Chipping vs Pitching: Key Differences You MUST Know

Golf… A beautiful sport where players are solely interested in using the fewest strokes possible in striking golf balls into holes with the aid of a variety of clubs and shot types.  In this post, we discuss chipping vs pitching.

We will dissect the differences between pitch shots and chip shots in this post so you can walk away knowing exactly what you need to bring those shots to your own game.

Chipping vs Pitching: The Complete Guide

golf ball and club

There are many subtle nuances of the game that require players to understand when and why to use certain shots. In this case, we will talk about chipping vs pitching.

When you are through you will have a total understanding of the differences between the two and when to use them in your own game.

In an attempt to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, the golfer has to accomplish multiple things along the way.  While players can take as many shots as needed, the goal is to do it in the fewest.

Having different types of shots, like pitches and chips, at your disposal will help you to do just that.

Golfers need to know things like distances, hole layouts, including details like where danger is, or what direction will the ball go when it lands, among others.

Once those details are determined, a player will need to plan their shot.  The decision the player makes after assessing all the factors will determine the shot type.  

After the tee shot, common shots are punch shots, flop shots, pitches, and chips, to name a few.

So let’s make this very simple. In pitching, you hit the ball into the air, hoping it gets near, or into the hole. This way, it spends most of its journey in the air. A pitch shot goes through a short distance, begins with a steep ascent, and ends with a steep descent, before approaching the target.

On the other hand, a chip shot is played along the ground and spends very little time in the air. Unlike in pitch shots, chip shots are hit very close to the green. This is because carrying the ball into the air is unnecessary since the ball is close to the hole.

Instead, the golfer simply chips the ball towards the hole and lets it roll out, just like a putt. 

Is It Better to Pitch or Chip in Golf?

As a golfer, you must have asked yourself this question. You see the ball, then you estimate its distance to the hole. After doing this, you ask yourself “what kind of shot should I use here? A pitch shot or a chip shot?.”

chipping vs pitching in golf

While this question remains an issue for many people around the world, it is important to know that a chip shot should always be favored over a pitch shot when possible.

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However, most times, we do not have a choice. We have to pick the shot that is best to place the ball in the hole. Sometimes, you need to get the ball in the air quickly when the terrain is difficult, and sometimes, you just look to chip it out there and let it roll out toward the hole.

Knowing which shot to play is very important, but when both shots will do the trick, a chip shot might just be the better shot to take.

Gary Player once said, “the average golfer tries to use too much loft when chipping. Unless you’re required to go over a hazard you should keep the ball as close to the ground as possible.”

My saying goes hit it high and you’ll cry!”

In other words, you are always better off keeping it low to the ground when it’s an option!

Should You Break Your Wrists When Hitting Chip Shots?

image of a golfers hands

When chipping, you shouldn’t break your wrists. One thing you should always remember is that you should never use your wrists to lift the ball into the air when attempting a chip shot. 

Getting wristy with these shots will lead to scoops, and you want to avoid that.

In making a chip shot, you should know that it is the loft of the club, and not the wrists or hands, that get the ball into the air.

For this reason, it is important to keep your wrists as hinged as possible.

What Degree Wedge Is Best for Chipping?

For golfers, a wedge is good for short-distance shots such as chips.  Plus, they increase the precision of their short game and also prevent fewer in-between spaces. So, what degree of the wedge is best for chipping?

Remember that in chipping, the ball spends most of its journey on the ground. This means that the best degree wedge for chipping is a 56-degree wedge. The 56-degree wedge is known for its versatility and its excellent ability to be used on both tight and thick lies, as well as the most difficult course conditions. 

What Degree Wedge Is Best for Pitching?

Generally, the best wedge to use for a pitch shot is a pitching wedge. Pitching wedges are named that way because they were originally designed to be used for pitch shots. However, a pitch shot can be played with other wedges like the gap wedge, the sand wedge, and the lob wedge. Typically, a pitching wedge is 45-degrees, but golfers can also pitch with lofts as high as 52 or 54 degrees.

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When to Pitch Vs. Chip

You should pitch the golf ball when;

  •  The ball lies more than five yards from the putting surface, with at least twenty feet of green to play on.
  •  A sand trap is located between the ball and the hole
  •  There is little room in front of the hole when the pit sits on top of the shelf
  •  The greens are fast and require nothing other than a lofted shot in controlling the ball.

You should chip the golf ball when;

  • The ball lies within five yards from the putting surface with at least twenty feet of green to play on.
  • There’s no sand or undulating terrain to play over.
  • The distance between the ball and the green is very close.
  • The greens are slow and require nothing other than a running and aggressive shot in controlling the ball.

Pitching Setup

Knowing how to set up a pitch shot will really improve your game. When your pitching is good, you tend to build up confidence on the course.

In attempting a pitch shot, knowing the type of wedge to use, is of utmost importance. If you have no obstacles and a lot of green ahead of you, then pitching is a great choice.

pitch vs chipping setup

If you have a lot of obstacles, and a short distance to the hole, then a sand wedge or a lob wedge will be the best wedges to use. Before starting, ensure you know just how far you need to fly the ball into the air, before landing on the green.

It’s also important to know how softly you need the ball to land. When all of these are considered, then you can proceed.

Much of this type of planning should be considered while making your pre-shot routine.

In making a pitch shot, your posture matters… a lot. Make sure you bow from your hips, with your hands located directly under the shoulders.

Try to narrow your stance and ensure you transfer weight towards the lead foot. This position will help you ensure a ball-first, and turf-second contact.

In playing a high pitch shot, you should place the ball in the middle of the stance. In playing a low running pitch, then you should place the ball at the opposite of your right heel, and play it from there.

 How to Hit a Pitch Shot (Basic Fundamentals)

  1.  Check the bounce of your wedges
  2.  Ensure proper posture
  3.  Ensure everything is done from the center
  4.  Do not lift the ball
  5.  Control your distance with your swing size
  6.  Tweak your setup when conditions become less favorable
  7.  All swings should be equal
  8.  Throw the club to hit it higher
  9.  Make use of your hands and wrists
  10.  Measure your distance
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Chipping Setup

When attempting a chip shot, set up narrow and open. By a narrow stance, we mean putting your feet inside shoulder-width apart, not outside. After doing this, the next step is to open your stance.

goilfer hitting a chip shot

By opening your stance, we mean pulling your front foot a little behind you. After doing this, ensure that about 60% of your weight is on the front foot. This can be done by favoring more of your weight on that foot.

The next step is aligning your chest with your toes. This can be done by making the chest level with the toes. To make it easier and more precise, you can imagine that you have a flashlight attached to your chest.

Try pointing that imaginary light to the front of the ball. By doing this, your chest is now aligned with your toes. Doing this will ensure ball-first contact.

After doing this, the next step is to bend your hips slightly, so you can lean out. Let your hands hang comfortably under your shoulders, making it easy to swing your golf club back straight.

The last step is to move the handle of the club towards the thigh of your lead foot. With this, you get at least 6-degrees of forward shaft lean.

How to Hit a Chip Shot (Basic Fundamentals)

Remember that a chip shot is a short game with a lower ball flight than the pitch shot.

  1.  Be in proper posture
  2.  Tweak your stance and setup
  3.  Understand your lie
  4.  Understand your chipping stroke
  5.  Develop your feel
  6.  Adjust your ball position
  7.  Calibrate your distance control
  8.  Practice with an alignment rod
  9.  Pick a target one-third away
  10.  Include chipping in your warm-up

Chipping vs Pitching – Final Thoughts

Golf courses are typically set up to present challenges. Golfers need to know when and how to certain types of shots.  Great short game players will save a ton of strokes and shoot good scores because they have the shot needed for each challenge the course presents.

Whether it’s a pitch, chip, knockdown, bump and run, low spinner, or any other shot type, golfers will benefit from being able to play any at a given time.  Pitching vs chipping is no different.

That’s a wrap!

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