What Is a Pitch Shot in Golf?

Merrick Bremner of South Africa pitches to thje 3rd green on the East Course during day three of the Joburg Open
Playing a pitch shot from just off the green. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

A "pitch shot" (or just "pitch") is a shot played with a highly lofted club that is designed to go a relatively short distance with a steep ascent and steep descent. Pitch shots are played into the green, typically from 40-50 yards and closer.

It's easy to picture a pitch shot when it is contrasted with the chip shot. A chip shot is usually played from closer to the green and the ball is in the air only a short amount of time; the point is to get the ball onto the surface of the green and let it roll toward the cup. Most of a chip shot is roll. A pitch shot, on the other hand, is in the air for most of its distance, with much less roll once it hits the ground; a pitch shot also goes much higher in the air than a chip shot.

Pitch shots are played with wedges - one of the clubs in a set of irons is called a "pitching wedge" because it was originally designed for this shot. But other wedges - gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge (all of which have higher lofts than a pitching wedge) - are also used for hitting pitches.

Generally, if you have the option of hitting a chip shot or a pitch shot, it's best for most golfers to go with a chip (see "Favor chipping over pitching when possible"). But you don't always have an option. When you need to get the ball up in the air quickly; when there is rough or other problem areas between you and green and therefore roll is not possible; or when you want the ball to come down with a steep angle of descent and therefore hit the green without much roll, a pitch shot is appropriate.

Also see:

Also Known As: Pitch, pitching. Flop shots and lob shots are specialized types of pitch shots.

Examples: Mickelson needs to get the ball high and land it soft with this pitch shot.

My pitch shots haven't been landing soft enough lately, so I'm going to the practice area to work on my pitching.