Chipping Vs. Pitching: When and How to Use Each Technique

By Gary Wiren

Golfer hitting a shot around the green

You hear the words chipping and pitching to describe your short game all the time, but the two words cannot be used interchangeably. There is a subtle difference between chipping and pitching, and each type of shot has its own characteristics and technique. Perhaps the most important distinction is simply knowing when to hit a chip shot, and when to hit a pitch.

Chipping Vs. Pitching

Here is exactly how chip and pitch shots differ from each other. Let’s take a look at how and when to hit each type of shot.




Carry (air time)







One-lever (shoulder-club head)

Two-levers (shoulder-wrists-club head)


One-lever (shoulder-club head)

One-lever (shoulder-club head)


8-iron - PW

52-60 degree wedge

Chip Shots

Chip shots are the simplest type of short game shots. A chip shot is a one-lever swing that doesn’t have any wrist break. The result is a lower shot that gets on the ground quickly and rolls to the hole. Because chip shots do most of their work on the ground, rather than in the air, you hit chips with a less-lofted club than pitch shots, typically anything between an 8-iron and pitching wedge.

How To Hit a Chip Shot

To hit a chip shot, set up with the ball a little back and your stance slightly open. Make a short, one-lever takeaway and hit down on the ball, with the club head just brushing the grass after impact. The ball should carry only a short distance, and roll the rest of the way to your target.

Practice hitting chip shots with two or three different clubs, ranging from an 8-iron to a pitching wedge, and vary the length of your takeaway to get comfortable hitting chip shots to different distances. This will prepare you for every chip you’ll face out on the course.

When To Hit a Chip Shot

A great rule of thumb is that if the situation allows for it, your first choice from off the green should be to hit a chip shot. Here are some indicators your next shot should be a chip:

  • There are no obstacles between you and the hole (bunker, water, etc.)
  • You have plenty of green to work with to roll the ball to the hole

Pitch Shots

Pitch shots add one more variable to the chip shot template, some wrist break that turns a one-lever swing into a two-lever swing. Pitch shots launch higher and carry farther than chip shots, and don’t cover much ground once they land. Because the goal of a pitch shot is to fly the ball much farther in the air, hit pitches with your most lofted club, a lob wedge or sand wedge with somewhere between 54 and 60 degrees of loft.

How To Hit a Pitch Shot

To hit a pitch shot, make a short takeaway just like with a chip shot, but add some wrist hinge. The amount of wrist hinge you add, as with the length of your takeaway, depends on the length of the shot. From there, hit through the ball, striking the ball first, then lightly brushing the grass after impact. Your finish in a pitch shot should look just like it does with a chip shot, with your shoulder and club head finishing on one line. Resist hinging your wrists or elbow in your finish.

When to HIt a Pitch Shot

We established that your default shot from just off the green should be a chip shot, but that option is not always available. Here’s when you know it’s time to hit a pitch shot:

  • The shot requires you to carry an obstacle (bunker, water, etc.)
  • You don’t have much green to work with and must stop the ball quickly once it lands
  • You are too far from the hole to hit a chip

The Final Pitch

Chipping and pitching are crucial parts of your game to lower your scores, but don’t use the two terms interchangeably. Understanding subtle but important difference between two, and how and when to hit each type of shot, can lead to better decision-making on the course.

Category: Chipping
Sub Categories: Swing Mechanics

About the Instructor

Gary Wiren
Gary Wiren
Trump International Golf Club
3505 Summit Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL. 33406
Tel: 800-FOR-GARY
Tel: 800-367-4267