Chipping Vs Pitching: When To Use Them And The Key Differences

You always hear the words ‘chipping’ and ‘pitching’ being used interchangeably. If you’re guilty of this, then keep reading to save yourself some embarrassment. 

There is a huge difference between chipping and pitching. You’ve probably already hit both shots many times and didn’t even realize the distinction. 

Tightening up your short game is a surefire way to lower your scores and start beating your Saturday foursome regularly. To do so, you need to know your terminology and when to hit each shot.

Here’s what you need to know about chipping vs pitching.

chipping vs pitching. A golfer chips onto the green.

Key Differences Between Chipping vs Pitching—At A Glance

The biggest difference between chipping and pitching is the amount of time the ball spends in the air.

Chipping means the ball is in the air for a minimal amount of time and is rolling for most of the shot. Pitching is when the ball is in the air most of the time and rolls very little. 

  • Pitching is used when you need to go over an obstacle or are on the short side of the green. Typically played with a high-lofted club
  • Chipping is used when you have a lot of green to work with and can get the ball down and rolling quickly. Can be played with many different clubs.  

How To Chip Effectively

Chipping might not be the most glamorous shot in golf, but it sure pays off in the long run. Save more pars and maybe even drain a birdie every now and then with proper chipping education.

Have The Right Equipment

Hitting the best chips requires correct club selection.

Getting the ball down on the green and rolling on a good line to the hole is made easier with a less-lofted club.

This can be anything from your sand wedge all the way up to your hybrid or even 3-wood in extreme cases. 

The more green you have, the less loft you need. You want to treat chipping the same as a putt, be sure to read the green and select an appropriate line.

Then choose your club based on the closes spot to land the ball on the green. 

  • If you have a few feet between you and the collar of the green, then you will want a club with a bit more loft, like your pitching wedge or 9-iron.
  • If you are right against the fringe, then less loft is required, and if you still have a long way to go, you can consider a 7-iron or even a hybrid. 
A chip shot with a golf club.

When To Chip

Since the essence of chipping is getting the ball down on the green and rolling as soon as possible, you need to be close to the green in the first place. 

Anytime you’re within 10 yards of the edge of the green, chipping is an option. 

However, your decision will also be based on where the hole is cut. You may be 4 yards from the collar, but if the hole is only 1 yard on the green, then you are short-sided and will need a higher loft to get close. 

Only chip if more than half your total shot will be on the green. 

Proper Technique Is Needed

To ensure you get the consistency you need, focus on these key points whenever you’re faced with a chip. 

  • Stance slightly open to the target to minimize hip rotation.
  • Weight should be 90% on the front foot.
  • Keep hands ahead of the ball with the shaft slightly pressed forward.
  • Never break wrists and maintain a triangle shape with arms and chest.
  • Ball position in the middle of or a little back in your stance.
  • Hit down on the ball.
  • Always follow through more than the length of your backswing.

How Your Lie Affects Chips

Anyone can hit a good chip from a perfect lie that you would find on the fairway or practice range, but be sure to familiarize yourself with many different lies when you’re practicing. 

Chipping from thick rough is much tougher because you are already working with low spin and low ball flight.

Deep rough will amplify these characteristics and may cause your 9-iron chip to either flub two feet in front of you or rocket past the hole to the other side of the green. 

Be sure you can always get the leading edge of your club to the bottom of the ball relatively unobstructed. This will prevent knuckleballs that have absolutely no spin on them.

Also, pay attention to the exit path of the ball out of the rough. You may need to get it up in the air quickly to avoid longer and thicker blades of grass. 

A golfer makes a chip shot.

How To Pitch Effectively

Pitching can get you out of trouble and make you look really good at the same time. However, without the right tools and technique, pitching can be pretty embarrassing sometimes too.

Choosing The Right Club

Having the right tool in your hand for pitching is much more critical to success than with chipping. You want height, and you want spin, and to get those, you need loft. 

Select a wedge with a minimum of 54°; the more, the better. I prefer to use my 60° in most cases as it provides height and it’s easier to hit out of the rough. 

Depending on how steep your angle of attack is, you want to optimize the bounce on your wedge as well. 

Bounce is the angle at which the leading edge sits above the ground. This is easy to see if you gently rest your wedge on a flat surface with the shaft perpendicular to the ground. 

More bounce will help golfers with a steep swing to improve their interaction with the turf and prevent deep divots and full-blown chunks.

Choose less bounce if your swing is flat, and you typically only take thin ‘bacon-strip” style divots. 

A golfer makes a number of chips onto a practice green

To Pitch, Or Not To Pitch

Pitching is very versatile and may come down to personal preference in many cases. Unlike chipping, you can pitch from almost anywhere. 

You can pitch a chip shot, but you can’t chip a pitch shot. 

However, pitching is tougher and has a wider margin for error. You want to chip if you can, but if that’s not an option, then you must pitch. 

Pitching is ideal when you have very little green to work with or need to go over something like a pond or bunker. 

Pitching Technique

A pitching motion is much closer to your full-swing action. It’s not as rigid as the proper chipping technique.

It’s important to always be accelerating through the impact zone. Deceleration is the number one mistake amateurs make, and the results are horrific.

When setting up, keep these aspects in mind;

  • Ball position in the middle of your stance or the slightest bit ahead of center.
  • Rotate shoulders and hips in unison no matter how short the pitch.
  • Keep head still.
  • Do not break or ‘flip’ wrists; allow them to turnover like in your full swing.

Know When To Stop Your Pitching And Moaning

To perform crisp and accurate pitching, it helps to have a clean lie.

From the fairway and in dry conditions, you can count on your ball doing exactly what you want it to. As soon as you change those conditions, pitching becomes much more difficult.

Pitching from the rough will reduce spin and increase the rollout after the first two bounces. Factor this in during your preshot routine.

You may find yourself in a spot where you need to pitch, but the lie simply won’t allow it. This is when you must take your medicine and pitch out to a safer place on the hole.

A golfer makes a chip shot.


Which Spins More, A Chip Or A Pitch?

A pitch spins more than a chip because it’s hit with a higher clubhead speed.

A pitching motion adds power and RPMs. It’s very noticeable when the ball is struck cleanly. Chips aren’t meant to spin a lot because you want them to get down and start rolling on the green.

Chipping is more predictable and controllable than trying to perform a high pitch.

Is A Bump And Run A Chip Or A Pitch?

A bump and run is considered a chip because it spends more time on the ground than in the air. Bump and run refers to chips that are within a yard of the edge of the green.

The idea behind a bump and run is to take a lower lofted club like a 7-iron and make a short but firm motion at the ball. This will ‘bump’ it on the green so it can ‘run’ the rest of the way to the hole.

Which Shot Should Beginners Learn First, A Chip Or A Pitch?

Beginners should learn how to chip first. It’s easier and is a skill that you will always be working on. The best chippers in the world feel like they can sink a lot of shots which is a huge advantage.

Most of the time, if you’re chipping or pitching, it’s because you missed the green in regulation. You have a better chance of draining chips than you do pitches.

Does a Chip Go Higher Than A Pitch?

No, a chip does not go higher than a pitch. Chips are meant to stay low to the ground and then start rolling as soon as possible.

Pitches go higher than chips in order to stop the ball fast. This is done with the right technique and a high-lofted wedge.

Can You Chip And Pitch With The Same Club?

Yes, you can chip and pitch with the same club, but it’s not always advisable. You can chip with a pitching club such as a sand wedge or lob wedge, but it would be tough to pitch with a chipping club like a 9 to 7 iron.

More Help With Your Short Game, Perhaps?

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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