I wrote this this article a while back – surprised me how many students at our schools don’t remember or use.  Thought I’d publish again for all those who haven’t seen before – and definitely won’t hurt to read again.

When you are around the green and determining what type of shot to hit, use the following guide:

P – Putt when you can

C – Chip when you can’t putt

P – Pitch when you have too.

First – let’s define the different shots.

Putt – obviously a putt is any shot hit with your putter whether on the green or not. It is a shot that should be considered when off the green in short grass (fairway or low rough) no matter the distance to the green.

Chip – A chip is a shot that has minimal fly and maximum roll. It can be a shot that hits just on the edge of the green and rolls to the hole, or a shot that hits short of the green (i.e. the first cut of rough) and rolls on the green toward the hole. A good reference is a chip is typically a shot that has less than 80% fly and more than 20% roll.

Different clubs are recommended for a chip shot. For example, a shot with 50% fly, and 50% roll may require a pitching wedge, where as a shot with 70% fly and 30% roll may require a lob wedge. (Club selection will vary depending on type of golf ball you play, type of clubs you hit (soft vs. hard metal wedges), etc..)

Pitch – A pitch shot is a shot that has maximum fly and minimum roll. Typically more than 80% fly and less than 20% roll. It can vary from a shot that hits and rolls a few feet to a shot that stops very fast (a flop type shot).   A pitch shot is typically hit with your wedges, and many times with your most lofted wedge (lob type wedge).

Many average golfers select the improper type shot to hit when around the green.

An average putt will typically be closer to the hole than a good chip, and an average chip will be closer than a good pitch.   Statistics show for an average golfer (one who shoots around a 90 or has a 20 handicap) from 50 feet, an average putt will be 10 feet from the hole, an average chip will be 15 feet from the hole and an average pitch will be 20+ feet from the hole.

Plus, when you factor in the variance of a “miss hit”, you will quickly see why you want to follow the PCP guide.

Let’s take for example a green side shot in which the ball is sitting 20 feet off the green (in the first cut of rough that is cut relatively low) and 80 total feet to hole.   Using the PCP guide, you would putt this type of shot.

If you consider miss hits in the scenario above – a miss hit putt might leave you 10 to 15 feet short or long of the hole.   A miss hit chip might leave you 20 to 25 feet short of long of the hole, and a miss hit pitch might only go a few feet (fat type shot) or blade over the green (blade type shot).

In summary – most average golfers make mistakes which cost them shots on the golf course by selecting the incorrect shot to play in their short game (around the green).

When factoring the percentage of hitting a good shot vs. the result of an errant shot, a good rule of thumb to follow is: Putt when you can, Chip when you can’t putt, Pitch when you have too.

In other words, anytime you are selecting a shot to hit around the green, whether on the green or not, determine first if you can putt the shot, if not, can you chip the shot, if not, you will have to pitch the shot.

Following the PCP guide will improve your short game and decrease your scoring guaranteed.