Chipping vs Pitching in Golf: Mastering Techniques for Better Course Performance

Colin McCarthy

Chipping vs pitching in golf

Mastering the short game in golf can shave strokes off your score and boost your confidence on the course. Knowing when to chip versus when to pitch is crucial for making the right shot at the right time.

Chipping involves a lower flight and more roll, making it ideal for situations where you have a clean look at the ball and need precision.

On the other hand, pitching sends the ball higher with more spin, perfect for getting over obstacles or stopping quickly near a tricky pin placement.

Understanding these differences and when to apply each technique will significantly enhance your performance and lower your handicap.

So, let’s dive into the key factors that determine whether you should chip or pitch in various scenarios.

Chipping vs. Pitching in Golf

Chipping and pitching are two distinct techniques used in golf for shots around the green, but they serve different purposes and are executed differently. Understanding when and how to use each can significantly improve your short game.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Definitions and Key Differences

Chipping involves a low shot that flies briefly and rolls extensively. Position the ball slightly back in your stance with more weight forward and a short, compact swing.

Chippers often use wedges or irons like a 7, 8, or 9. Expect the ball to cover one-third of the distance in the air and two-thirds on the ground.

Pitching, on the other hand, involves a higher trajectory and more spin. Balance your weight evenly and engage your wrists to get under the ball.

This technique uses higher lofted clubs, such as a 54, 56, 58, or 60-degree wedge. Pitch shots fly more and roll less, ideal for distances up to 30 yards.

Importance in the Short Game

Mastering chipping and pitching boosts your short game and improves your overall score. Use chips for precision around the green and to navigate short distances and flat terrain effortlessly.

Use pitches to tackle obstacles and make quick stops, vital for varied course conditions. Understanding when to use each shot is crucial.

Practice both techniques to enhance versatility. Remember, a dependable short game can be the key to lowering your handicap.

Technical Aspects of Chipping

Chipping is a crucial skill in golf, allowing players to manage short-distance shots with precision and control.

Here’s a detailed look at the technical aspects of chipping:

Ideal Conditions for Chipping

Chipping works best when you’re close to the green, typically within a few yards. This shot is ideal when there are no significant obstacles between the ball and the hole.

Chipping allows the ball to get on the green quickly and roll toward the hole, making it effective on flat or slightly sloped terrain.

Use chipping when you have a clear path to the hole and the grass between the ball and the hole is closely mown.

Club Selection

Use clubs like a 7-iron through pitching wedge for chipping. These clubs keep the ball low and allow it to roll out more.

However, for pitching, you should opt for higher-lofted clubs such as a sand wedge or lob wedge. Pitching is used to execute higher, softer shots that land softly on the green with minimal roll.

Stance Setup

Position your feet close together, with slightly more weight on your lead foot. This setup helps maintain balance and control. For chipping, a shorter swing ensures precision.

Conversely, pitching requires a fuller swing to achieve higher trajectories. Focus on selecting the right club and practice regularly to master both techniques.

Ball Position

Place the ball slightly back in your stance, near your back foot. This encourages a downward strike.

This encourages a downward strike, helping the ball stay low and roll further upon landing. For pitching, position the ball in the center of your stance to achieve a higher, softer landing.

Hand Position

Keep your hands ahead of the ball at address. This forward press helps ensure a descending blow. This is crucial for both chipping and pitching, as it promotes better ball contact and spin control.

By maintaining this technique, you can achieve more accurate and consistent shots around the green.

Swing Motion

Use a putting-like stroke with minimal wrist action. Focus on making a controlled, compact swing. This technique helps maintain consistency and accuracy.

In contrast, pitching requires a fuller swing with more wrist hinge to achieve greater height and distance. While both techniques are essential, knowing when to chip versus pitch can significantly impact your score.

Chipping is best for shorter shots near the green, whereas pitching is ideal for longer, higher approach shots.

Follow Through

Ensure a low follow-through. This maintains the low trajectory and allows the ball to roll out as intended.

In contrast, when pitching, you’ll want to open your stance slightly and use a more lofted club. This helps in achieving a higher flight, offering better control over where the ball lands and stops.

Additionally, pay attention to your weight distribution, favoring your lead foot for pitches to ensure a clean, descending strike. Mastering both techniques can give you a strategic edge on the course.

Technical Aspects of Pitching

Pitching is an essential skill in golf, enabling players to execute higher and softer shots that land softly on the green. Mastering the technical aspects of pitching can greatly enhance a golfer’s short game.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of these technical aspects:

Ideal Conditions for Pitching

Use pitching when you need to get the ball in the air quickly with minimal roll, particularly from distances up to 30 yards. Ideal conditions include hitting over obstacles, like bunkers or rough, where ground time isn’t possible.

Employ a pitch shot when you need precise control landing on a specific spot on the green as it minimizes the ball’s rollout. High trajectory allows you to stop the ball quickly on the green, useful for downhill lies or fast greens.

Basic Techniques for Effective Pitching

Adopt an open stance with feet closer together for greater control during pitching. Keep weight slightly forward on the lead foot to ensure clean contact. Focus on turning your body away from the target during your backswing and then toward the target on the follow-through. Avoid slowing down the swing to prevent deceleration.

Set Up

Position the ball in the middle of your stance, open the clubface slightly, and grip down on the club. For better control and precision, make sure your weight is slightly forward.

During the backswing, keep your wrists firm and focus on a smooth follow-through to ensure a clean, crisp contact.


Rotate your shoulders, maintaining the triangle formed by your arms and shoulders. When pitching, it’s crucial to hinge your wrists to create a higher, softer shot.

On the other hand, for chipping, keep your wrists firm to ensure a lower and more controlled roll toward the hole.


Shift weight to the lead foot and make a descending blow, contacting the ball before the ground. This technique helps ensure a crisp, clean strike. For pitching, focus on a longer swing and more wrist hinge to get the ball height and distance you need.


Maintain a high finish to ensure acceleration through impact, resulting in a higher trajectory. Maintain a high finish to ensure acceleration through impact, resulting in a higher trajectory.

On the other hand, when chipping, your goal is more about control and precision, often keeping the ball low.

Choosing Between Chipping and Pitching

When faced with the decision of whether to chip or pitch the ball in golf, several factors come into play. Understanding these factors will help you make the best decision for each situation.

Here’s a guide to help you choose between chipping and pitching:

Factors Influencing the Choice

Selecting between a chip and a pitch shot in golf depends on several critical factors. The lie of the ball plays a key role. When you have a clean view of the back of the ball, as on the fairway or with a good lie in the rough, choose a chip shot.

This approach allows for a controlled, putt-like roll toward the hole. If the lie is poor or obscured, opt for a pitch shot to get the ball airborne and ensure a soft landing.

The shot requirement is perhaps the most vital consideration. Choose a chip shot when you’re close to the green and there’s no need to clear obstacles.

A pitch shot, however, is preferable when you need to carry the ball over bunkers or rough and require it to stop quickly near the pin.

Your skill level also influences this decision. A chip shot is generally easier to master due to its simpler execution. Pitch shots require precise control over distance and spin, making them more challenging but essential for advanced techniques.

Player Examples and Scenarios

Imagine a scenario where you’re just off the green with an unobstructed path to the hole. Here, a chip shot is ideal. You can make a clean strike and let the ball roll toward the cup with minimal air time, enhancing your control and accuracy.

Conversely, consider a situation where you’re facing a bunker between your ball and the green. In this case, a pitch shot is the right choice.

You need to lift the ball over the obstacle to ensure it lands softly, reducing the risk of rolling past the hole.

For beginners, it’s advisable to prioritize chip shots to build confidence and consistency. Advance to pitch shots as your skill level improves, allowing you to handle more complex situations with greater ease.

Practical Tips for Improving Chipping and Pitching

Improving your chipping and pitching skills in golf can significantly enhance your short game and lower your scores.

Here are some practical tips to help you refine these techniques:

Drills for Better Technique

Focus on drills that enhance your chipping and pitching skills to gain better control around the greens.

Gate Drill for Chipping

Place two tees in the ground slightly wider than your club head. Practice hitting chip shots through the gate without touching the tees. This improves your precision and ensures a straight path to the target.

Landing Spot Drill for Pitching

Place a towel or any visible marker on the green where you want the ball to land. Use different wedges to practice hitting the ball to that exact spot. This helps in controlling distance and understanding how the ball will react upon landing.

One-Handed Chipping Drill

Practice chipping with only your lead hand on the club. This drill helps develop proper feel and control, making sure your lead hand guides the swing effectively.

Clock Drill for Pitching

Imagine a clock around your body, with numbers representing various positions of the swing. Practice pitching using specific “times” to create different shot distances. For example, a 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock swing might represent a certain yardage.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Identify and correct common mistakes to enhance your chipping and pitching efficiency.

Too Much Wrist Action

Avoid excessive wrist movement during chipping, which can lead to inconsistent shots. Focus on a more pendulum-like motion where your shoulders and arms do most of the work.

Incorrect Weight Distribution

Ensure slightly more weight is on your lead foot during both chipping and pitching. This provides better control and prevents fat or thin shots.

Poor Ball Position

Position the ball correctly in your stance—center for chipping and slightly forward for pitching. Improper ball positioning can lead to mishit shots.


Always accelerate through the ball, especially on pitch shots. Deceleration often causes the ball to come up short. Keep a continuous motion and trust your swing.

Ignoring the Lie

Always assess the lie of the ball before deciding on a chip or pitch. A poor lie might necessitate a different approach to prevent the club from digging into the ground.

Frequently Asked Questions

What club should I use for chipping around the green?

Select a club that you feel most confident with. Many players opt for a pitching wedge or a 7-iron as these clubs allow for better control and accuracy close to the green.

How can I get height on my chip shots?

To achieve a higher shot, place the ball forward in your stance with the handle of the club slightly back. Release the clubhead early during the downswing to create more dynamic loft and make the ball fly higher.

Does a chip shot have a lower trajectory than a pitch?

Yes, a chip shot generally has a lower trajectory compared to a pitch shot. The shaft lean and lower launch angle contribute to a more controlled and lower flight path in chip shots.

What is the golden rule of pitching in golf?

The golden rule of pitching in golf is maintaining control over your landing spot. This control is crucial when you need to overcome obstacles like bunkers and provides precision in placing the ball near the hole.

Is pitching the same as a full swing?

A pitch shot and a full swing are similar, but the pitch swing is shorter. Both involve an upward backswing and downward contact with the ball. The key difference lies in the pitch shot’s smaller swing arc.


Mastering both chipping and pitching is crucial for elevating your golf game. Each technique has its place and knowing when to use them can make a significant difference in your performance. Whether you’re navigating an unobstructed path or overcoming obstacles like bunkers, the right choice can save you strokes.

Remember to practice regularly using drills like the Gate Drill for Chipping and the Landing Spot Drill for Pitching. By avoiding common mistakes such as excessive wrist action and poor ball positioning, you’ll gain better control and precision.

Ultimately, the key to becoming a well-rounded golfer lies in your ability to adapt and apply these techniques effectively. Keep refining your skills and enjoy the improvements on the course short game.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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