Chipping vs Pitching: What’s the Difference? Keys to Success

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Understanding the short game in golf is key to taking strokes off your hole. Even more advanced golfers can’t explain the difference between chipping vs pitching. In this guide, I’ll break down the differences in detail, explaining:

  • The difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot in golf.
  • What club you should use for each kind of shot.
  • How to improve your pitching and chipping at home or out on the course.
  • Essential golf tips on how to chip and pitch the ball better

Mastering these short game shots is key to setting yourself up for a one-putt. If you have any other questions about chipping vs pitching, comment down below and let us know.

What is a Pitch Shot in Golf?

A pitch shot in golf is a shot that spends more time in the air than on the ground. It will typically have more carry, more spin on the ball, and a higher trajectory on launch.

Pitches are commonly used anywhere on the golf course, from the fairway to the rough. The roll on the ball will not be very much as the ball will land softer on the green due to the higher trajectory.

What clubs are used for a pitch shot?

When pitching in golf, you usually use any of the wedges in your golf bag. This is because your wedges carry the most loft, which will allow you to quickly get the ball up into the air and towards your target. Wedges will also provide more spin on the ball, allowing it to land softer onto the green.

The most common golf club used for pitches is the pitching wedge, hence the name. The pitching wedge is a very versatile golf club because you can use it almost anywhere on the course. The sand wedge, approach wedge, and lob wedge offer even more loft and air-time.

When do you need to use the pitch shot?

You can use a pitch shot in golf when you are further away from the flag, as a pitch will generally carry further in the air. Pitches can usually be played up to 50 yards out.

In most cases, you will use a wedge as it carries a higher loft than your irons would. A wedge will also help generate spin on the ball due to the higher loft and different grooves on the club face. This spin and a higher trajectory will help ensure the ball lands soft on the green near your target.

pitching golf shot
Pitching – courtesy of Golf Digest

What is a Chip Shot in Golf?

A chip shot in golf is a shot that spends more time on the ground than it does in the air. It has minimal carry and less spin and will spend more time rolling and bouncing on the green towards your target.

This is the opposite of the pitch shot we went over above.

The key part of a chip is a lower body rotation, which focuses on pushing the bull towards the hole rather than up in the air. To do this nicely, create more shaft lean by placing your weight on your front golf foot. This will encourage a downward strike and prevent the chipping yips (more on that later)!

What clubs are used for a chip shot?

The chip differs from a pitch shot in that more clubs can be used when chipping. Most golfers will still be comfortable using a pitching wedge to provide consistent results, but you can use different clubs for different shots.

If you are on the fringe of the green, you may see a better result using an 8-iron and completing what’s called a bump and run. This type of shot still has enough loft to lift the ball over the fringe of the green and then lets the ball roll out towards the target. You typically use a putting motion with your iron to complete a bump and run.

When do you need to use the chip shot?

Chip shots are typically used when you are close to the green but not entirely on, and there isn’t a way to putt the ball. Chipping will allow you to get a bit of loft on the ball to carry it over top of what you are hitting off and onto the green to roll towards your target.

Chips are different from pitches in that you are typically very close to the hole when chipping, usually no more than 50 feet away.

chipping golf shot
Chipping – courtesy of Golf Digest

The Difference Between Chipping and Pitching

We went over a few of the differences above, but we will go a bit more in-depth to show the fundamental differences between a pitch shot and a chip shot.

Club Grip Position

When you are hitting a chip shot on the golf course, your grip position will be quite a bit different than usual. You will want to lower your hands on the grip more towards the club face when chipping. This will allow you better control over the golf club during your swing. Choking up will shorten the club and provide a steady feel throughout the chip.

When hitting a pitch, you will keep the exact grip and club position as you normally would when hitting any other club. Pitches are more like a traditional shot in that they go higher and further, meaning you don’t have to change your approach too much. You may consider choking up a little to provide that extra control over the club, but it mostly depends on personal preference and what feels best for you.

Ball Position

Chipping yips refer to a golfer who is trying too hard to perfect a shot that it negatively affects the shot. One way to counter chipping yips is to ensure that the ball is in the correct position.

You want to ensure the golf ball is lined up on your back foot when chipping. For a right-handed golfer, this would be your right foot, and as a left-handed golfer, your left foot. Lining up the ball on your back foot ensures solid contact on the ball with your club instead of you trying to scoop the ball onto the green.

When pitching, the ball position remains relatively similar to a regular shot. You may want to play the ball a little bit back in the stance, which will help the club’s loft get the ball up into the air. This should also help decrease the chance of thinning the ball or trying too hard to scoop it into the air with the club.

chipping vs pitching pitch shot example
A pitch shot spends more time in the air than on the ground.

Aiming

Your aim should be the same as any standard shot for both a pitch and a chip. Before hitting, try to visualize exactly where you want the ball to land, as this will help when executing your swing.

A pitch in the air or a chip on the ground, your aim should be towards your target or else you will have issues.

When chipping, you should be aiming short of your target as you are counting on the roll of the golf ball to go towards the target. Pitches can be aimed closer to the target as the ball will travel in the air more and land softer on the green.

Stance

Your stance will be slightly different for chips than for a standard shot. I recommend putting your feet together and opening the stance towards the target. I found that this provides an easier swing path and helps create better contact on the ball. It should help eliminate those yips where you try and do too much through the swing.

You also want to ensure that your wrists stay straight through contact on chip. The swing motion will almost be like a putting motion. The reason for this is it provides better control over your golf ball.

The loft on the club will help lift it off the ground slightly. If you add too much wrist hinge, you will end up chunking the ball and not get optimal contact.

On pitches, your stance remains relatively unchanged. You may want your feet a little closer than shoulder-width apart, which will help provide control and stability throughout your swing. Your wrists may hinge a little more than a chip shot, but this will let the club’s loft get underneath the ball to get it up into the air and add spin.

Swing Differences

The main swing difference on a chip is that the swing is more like a putting motion than a full swing on the club. The reason you use a putting motion when chipping is to provide better control over the golf ball. The club’s loft and the club head’s weight will do all of the work in getting the ball towards your target.

For pitch shots, the only difference in your swing is that you are not taking a full swing. Everything else is the same, but you are usually no more than 50 yards away for pitches. Taking a half swing will also help give that flight distance control on the ball, no matter what loft club you use.

Some golfers like to put the golf ball forward in your stance and open up the club face in order to help get the ball airborne and perform a ‘flop shot’. This is not mandatory as long as you get a clean strike out of your golf swing.

bump and run chipping vs pitching
A chip shot spends more time on the ground than in the air.

Golf Trainer for Pitching and Chipping

One great tool that I highly recommend to help you with your pitching and chipping is the SwingAlign Golf Training Aid. The SwingAlign includes everything you need to practice your chipping and pitching and ensure that you have correct technique hitting both kinds of shots.

It comes with alignment rods that you can place at your feet to ensure that you are lined up correctly for each type of shot and hitting it exactly where you are aimed. The cuffs in the bundle help you control your arms and elbows to ensure your swing is stable. The cuffs are great for practicing chips as they ensure your elbows stay close to your body and on the plane.

The SwingAlign is great for practicing your putting motion on chips and ensuring good quality of contact every time. The standard size for these cuffs fits the majority of golfers as well.

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What is the “Pitch and Roll” shot?

The pitch and roll golf shot is the exact same thing as the bump and run chip I mentioned above. This shot involves keeping the golf ball very low by bumping it onto the green. The roll or run refers to the ball rolling on the green towards the hole. This type of shot takes a lot of practice, but it is great to use when hit correctly.

Typically, you would use a 7 or 8 iron to complete a pitch and roll show. By utilizing a putting motion on the ball, the loft and weight of the club will bump the ball onto the green and towards the hole. This shot is great because you don’t have to worry about flying the ball in the air and trying to land.

If you are comfortable knowing how fast the greens are, the bump and run is perfect to roll the ball up nicely and close to the hole. Club selection is not all that important for this shot. A proper pendulum motion and club swing is key.

What is the “Rule of 12” when chipping?

The Rule of 12 is a fundamental approach to chipping and pitching in golf. What it does is help you understand the relationship between the loft of a club and how much the ball will roll out towards the hole. This will help you decide the right club choice to play.

The Rule of 12 uses 12 as the number of yards you want to ball to travel on a pitch or chip shot. Whenever you use a lower lofted club, the ball stays in the air for a very short carry distance and will roll most of the way on the green. When using a higher lofted club, the ball will stay in the air longer and won’t roll as much.

It depends on how far you need to carry your chip/pitch that determines which club is best to use. If you have the entire green to work with and don’t have to carry the ball, it is best to try a bump and run shot with a 7-iron. The Rule of 12 states that the ball should carry 3 yards with this club and roll the next 9 yards towards the hole.

If you need to carry the ball further in the air, you may opt for a pitching wedge, with it’s higher loft. With this club, you will carry the ball 6 yards, and it would roll 6. When you need to carry the ball most of the way towards the hole, you would probably use a lob wedge to get it up into the air. Depending on the firmness of the green and how fast it is rolling, the ball will probably carry 9 yards and only roll 3.

The Rule of 12 is relatively accurate. However, it will depend on many different factors such as course conditions, green firmness, green speed, and more. The best thing you can do for chipping and pitching is to head out to a practice green and try out many different swings to find out what you are most comfortable hitting.

The Rule of 12 is also dependent on you hitting quality chip shots all of the time, which can be hard for an amateur golfer!

The Case For Using a Chipper

A chipper is a modified golf club that is meant for chipping the ball around the green. The new Ping ChipR is the most popular club in this space.

The chipper is designed to make it easy for you to get the ball off of the ground and chip it towards the hole. Many golfers who use a chipper say good things about it. However, it’s not very common with professional golfers because it takes away one of the wedges in your standard 14-club golf bag.

Check out the Ping ChipR below if you are interested in checking out that club.

Video Tips

Looking for more tips on how to properly hit your short shots better? Check out the videos below for a good overview of each shot and how to improve on hitting them.

CHIP V's PITCH - Whats the difference and when to use them

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it easier to hit a pitch shot or a chip shot?

A pitch shot from a longer distance away (40 yards or more) is easier to hit than a close pitch shot or a chip shot. This is because your swing will be very similar to a normal golf swing, which you are most familiar with hitting. As you get close to the green, you have to adjust your swing, upper body rotation, wrist movement, and weight distribution. This can lead to more error and more mistakes.

What are the chipping yips?

The chipping yips is a golf error that causes you to hit a bad shot because you are trying too hard. When you are close to the green and have to hit a chip shot, you consciously want to hit a good shot and get the golf ball close to the hole. When you get inside your head like this, you can get the chipping yips and end stubbing the ball. Proper technique and practice can prevent the yips from occurring.

What degree wedge is best for chipping?

A 9-iron or a pitching wedge are the easiest clubs to learn how to chip with. They have more loft than a 7-iron, which helps the ball initially get off of the ground. However, they are easier to hit than higher lofted wedges, which are tough to hit consistently with a short swing.

What is a flop shot?

A flop is a type of pitch shot where you aim to increase the ball height further than its normal loft. To do this, you move the ball forward in your stance and open up your club face. When hit correctly, the ball at impact will go high in the air with lots of spin and land on the green with minimal spin or even some backspin.

Conclusion

Chipping vs pitching shots in golf are easy to try but hard to master. When done correctly, they can each take multiple shots off of your end score.

Hopefully the above information gives you a good idea about:

  • The differences in chipping vs pitching the golf ball
  • Differences in club grip, stance, and swing for each shot
  • An overview of the “Pitch and Roll”
  • The “Rule of 12”

If you have any other questions about your short game, comment down below and let us know!

Ryan William
Ryan William

Ryan has been an avid golfer for over 25 years. Now an entrepreneur, Ryan spends his time keeping up with the latest golf trends and trying out the latest golf clubs, accessories, and training aids. Ryan has published over 1000 articles on various websites on the internet.

Last update on 2022-11-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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