Out of the Bunker: Learning the difference between a chip, pitch shot

Metro Creative
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I get asked quite often what the difference is between a chip and a pitch. Not all of my students ask this question, but those that do are typically higher handicap players. This question is another example of why golf can be so complicated for so many people.

By definition, a chip shot is a “short shot played around the green with the idea of rolling the ball as much as possible.” Meanwhile, a pitch shot is “a shot played with a high-lofted club that is designed to go a relatively short distance, typically inside of 50 yards”.

With that being said, does it really matter how we define these two shots? I certainly don’t think so. By worrying so much about how to distinguish between these shots, players generally confuse themselves into not fully committing to their shot.

Rather than learning how to define these shots, I suggest that you focus more on learning how to determine the most critical element of the shot.

Should the ball go high or stay low? The closer you are to the green, the more likely it is that you should hit a chip shot to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. On the other hand, as you get a bit further from the green, you should begin focusing on hitting the ball a bit higher so that you can carry the ball onto the putting surface.

To become a better golfer, you must develop a feel for not only hitting the right shot, but also for making the right decision on the shot to hit. As you get closer to the green, start focusing on the trajectory that your upcoming shot requires.

If the shot requires that you hit the ball a bit higher, this would be a pitch shot. If the shot allows you to keep the ball lower to the ground, this would be a chip shot.

Focus on the shot you need to hit, rather than the definition of the shot. Do this and you will definitely improve.

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