The Difference Between Chipping vs Pitching
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Sean is the co-founder of My Golf Tutor, the top golf instructional blog helping weekend golfers play better golf. He played on the Irish National team that produced major champions like Rory Mcllroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington, and Darren Clarke before playing professionally for 5 years around the world.
What exactly is the difference when it comes to chipping vs pitching?
There is actually a big difference, and knowing the correct shot to play can save you anywhere from one to three strokes per round.
Dan wanted to know the difference between these shots, and when it would be appropriate to hit a pitch shot or chip shot:
Hey Sean, I have a lot of difficulty deciding the correct shot to play around the green. Sometimes I don’t know if I should be playing a chip shot or pitch shot. Do you have you any advice?
Before we get started, let’s first define what the difference is between a chip shot and pitch shot.
The pitch shot is a high shot you would hit two-thirds of the way to the pin, and it would release the last third of the way.
You would hit a chip shot lower and closer to the ground. With this shot, the ball would carry a third of the way to the pin, and release the other two-thirds.
Now, a big part of deciding what shot to play is the first thing going to be the lie.
The pitch shot…
Firstly, I’d like to point out that when hitting pitch shots or chip shots, you want the first bounce to be on the green if at all possible.
However, there will be occasions where it is impossible, and you will have to adapt to the situation.
First of all, the most important part of deciding what shot to play is assessing the lie. The second thing you want to take into consideration is what you have to hit over.
For example, do you have a sand trap or a small mound, or is it fairway?
Typically for a pitch shot – in order to get a good, consistent release – we want that first bounce of the ball to be on the green. An example of this is to imagine that we have a small mound in front of us.
We are going to need to hit a higher shot because we want to clear the mound and at the same time have that first bounce land on the green.
If I were going to hit a lower shot (a chip shot) in this situation, I would likely be bouncing it into a mound or fairway and I wouldn’t really be able to predict accurately how the ball would release.
There is a much better chance of anticipating how the ball will release once I carry over everything and the ball gets on the green.
When the ball is very close to the fringe, but just far enough off that we can’t putt the ball, then the solution is to hit a chip shot.
The chip shot is going to be a little lower to the ground and more like a putt. With the chip shot, you are going to try to carry the ball one-third of the way, and then let it release two-thirds of the way.
In this situation and from a course management standpoint, you will want to play a club with lower loft, such as a 7 or 8 iron if possible, and still have the first bounce be on the green.
The beauty of this shot is that if you miss strike it a little bit – or don’t quite hit it how you want it – it’s still going to release and get closer to the pin than if you used a sand wedge or lob wedge and miss struck with that club.
In this situation, the chip shot is a higher percentage shot, meaning that it’s a more forgiving shot on a miss hit.