The Pitch Shot In Golf: 5 Tips To Improve Your Pitching Game

Stop fearing this shot! 

Many golfers hesitate to utilize the pitch shot for fear of horrifically chunking or skulling the ball in front of their playing partners. The answer is not to avoid this shot but to practice sound fundamentals so you gain confidence. 

It’s hard to make birdies and save par if you’re always missing the green or not hitting it close when you have the chance. Skilled pitching takes practice but is worth its weight in gold once you get comfortable

Below is all the information you need to add a deadly pitch shot to your arsenal. No flag will be safe once you apply what you will learn right here. 

  • What Is A Pitch Shot
  • How To Hit A Pitch Shot
  • 5 Insider Tips To Improve Your Pitching
  • 3 Best Clubs To Use For A Pitch Shot
  • 3 Most Common Pitching Mistakes
  • The Only Pitching Drill You Need

Let’s pitch in!

pitch shot: 5 tips to improve your pitching game

What Is A Pitch Shot In Golf?

A pitch shot in golf is a short shot that spends more time in the air than it does rolling on the ground. 

It is best utilized when approaching a green because the added height will help the ball stop quickly on all types of greens, including those that are rolling fast. However, you can use a pitch shot to escape trouble and get yourself back in play.

How To Hit A Pitch Shot 

A pitch shot is not a full swing. You do not make a full shoulder and hip turn because if you did, that would just be a full swing shot with a wedge in your hand. 

The most important thing to remember about hitting pitch shots is always to have a longer follow-through than backswing.

This encourages clean contact each time, which applies spin and promotes a high launch angle. 

To achieve this, play that ball slightly back in your stance. Since you’re not using your hips to their fullest potential, you can open them slightly to the target to balance a further back ball position

These key points should be your foundation on every pitch shot you attempt. 

Key Takeaways: The Pitch Shot In Golf

  • Longer follow-through than backswing
  • Hips and feet slightly open to target
  • Ball positioned slightly back in stance 
golfer swinging club, close up of ball

5 Tips To Improve Your Pitch Shot In Golf

With sound fundamentals listed above, you can apply the following tips to get your pitch shots dialed in. Never mind just hitting the green; you want to stick it close and give yourself the best chance possible at making an up-and-down. 

1. Always Get A Yardage

You may think this is redundant when you’re only 32 yards or so from the green, but attaching a number to your swing is the quickest way to improve your distance control. Accuracy is easier to come by with pitch shots, and all the pros will tell you they dedicate a lot more time to controlling distance

2. Try to Use The Same Club

Sometimes, this will be unavoidable, but I recommend you become as familiar as possible with one wedge as your go-to ‘pitching’ club. That doesn’t mean it has to be the pitching wedge itself. My favorite club to pitch with is my 56° as it allows me to comfortably execute sound fundamentals while easily getting the ball airborne with a high spin rate.

golfer swinging club, concentrating on the pitch shot

3. Use The Right Ball

Getting fit for a golf ball should be just as common as getting fit for a driver. You use your ball for every shot, but you only use your driver a maximum of 14 strokes out of your total score. Get the right ball for your swing speed and trajectory tendency. The golf ball is not just about distance; it’s about controlling spin, which helps stop your ball fast and keep it on your intended target line even with full swings. 

4. Choose Your Target Wisely

Not all flagsticks are accessible. It takes an experienced pitcher to identify the best landing zone with the largest margin of error. Playing the odds will help you avoid the big numbers. For the opportunities where you do aim at the flagstick, you should still choose a landing area short of the flag to allow for your usual bounces and/or rollout. 

golfer executing a pitch shot

5. Practice In The Short Game Area

It may be tempting to reel off a whole bucket to the 50-yard sign on the driving range and think it helps. While that’s better than nothing, your time is better spent using your game balls and hitting to the practice green from 50 yards away (if possible). This allows you to see how the ball reacts when it lands. 

When To Use The Pitch Shot

Pitch shots are best used when you have more ground to cover than green available between you and the pin. When pitching, you always want your first bounce to be on the green so you can accurately estimate how it will release. If you find yourself with more green than ground to cover, consider using a chip shot or bump-and-run

golfers on the green discussing pitch shot techniques

How Far Can You Hit a Pitch Shot?

Generally, pitch shots should be utilized from 20-75 yards. You may see pros on TV talking about a 90-yard pitch shot, but that’s because their distances are much different than you and I. For many golfers, a 75-yard shot may require a traditional full swing. Use the driving range and practice area to determine your pitch shot yardages. 

3 Best Clubs To Use For a Pitch Shot

1. Sand Wedge—Most golfers will find the sand wedge versatile from various distances. It also has bounce on the back edge of the sole to help your club glide through less-than-ideal lies. 

Mistake #2:ob Wedge—For those who naturally have a higher club head speed, a lob wedge will offer the largest margin of error. You won’t have to hold back and can focus on your fundamentals without fear of overshooting your target. The added loft will also help you generate spin and stop your ball on a dime. 

3. Gap Wedge—Your gap wedge can be used to pitch when you think you’ve reached your maximum distance with your pitching sand wedge swing. For example, if your max distance while pitching with your sand wedge is 60 yards and you’re faced with a 70-yard shot, you may be more comfortable using your pitching technique with a gap wedge instead of taking a full swing with your sand wedge. 

golfer on the approach taking a pitch shot onto the green

Pitch Shot vs Chip Shot vs Flop Shot

These phrases are often used interchangeably, but that needs to be corrected. These three distinct shots should be used at the appropriate time. 

Pitch Shot

A pitch shot spends more time in the air than rolling on the ground and can be used from further away than a flop shot, but not as far as a full swing shot

Chip Shot

A chip shot spends more time rolling than it does in the air. This should only be used when you are within 10 yards of the green and have plenty of open green between you and the cup. 

Flop Shot

A flop shot should only be used in extreme situations. This shot is helpful if you find yourself short-sided and have very little green to work with.  When executed correctly, it will take off almost straight up in the air and land straight down as well. It’s a very cool shot to pull off, but any slight miscalculation and you could find your ball closer to the parking lot than the hole.  

golfer taking a pitch shot near a water hazard

3 Most Common Pitch Shot Mistakes

  • Mistake #1: Scooping or trying to hit up on the ball to help it in the air is the most common mistake amateurs make. Always try to strike the ball with a descending blow.
  • Mistake #2: Decelerating through impact is a recipe for disaster and a sure sign that you have not practiced enough. Be confident in every pitch shot you attempt and focus on a long follow-through to avoid this. 
  • Mistake #3: Ball position should be further back in your stance, which may seem uncomfortable at first. Many golfers get into trouble trying to hit a pitch shot with a ball position that is way too far forward. 
golfer at the tee

Best Pitch Shot Drill

The Ladder Drill is the most effective way to improve your pitching quickly. This can be done on the driving range to start, but once you’ve mastered that, you’ll have to apply it to the practice green for maximum reward. 

If your pitching range is between 20 and 60 yards, lay down a club at 10-yard intervals starting at 20 yards. 

  • Hit your first pitch so it lands and stays within the 20-30-yard range 
  • Hit your second pitch between 30-40 yards
  • Hit your third pitch between 40-50 yards
  • Hit your final pitch between 50-60 yards.  

If you miss, start over from the beginning

Next time you play, start with the furthest distance and work your way closer. Once those yardages become too easy, lay down clubs in 5-yard increments, and whenever you can, hit to a real green so you can practice how to control the ball after it lands. 

golfers on the course having fun, pitch shot practice time

The Pitch Shot In Golf: Key Takeaways

The pitch shot is arguably the most underrated shot in golf. Many people can’t even define it, let alone use it to their advantage. Having the ability to carry your ball in the air and stop it quickly is a considerable advantage on courses with fast greens and lots of hazards. 

Learn this skill, and you’ll save more pars than you ever thought possible

Next Up: How To Improve Your Chip Shot: 10 Tips To Test Out

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!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.