Is there a difference between chipping and pitching, or are they the same? Let us see if we can shed some light on this short game conundrum.
These two shots are different. There are two basic differences in the shots. First, with chipping there is little or preferably no wrist hinge. Secondly, the ball spends more time on the ground than in the air.
With pitching, there is not only wrist hinge but a hinging of the back elbow as well. The ball is in the air longer than it is on the ground. Now that we have ended the confusion, let us focus on the chip shot, and the two basic philosophies that are being taught today.
The most popular system used today is to use one or two clubs (lob, sand, gap, pitching wedge or maybe an eight iron) and become proficient with them for all chip shots around the greens. This system requires a lot of practice, and a constant change in the length of the swing, and constant change with how much force is needed to control distance.
The method that I prefer is using all your clubs to chip, with the exception of the driver and the putter. This may sound a little confusing, so let’s see if we can eliminate that doubt.
We will start by asking a few questions. If you are 100 yards out what club would you use? For 150 yards? For 200 yards? You have probably answered the questions with different clubs for each distance. You were using the same swing, and just changing clubs to accommodate the different distances.
The chip shot can use the same concept. Different distances can be controlled by using different clubs, using the same swing, and the same force, letting the various clubs control how far the ball will go. The next time you go practice take three or four clubs to the practice green. Set a distance for your backswing, then your forward swing, at a pace which fits your style and your game.
Take the longest of the clubs and hit a few chips and see how far the ball goes. Then take the rest of the clubs, and see how far they go with the same length swing and the same force and pace. What you will find is that by using different clubs, with the same length of swing, you will have multiple distances; with the same swing.
All you have to figure out is how far each one of the clubs is going and then pick the correct club for the distance. Either method, will require some concentrated practice time to perfect but that is one of the joys of the game. To practice correctly; and then to see the fruits of you labor!.