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Chip Shots vs. Pitch Shots: What’s the Difference?

Do you understand the difference between chipping and pitching? If not, don’t worry you are not alone. It is widely understood among golfers that the crucial component of the game is the short game. This fact is repeatedly conveyed to us through lessons, fellow players, commentators on TV, and articles in magazines. 

The majority of golfers face a significant challenge when it comes to their short game. Whether the ball is in the rough or the short grass surrounding the green, it can be quite arduous to execute short game shots that effectively position the ball close to the hole. In this guide, you will be guided on how to execute chip shots and pitch shots. The distinction between chipping and pitching, and the significance of determining which shot to play.

Let us commence with the fundamentals. A chip shot is a low trajectory shot that travels along the ground, spending minimal time in the air. Typically, chip shots are played around the green where it is not imperative to carry the ball far in the air. In golf, the primary goal of a chip shot is to initiate the ball’s motion and let it roll towards the hole, similar to a putt. You can execute chip shots with various clubs, ranging from wedges to even as low as a #7 iron.

On the other hand, a pitch shot is designed to travel more through the air and does not have as much roll as a chip shot. It covers more distance than chip shots and can be executed from longer distances of up to approximately 30 yards. This shot ascends higher and covers more ground in the air than a chip shot. This shot is best executed using higher lofted clubs like a 54, 56, 58, or 60-degree utility wedge.

In this article will explain the differences between chip and pitch including the following.

  • Preparing for Chip and Pitch Shots 
  • Executing a Chip Shot
  •  Executing a Pitch Shot 
  • Determining When to Pitch shots vs Chip

HOW TO Prepare for Chip and Pitch Shots

While chip and pitch shots have some differences, they share a lot of similarities, especially in their setup. To properly set up for a short game shot, it is crucial to keep a narrow stance. Position your feet no further than one foot apart, square your trailing foot to your target line, and consider opening up your lead foot. When it comes to your stance and positioning, strive to be either square to the target or slightly open, but never closed. As a result, the line of your shoulders should also be square to the target or slightly open.

There are two additional crucial elements to consider. Firstly, your weight should always be more towards your lead foot, and secondly, your shoulders should be level. It is crucial not to lean your spine backward as you would with a full shot. To establish the proper setup, using an alignment tool like Swing Align can be exceedingly beneficial.

How to Executing a Chip Shot

The skill of executing a chip shot is indispensable for every golf player regardless of their expertise level. Even if you are an accomplished player hitting 15 greens during a round or a novice hitting only two, there will come a situation where you find yourself close to the green and require chipping to place the ball near the hole in order to avoid a bogey. 

How to hit a chip shot guide:

  • Selecting the Appropriate Club – A common error committed by many amateur golfers when playing around the green is hastily resorting to their lob or sand wedge. While these clubs can be useful, mastering their techniques takes a significant amount of time. For a successful chip shot, it is advisable to use pitching wedges, or even 9-iron or 8-iron clubs. These clubs will help the ball roll towards the hole, and limit the number of mistakes made around the green.
  • Achieving the Correct Stance – Unlike a full swing or pitch shot, a closer stance to the ball is desirable when executing a chip shot. To execute the shot correctly, it is advisable to shift around 70% of your weight onto your lead foot, which would be the left foot for right-handed players and the right foot for left-handed players. This adjustment enables a cleaner ball strike, rather than hitting the ground behind the ball.
  • Positioning the Ball – Since the objective of a chip shot is not to carry the ball a great distance, it is advisable to place the ball slightly back from the center of your sternum. This ball position ensures that your hands are ahead of the ball, and the shaft has a slight forward lean.
  • Choking Down – Since a chip shot is similar to a putt and requires control, you can choke down on the club. However, when performing full swings and certain pitch shots, you need the full length of the club, but you should adjust the grip for increased control when chipping.
  • Choosing the Landing Point – A crucial aspect of chipping is imagining where the ball should land. A useful guideline is to aim to land the ball approximately 20% of the way to the hole. With the correct loft club and the appropriate amount of power, the ball will then roll toward the hole.
  • Using the Shoulders – The chip shot resembles a putt, except a lofted club is utilized instead of a flat stick. Keep your hands slightly ahead of the ball and use a smooth motion, avoiding any deceleration when approaching the ball. A pitch shot does not require any lower body rotation or movement. Still, on the downswing, your lower body can follow the upper body and turn slightly towards the hole at the finish.

Avoid Mistakes When Chipping:

One of the most common mistakes golf players make when chipping is hitting the ball too hard, resulting in it rolling too far past the hole. Another mistake is hitting the ball too thin, causing it to fly too far and land off the green. To avoid these mistakes, golf players should focus on keeping their swing short and controlled and striking the ball towards the bottom of the clubface.

Examples of When to Use Chipping:

Golf players use chipping when they are close to the green and need to get the ball in the air and rolling as quickly as possible. It is also used when there are obstacles between the ball and the green, such as a bunker, water, or rough. For example, if the player’s ball is just off the green, they could use a chip shot to get it onto the green and close to the hole.

HOW TO Executing a Pitch Shot

Although the pitch shot may share some similarities with the chip shot in terms of technique, it necessitates a distinct approach. Mastering pitch shots in golf is crucial because you will not always find yourself positioned right next to the green. Frequently, you will need to hit the ball higher and convey it over a rough or bunker. These shots attain greater distance than chips and come to a halt more quickly, providing you the opportunity to save par even in challenging circumstances.

How To Hit a Chip Shot guide:

  • Selecting the Appropriate Club – To execute a pitch shot with precision, it is essential to choose a club with more loft than a chip shot. The recommended clubs for this shot are the gap wedge, sand iron, or lob wedge. These wedges create a higher trajectory, allowing the ball to have a soft landing.
  • Positioning Yourself Correctly – When taking a pitch shot in golf, it is best to adopt a stance that falls somewhere between that of a chip shot and a full swing shot. To take a pitch shot in golf, you should position yourself closer to the ball compared to a full swing shot, but not as close as you would for a chip shot. Ensure that most of your weight is on your lead foot, and position the ball in the center with minimal shaft lean.
  • Determine Your Target Landing Spot – Your target landing spot will depend on the club you select for the shot. Experts typically advise aiming for a spot that is approximately halfway between your current position and the hole. The loft of your club will enable the ball to land softly and roll out, but not as much as a chip shot.
  • Open the Clubface and Accelerate Your Stroke – A common mistake in executing pitch shots is deceleration or the leading edge of the wedge sticking in the ground. To prevent this, it is crucial to open the face of your wedge slightly. This allows you to use the bounce on the wedge’s bottom surface to avoid sticking in the ground. To achieve an effective stroke, maintain your confidence and accelerate through the strike.
  • Incorporate the Proper Technique – Unlike a chip shot, a pitch shot is closer to your full swing. Incorporate a little trail arm fold and rotation and some wrist hinge as you take the club back. However, it is essential to control the shot mainly with your body rotation, ensuring that you are not too “handsy.” Similar to a chip shot, you do not need lower body rotation on the way back, but your lower body should rotate towards the target on the downswing and follow through.

Avoid Mistakes When Pitching:

One of the most common mistakes golfers make when pitching is hitting the ball too hard, resulting in it flying past the green. Another mistake is not following through with the swing, resulting in a weak shot. To avoid these mistakes, golf players should focus on keeping their swing smooth and controlled and striking the ball towards the middle of the clubface.

Examples to Use Pitching:

Golfers use pitching when they are farther away from the green and need to get the ball in the air for a longer distance before it lands on the green. The golfer uses pitching to make the ball stop quickly on the green after it lands. For example, if the player’s ball is 50 yards away from the green, they could use a pitch shot to get it onto the green and close to the hole.

Determining When to Chipping vs. Pitching

Knowing the proper technique for executing both chip and pitch shots is undoubtedly crucial; however, it is of even greater importance to have a profound understanding of when to utilize each of these shots. When contemplating the decision between golf chipping and pitching, two fundamental considerations come into play:

  • Lie – When presented with a clean look at the back of the ball. Such as being on the fairway or having a favorable lie in the rough. It is advisable to opt for a chip shot. This shot enables you to have more control over the balls trajectory by striking it cleanly. And getting it to roll toward the hole, akin to a putt. However, if the lie is not optimal, selecting a pitch shot to loft the ball up and out. Allowing it to land softly, is a better choice.
  • Shot Requirement – The crucial aspect to consider is the shot requirement. If you are in proximity to the green without needing to carry the ball over any obstacles. A chip shot is the preferred option. Conversely, if you need to carry the ball or have it stop promptly near a tricky pin placement. A pitch shot would be more suitable.
  • Skill Level – In general, a pitch shot is harder to execute than a chip shot because there is more room for error. We recommend first mastering the chip shot before advancing to the pitch shot. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Key Differences between Chipping and Pitching:

Distance and Trajectory:

Differentiate between chipping and pitching is the distance and trajectory of the shot. Chipping is used for shorter distances and produces a low path with a spin. That allows the ball to roll out on the green. Pitching is used for longer distances and produces a higher course with less spin. Allowing the ball to stop more quickly on the green.

Club Selection:

The club selection for chipping and pitching also differs. Golfers often chip using a pitching, sand, or lob wedge. They pitch with a pitching, gap, or sand iron. These clubs have different lofts for different shots. The pitching wedge has the lowest loft, and the lob wedge has the highest. The sand wedge is useful for getting out of bunkers. The gap wedge fills a distance gap between pitching and sand wedges.

Stance and Swing:

The stance and swing for chipping and pitching also differ. When chipping, the feet are close together, and the swing is short and controlled. When pitching, the feet are shoulder-width apart, and the swing is longer and smoother.

Other Factors to Consider:

The lie of the ball, distance to the green, and any challenges should be taken into account. These aspects can greatly affect the outcome of the shot.

Final Thoughts:

To summarize, golf players must utilize distinct techniques, club choices, and swings for the vital chipping and pitching shots. To improve their performance and avoid mistakes, all players must be able to distinguish between these two shots. By following the tips and strategies offered in this article, these players can master both shots and lower their scores. Always remember, regular practice and experimentation are fundamental to achieving success as a golf player.

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