Difference Between Chipping vs Pitching in Golf: Short Game Guide

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Chipping Vs Pitching in Golf

What is the difference between Chipping Vs Pitching?

Chipping is a short game shot that is used around the edges of the putting surface. Chip golf shots tend to have a lower trajectory and have more forward roll on the golf ball toward the hole when they land. 

Pitching is also a short game shot but more frequently happens somewhere within 100 yards of the green. Pitch golf shots have a higher trajectory and generate more backspin on the golf ball, making it roll less and sometimes even backward when it lands on the green.

Good golfers should not only understand the difference between chipping and pitching but learn the techniques to execute the proper chip and pitch. Remember, golf is a game of 100 yards, so if you’re looking to drop your score, pay more attention to these golf shots. It’s heavily overlooked by beginners and most recreational golfers at the golf course.

What is a Chip Shot?

A chip shot is a low-flying shot that generates more roll on the golf ball when it lands on the green. This extra-roll is the result of using a lower lofted club (usually the 9-i, AW, or PW) when chipping. It is a simple and effective way to get the ball moving when there is nothing in your way and is the go-to shot when you’re close to the green. Chipping shots require less swing and less loft making it easier to control and hit than a pitch shot. It sometimes gets mistaken as the bump and run, but bump and runs are different in that they use an 8-iron or lower. Curious on the difference? Learn what does bump and run means now!

How to Hit a Chip Shot

Chipping Golf Swing

To hit a good chip shot, you’ll need to make adjustments to your set-up, ball positioning, and hand and grip positioning.

Stand closer to the ball than usual while ensuring your ball position is closer to your trail foot (back in your stance). Open your stance and place your feet roughly hip-width apart. To chip consistently, shift 70% to 80% of your weight on your lead foot.

If you’re closer to the green, grip the lower end of the shaft grip. But regardless of how far you are, your hands should be slightly ahead of the ball, creating a forward shaft lean. Don’t lean too much, though, as this can cause the club to dig into the ground.

The technique of chipping is fairly straightforward. Keep your arms straight and hit it like you with the putter. For those who want a better visual, think of the chipping motion as a back-and-forth pendulum. With your arms straight and wrist unchanged, together they act as the pendulum’s arm while relying almost entirely on the rotation of your upper body, your upper body is the pivot of the pendulum. Let the weight of the club head guide this smooth back-and-forth motion to hit the ball.

How far you take back your club depends on how far you’re hitting the ball, the club you use, and the conditions of the green. There’s really no way to tell you exactly how much your backswing should be. However, here are some pointers that you should consider with your chips.

  1. With a less lofted club like the 9-iron and PW, the ball will have a lower trajectory and roll quicker on the greens so be careful with using these clubs on downhills.
  2. The backswing of your chip shots does not include a wrist hinge, just like your putting stroke.

When to Use a Chip Shot

A chip shot is ideal when you have a lot of green to work with and no obstacles between you and the hole. You want the ball to land slightly further from the hole to give it enough room for the ball to roll toward it. A chip shot is also good when the green is flat or uphill, as this will help the ball slow down. Rarely is it ever recommended to on a downhill green.

What Clubs Do You Need For Chipping?

As mentioned, the standard clubs you’d be looking to use for chipping are the 9-iron, gap wedge, pitching wedge, or a golf chipper! However, if you’re hitting a thai spinner, then a 56 degree wedge or higher is ideal.

What is a Pitch Shot?

A pitch shot is a higher-flying shot that’s used when you’re still on the fairway but anywhere within 40 yards of the green. At times, pitching is a versatile and creative way to get the ball over any hazards or slopes that are in your way mainly because for beginners, you’ll often find yourself in the trees or rough from your tee shot or second golf shot. Unlike chipping, pitching is slightly harder for most as it’s used when further from the green and has a longer golf swing compared to chipping.

How to Hit a Pitch Shot

Pitching Golf Swing

There are many styles to pitching the ball, but I’m going to show you how my dad taught it to me, and what eventually worked best for me too.

First off, like chipping, to hit a good pitch shot you’ll need to make adjustments to your set-up, ball positioning, and hand and grip positioning. 

Set up to the ball with an open stance (roughly 45 degrees) where the ball sits directly in front of your trailing foot. Place 80% of your weight on your trail foot, this is the weight you should have on your trail foot through the entire swing. Then, lower your grip placement roughly an inch from standard (based on personal preference) and you’re all set.

As for the swing, think of it as a miniature golf swing. I can’t tell you how much you should be swinging the club, but it’s definitely not the same putting-style swing for chipping. With pitching, you’re going to include wrist action and body rotation, with a half follow-through.

Now for the actual shot. Before hitting the ball, practice behind the ball by sweeping the patch of grass where the ball would be lying. Really get a feel for the club head because I want you to let the club head do the work for you. From there, set up to the ball and do the same.

The swing for a pitch shot is similar to a full swing but shorter: a hinge-and-hold motion with some wrist action. The length of the swing depends on how high and far you want the ball to go. You can use different clubs for pitch shots as well, depending on how much height and spin you want. A higher lofted club like a 54, 56, 58, or 60-degree wedge will produce more height and spin, while a lower lofted club like a gap wedge or pitching wedge will produce less height and spin. The best way to find out what works for you is to practice with different clubs on the range or on the course.

When to Use a Pitch Shot

A pitch shot is ideal when you’re 40 yards from the green and when you have little green to work with or when there are obstacles between you and the hole that you need to clear. You want the ball to fly high and land softly on the green with minimal roll. A pitch shot is also good when the green is downhill or sloped away from you, as this will help the ball stop faster. 

What Clubs Do You Need For Pitching

For pitching, you’ll be looking for higher-lofted wedges (54, 56, 58, or 60 degrees). The higher and more ‘stopping’ power you’d want on your golf ball, the higher lofted wedge you should use. It’s ironic but the pitching wedge is almost never used for pitching because it generates too much roll, making it hard to control.

Similarities Between Chipping and Pitching

Both chipping and pitching are the most played shots for your short game. Though the techniques for both shots are different, pitching and chipping play a significant role in reducing your golf score. Trust me, much more than you think!

Both shots also require a very good understanding of the greens, unlike with your other long clubs where you may just focus on hitting a straight and long golf shot. Finally, for chipping and pitching, you’ll need to practice it a lot. I’d set aside 50% of your range sessions just to do this, you’ll see just how easily your score will drop naturally. When you’re practicing, follow the steps mentioned carefully but I also want you to feel like you’re letting the club do the work. So really get a feel of the weight of the club head and make your swing as smooth as possible. 

Is the Flop Shot the same as Chipping?

Flop shots are a type of chip shot that creates a ‘pop-like’ trajectory with a significant amount of backspin on the ball, making it one of the fastest ways to land the ball when it lands. However, this shot requires a completely different set of golf swing mechanics compared to your normal chip and is not advised by less experienced golfers. To hit a flop shot, golfers tend to use the sand wedge or lob wedge.

What’s Next? the Difference Between Chipping vs Pitching

Both chipping and pitching are essential skills for any golfer who wants to improve their short game and lower their scores. By knowing how to hit both shots and when to use them, you will have more options and confidence around the greens. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different clubs and techniques until you find what works best for you.

What’s Next? Learn how to use a sand wedge to hit out of a bunker! That’s a completely different shot on its own!

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Mark has been an avid golfer for more than 15 years and has reviewed golf clubs since 2015. He is also the founder of the Golf Leap Blog site.

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