Every golfer wants to chip and pitch the ball closer to the hole. They want easier up-and-downs for par. However, for one reason or another, a lot of golfers struggling with chipping and pitching the ball.
While we're not here to give mechanical advice (see a PGA of America professional for that advice and instruction), we do have important tips and tricks that you should know to improve your chipping and pitching, getting you closer to the hole for par saves.
5 golf tips and tricks for chipping and pitching the ball
- See the line of the shot before you hit it: All too often, golfers don't spend the ample amount of time seeing the shot in their minds before they try to execute a chip or a pitch. Instead, think of chipping and pitching like you would putting. Find the line and study it, then identify an aiming point. In the case of chipping and pitching, your aiming point is where you want the ball to land. Then imagine how you want the ball to run out toward the hole or your target. Have a plan before you hit your shot.
- Know when to go high and when to go low: Golfers often have one kind of stock pitch and chip shot, and they stick with it even when the situation calls for something else. At a minimum, you need two shots: a higher shot and a lower shot. Use the higher shot in one of two situations, either when you need to get the ball onto the green by hitting over something like a bunker or when you need a soft landing to kill spin for a tight target. Use the lower shot when you're going uphill and need to get the ball rolling or when you have a lane of shorter grass to get your ball to your target.
- Use the wedge shaft like a lever to pull off different heights of shots: This is simplifying things perhaps too much, but it's important to know that, when pitching and chipping, you should think of the shaft as a lever. The farther forward it leans, the easier it is to get the ball on the ground quickly. The closer it is to your standard position? The more likely you'll get the ball in the air.
- Don't be afraid to walk off short-yardage shots: Wedge play is about precision. That means having an exact yardage to not only the hole but also your target. Go ahead and walk it off. Feel the terrain. Read the resulting rollout a little like a putt. Then you'll know when you stand over the ball that you have a plan and can execute it with confidence. A few extra seconds over a chip shot could well save you minutes hitting extra shots.
- Develop a variety of shots using the clock system: Pitch shots should not be a guess. You should know how far you have to hit the ball and you should have an equally good idea of how far you'll hit the ball if you swing a certain way. Make sure to practice your pitching with backswings of different lengths, knowing how far you'll hit the ball if you take it back a foot, to parallel, two-thirds and three-quarters. Think of the backswing as the minute hand, always changing. Think of the starting shaft position as the hour hand. It doesn't move during the start of the swing and it guides the trajectory of the shot.