Oct 12, 2023
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Is the Difference Between Pitching and Chipping in Golf?

Whether you're new to the game or a seasoned player of multiple courses, knowing the terminology can prove challenging. There are numerous techniques you can use in golf to make a successful putt, and arguably, two of the most crucial shots in a player's arsenal are chip shots and pitch shots. If you're wondering what that means, you're in the right place.

In this short guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know about these key shots. By the end, you'll be an expert. Let's dive in. 

What Is a Chip Shot?

A chip shot can simply be defined as trying to get the ball as close to your target destination as possible with minimal obstructions. The aim is to use your golf club as effectively as possible to get the ball rolling. This involves quite a bit of guesswork, but there are techniques you can practice to help. More on this further down. 

What Is a Pitch Shot?

A pitch shot is a type of swing intended to send the ball very high to cover a large distance or overcome an obstruction. There are different kinds of pitch shots, with some favoring height over distance. Knowing when to employ which will influence the success of your overall game. 

Chipping vs. Pitching: Spotting the Differences

The two shots are used for very different purposes, but identifying them can be a little tricky if you aren't already familiar with them. To help you with that, we'll take you through the three most significant differences.

1. Ball Flight

With a pitch shot, your ball should fly much higher and potentially cover much more distance than a chip shot. Chip shots should stay low to the course and often have more destination specificity than pitch shots. They're more often used when you're closer to the hole, whereas pitch shots are used for travel. 

2. Golfclub Used

Both chip shots and pitch shots can be achieved with a variety of golf clubs, but they fall into distinct categories. With chip shots, you'll want to use a club with a lower loft to give you more accuracy over where the ball travels. On the other hand, a pitch shot benefits from a club with a significantly higher loft

3. Swinging Stance

Chip shots require no rotation and instead rely upon a firm, grounded stance. Pitch shots, on the other hand, require both rotation and wrist hinge. Be careful you aren't over-rotating or putting too much strain on your wrists, as this could negatively impact your shot and your health

Mastering the Chip Shot: Step-by-Step Technique

  1. Set Up is Everything: How you start your swing will profoundly affect your success. You'll need to stand closer to the ball than you ordinarily would with a full swing. Keep your stance open and move your feet closer together, keeping most of your weight on your lead foot.
  2. Make the Shot: When you eventually swing, you should aim for something similar to a putting stroke in a pendulum motion. The length of the stroke you use will vary depending on the distance you want the ball to travel.
  3. Be Mindful of Your Club: There's a variety of clubs that can be used for chip shots with varying results. The less lofted the club, the lower the ball will fly, giving you greater control over its roll without changing your swing length. The best way to learn what works best for you is by experimenting with multiple on the green.

When is the Right Time for a Chip Shot?

Mastering a chipshot is one thing, but knowing when to employ a chipshot is an entirely different judgment call. Ideally, you want to use a chip when your goal is to get the ball in the hole without sending it very far. 

You aren't looking for height here. You want the ball to stay close to the ground and to roll quickly. For this reason, chip shots are most effective on level or uphill parts of the course.

How to Perfect Your Pitch Shot

  1. Understand How to Position Your Body: Unlike chip shots, a pendulum motion won't cut it for a pitch shot. You'll need to employ a body rotation and some hinge on your wrist. Place the ball in the middle of your stance and ensure the butt end of the club is pointing toward your sternum. Your weight should remain centered over the ball.
  2. Consider Stance Before Swinging: You need to be clear on how high you want your ball to travel when making an effective pitch shot. The further forward the ball is from your stance, the higher it will fly. The closer to your stance the ball is, the lower it will fly. Assess where you need your ball to go and adjust accordingly.
  3. Keep Rotation Under Control: Swinging with rotation will feel reminiscent of a full golf swing, but be mindful of how much speed and power you're putting behind your swing. Have a specific destination in mind and adjust your power to that. As with chip shots, there are multiple clubs that can be used for pitch shots, so experiment with different kinds to find the best fit.

When Should You Hit a Pitch Shot?

Pitch shots are perfect when you need the ball to travel a long distance, overcoming various obstacles such as sand pits or bodies of water. Essentially, you want the ball to hurtle over these obstacles and land gently right where you want it. 

Always identify just how large the obstruction is before swinging. Height is of paramount importance here. How high you send the ball should be directly proportionate to the amount of course it has to cover. The less course to cover, the higher the ball has to go - otherwise, you'll overshoot. 

Sometimes, you might find yourself in a situation where you don't need the ball to travel far, but you need it to go high to clear something small, like a single bunker. This calls for a particular kind of pitch shot known as a flop shot

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Chipping and Pitching?

Multiple factors differentiate chipping and pitching, but the most significant is the height the ball travels at once hit.

What Is a Pitch vs. Chip Shot in Golf?

A pitch shot is used to send the ball a long distance to overcome numerous obstacles or to send the ball very high to bypass one smaller obstacle. A chip shot is used to quickly cover a short portion of the green with a specific goal in sight.

What Does Pitching Mean in Golf?

Pitching refers to hitting a ball to a higher trajectory than comparative shots. With pitching, it's all about height, and although accuracy is still important, it's less specific than other shots. 

Final Thoughts

Knowing the terminology is one side of things, but implementing what you've learned is more important. That takes practice, and to practice at optimal capacity, you need to own the right gear. Browse Stitch Golf’s full collection of golf bags and apparel today and see for yourself what you're missing out on! We're a favored golf equipment retailer for a good reason.