To Pitch, Chip Or Putt

By Chris Foley, PGA Master Professional






This season my Tee Times column is going to focus on shotting better scores by improving your game from 150 yards and in. 

By definition, a putt rolls on the ground, a chip is partially in the air but primarily on the ground rolling, and a pitch is primarily in the air without much roll.  To improve your scoring, knowing when to hit each shot and becoming proficient with each will greatly enhance your scoring skills.

Playing great golf is not about hitting more great golf shots, it is about hitting better bad shots.  It is hitting your bad shots closer to your intended target.  Around the green, misses tend to be closer to the hole when we keep the ball closer to the ground.  With that in mind anytime you can putt you should putt.  When you can’t putt you should chip and pitch the ball only when you must.

Use the following criteria in deciding whether to putt, chip, or pitch.

Putt – when the ball is off the green and there is either very little fringe to putt though or the turf between the ball and the green is short enough and firm enough where there won’t be a huge difference in speed between the two surfaces.

Chip – when you have green to work with, the most efficient shot is a chip the ball.  As a rule of thumb if you take the distance between the edge of the green and the hole and divide that distance into fourths.  When chipping, fly the ball one fourth of the way and roll it three fourths of the way.  When you are in a position that allows you to hit a shot with this type of ratio you should chip the ball.  The club selection for a chip shot can range from an 8 iron through lob wedge based on the amount of roll you need.  The more roll you need the less loft you would choose.  

Pitch – when the ball is in a position where you don’t have a lot of green to work with, you need to carry a bunker or a mound, or you are having to hit to an elevated green, a pitch shot is the appropriate shot.  A pitch shot is going to hit with your highest loft club or clubs.  A sand wedge or lob wedge.

Becoming proficient with each of these shots around the green and knowing with to hit each with give you a much better opportunity to shoot better scores.