How to Use Your Golf Pitching Wedge

One of the most pivotal ways you can go about lowering scores in golf is mastering your short game.

Achieving an extra 10 or 20 yards on your drive is neither here nor there when the shots you play in and around the green are what can really make or break a round.

Your golf pitching wedge is your go-to when it comes to your approach play.

It can be instrumental in determining how efficiently you arrive at the green and, ultimately, how well you’re set up to putt.

The pitching wedge is one of the most versatile clubs in your bag as it can be used to navigate all sorts of short game scenarios, including those difficult recovery shots where you need to rescue par from a tricky lie. 

The short game can take a bit of practice and personal finesse to master, but learning how to use your golf pitching wedge will certainly be key to you saving precious shots on your scorecard.

Ready to become an artist on the golf course and play those show-stopper shots worthy of applause from your competition? 

In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about how to use your golf pitching wedge!

Let’s get started.

A golfer uses a golf pitching wedge to make a shot.

What Is The Golf Pitching Wedge?

The golf pitching wedge belongs to a family of clubs called wedges which are the most lofted type of club in your 14-club bag.

A typical set of wedges will include a sand wedge (SW), a gap wedge (GW), and the pitching wedge (PW).

Your pitching wedge golf club will generally have a built-in loft between 45-48 degrees.

How does the pitching wedge differ from the other wedges?

The PW is the least lofted of the wedge set and has a slightly different shape to the SW, which has greater loft and a thicker club head to cut through heavier terrain like sand bunkers.

The GW ‘bridges the gap’ in loft between the PW and the SW.

Golfers might carry specialist wedges with specific degrees of loft, but the pitching wedge tends to be the most commonly used wedge found in nearly every golf set.

a golfer tees up a shot with their golf pitching wedge.

When To Use Your Golf Pitching Wedge

Your golf pitching wedge is the best choice of club for approach shots ranging anywhere up to around 130 yards from the green.

Inside this range, getting maximum distance and power out of a club becomes less of a priority as you close in on the flag.

Instead, your primary concern should now be with where and how you want the ball to land on the green. 

The large amount of loft on your pitching wedge golf club makes it a good candidate for short game shots where you need to place the ball softly onto the green with a steep flight trajectory.

A good aim to have with your golf pitching wedge is to get you close enough to the flag so that you only need two putts (or less) on average. Achieve this and your scores will reduce drastically.

a golf pitching wedge surrounded by golf balls.

Your golf pitching wedge is used for playing pitch shots, whilst can also be used for chipping and playing out of the rough.

Pitching is an essential method in golf used in your approach to the green where the ball is played steeply in the air with a high trajectory and some backspin. 

This is so the ball can get up and down across a relatively short distance, stopping in its tracks as quickly as possible. 

Turning to your golf pitching wedge is a good call when there lies a hazard between you and the flag which you need to clear.

Because the greens are hard, fast surfaces, you have to be wary of how your ball is going to roll once it lands on them – with the main goal that it stays!

For the closest shots, say within 15 yards of the green, you get into chipping territory.

Chipping and pitching are often seen as interchangeable but there are some key differences that we’ll cover later in this article.

a golfer makes a shot with a pitching wedge.

How To Use Your Golf Pitching Wedge

When using your golf pitching wedge in shorter approach scenarios, you have one main consideration to take into account: distance control.

For the majority of the long game in golf, distance is controlled by choice of club before anything else, since golfers can rely on a full power swing each time to fulfil the maximum yardage capable on any given club.

The short game however will find you in lots of varied proximities closer to the green, and you’re down to your most lofted clubs, i.e your wedges, to execute all of the final little distances. 

Therefore, to manage distance control in the short game with your golf pitching wedge, you will need to vary the way you use the club.

More judgment is involved with using a pitching wedge golf club than with irons e.g, since making the same full-capacity swing in shorter scenarios is no longer necessary.

Let’s break down how to use your golf pitching wedge:

a golf ball balanced on a golf pitching wedge.

1. Pitching Wedge Setup

Two main controlling factors can influence distance and power in your golf pitching wedge setup:

First off, you should adopt a narrower stance when pitching vs the stance you take in your setup with an iron or driver

Placing your feet a hip-width apart is ideal for most pitching and chipping scenarios.

As a rule of thumb: the narrower your stance is, the less power you’ll generate and, significantly, the more accuracy and control over your club you will gain.

This is why when putting, your stance is ideally at its narrowest comfortable width.

For those closer types of shots where you need to enhance your precision further, you can hold the golf club a fraction lower down the grip than you normally would.

This in effect shortens the length of your club making for a more accurate, measured swing.

The last thing to remember in your golf pitching wedge setup is that the ball should be centered in your stance.

a golfer makes a shot with their golf pitching wedge.

2. Keep Weight Forward

You should keep your body weight fractionally towards the lead side when using your pitching wedge golf club.

About 60% of your weight in favor of the lead foot is optimal.

Unlike the weight transfer back and forth between both feet during your typical swing with other clubs, when pitching, you want to commit that extra body weight forward throughout the entire swing.

This helps you to get over the ball as much as possible to achieve that crucial ball-then-turf contact needed when pitching. 

3. Adjust Swing Length 

To think a full swing with your golf pitching wedge will yield a shot distance in the range of 110-130 yards for most players, another way to manage shorter distances is to make adjustments in your swing’s size.

Here lies the skilled part: manipulating the length of your shot by adjusting the capacity of your swing.

Generally, a good benchmark for the peak extension of your pitching wedge backswing is about three-quarters capacity of a full swing.

In other words, 75% of your normal swing might look like where your lead arm ends up roughly horizontal to the ground in the takeaway

Since the key is control and accuracy when using your golf pitching wedge, there is rarely the need to swing back any further for power at the risk of making unclean contact with the ball.

You can then judge different backswing lengths relative to the yardage of your full-capacity swing. 

Draw back your club in clock-like steps according to the varying distances you need to make. 

Select a couple of lengths to familiarise yourself with. A half-length swing, for instance, might look like where the club itself is horizontal to the ground at the top of the backswing.

a golf pitching wedge next to a golf ball.

4. Swinging Technique 

It is useful to picture your swinging motion with your pitching wedge golf club like a pendulum – mirroring an equal length in the back swing with the length of your follow-through.

This ensures you have a measured, consistent swing from start to finish needed for optimal control.

As power is not the objective, it can be easy to assume all of the work happens up in the arms for short game swings. 

This isn’t the case as the most consistent strikes are still made when the whole body is involved in unison with the club during the swing. 

Keep your arms connected with the movement of your torso through your pitching wedge swing.

One of the main errors amateur golfers will make in their pitching and chipping swings is trying to ‘help’ the ball into the air themselves with a scooping action with the wrists.

For consistency in your golf pitching wedge shots, you should aim to get that hitting down-on-the-ball sensation, creating a nice divot in the ground after the ball.

It might seem contradictory to hit down on the ball when you’re seeking a high trajectory, but the large loft on your pitching wedge’s club face will do the heavy lifting work for you.

There is no need to manually try and lift backward in your shot which comes at the risk of hitting the turf first (fatting).

When in the rough, you can use the loft on your golf pitching wedge to your advantage to play up and out of a tricky lie. This requires a different technique with a slightly open club face and a harder, steeper swing. 

Watch: Sir Nick Faldo’s tutorial on playing from the rough.

a golfer makes a shot at sunset with their golf pitching wedge

Chipping vs Pitching

Chipping and pitching are both standard short game shots you can play using your golf pitching wedge. Although similar in technique, they work the opposite in how the ball behaves.

The main ways to distinguish between chipping and pitching are the shot’s proximity to the green and the amount of carry on the ball. 

Chip shots spend longer rolling on the green than they spend in the air. Whereas pitch shots spend more time in the air than they do on the green.

The chip shot is played on the outskirts of the green and has little carry, requiring a slightly shorter length of swing than pitching – half-capacity and under works well. 

The pitch shot is contrarily performed further back from the green and has more carry, with more backspin to help it stop where it lands.

Learning how to pitch or chip the ball with your golf pitching wedge will allow you to get smarter with your game strategy and will reduce the number of putts you have to make.

Why not take your golf pitching wedge out on a pitch and putt course and practice applying the above in your short game!

Now learn how to use your new pitching wedge skills on the pitch and putt!

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