Perfect timing this week to cover the extreme basics and definitions of pitching and chipping. Why? The PGA Championship's host course this week is Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. This course has many collection areas around the greens which will catch errant shots which don't hit or stay on the green. The balls will roll into these areas and the players will have the options of pitching, chipping or even putting out of them. We are going to define pitching and chipping today.
Chip shots are shots around the green which don't carry very far. Chips fly a short distance, then roll most of the distance. It is best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible and if possible hit a chip over a pitch. Chips are easier and can be played with just about any club in the bag.
The best situations to chip are when the ball only needs to carry a few feet of fringe or rough, then roll. So if your ball is say 40 feet from the pin and you're eight feet from the green, a lower chip shot which carries about 10 feet, then rolls 30 feet like a putt is best. That's a chip.
Personally, I like to use a putting stroke with an 8-iron around the greens when chipping.
Pitching is somewhat the opposite of chipping. Pitch shots carry farther, then roll a shorter distance. The situation will dictate the need to pitch. For instance, you are 40 feet from the pin, but the first 30 feet the ball must carry some rough and a bunker. The last 10 feet or so are all the green you have to work with. The situation dictates a shot which flies about 30 feet to carry the bunker and deeper grass, then rolls 10 feet. That's a pitch.
My usual club of choice for pitching is a 60 degree lob wedge.
Most amateurs try to fly the ball far using a lob wedge around the greens no matter what the situation. But chipping is much easier and there is less chance for error. Therefore it is most advisable to chip when possible. Analyze the situation and pick the shot which is dictated.
While watching the PGA Championship this week, study the situations the pros run into when they miss the greens and see which shots they choose.