either chip shot or pitch shots, although they are all short shots due to the uniqueness of the shot.
What is the rule of 12 in chipping?
The rule of 12 in chipping a golf ball is a technique that can help golfers to determine the right club and shot technique to use for a given chipping situation.
The rule states that if the distance to the hole is 12 feet, you should aim to land the ball 12 feet in front of the hole and let it roll the remaining distance.
For distances greater than 12 feet, you should aim to land the ball a proportionately longer distance in front of the hole, using the same ratio of 1:1.
For example, if the distance to the hole is 24 feet, you should aim to land the ball 24 feet in front of the hole and let it roll the remaining length. This rule can be a helpful guide for determining the right club and shot technique to use for a given chipping situation.
Should I chip with my pitching wedge?
As a high handicapper, you may find it beneficial to use your pitching wedge for chipping. This is because the PW has less loft than other wedges, making it easier to hit the ball with a lower trajectory and a more controlled roll.
This can be helpful for high handicappers who may struggle with the delicate touch and precise clubhead control required for chipping with a higher-lofted club.
However, it is essential to remember that the best club for chipping will depend on the individual golfer and the specific situation. Experimenting with different clubs and shot techniques may help you find the one that works best for you.
What club is used for chipping?
The best club for chipping the golf ball depends on the golfer and the specific situation. In general, a sand wedge is the most common club used for chipping, as it has a high amount of loft that can help to get the ball airborne quickly and land softly on the green.
However, some golfers may find it easier to use a club with less ball flight, such as a 7 or 8 iron, for chipping. The key is choosing a club that allows you to hit the ball with the desired trajectory and roll and feels comfortable and confident in your hands.
Advanced golfers, such as PGA pros, use a variety of clubs when chipping, including a lob wedge, due to their elevated skill level. In comparison, most mid and high handicappers would be better served by utilizing one club to create consistent chipping.