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The Best Method to Determine Landing Zones When Chipping and Pitching: Use Essential Landing Zone Systems

Published by Chaz Smith on March 30, 2023


ELZS Chart Book for approximating Landing Zones when chipping and pitching

When determining the landing zone when chipping or pitching, there are several factors to consider:

1. Chipping and Pitching with Soft Hands:

Soft Hands are critical when chipping and pitching. It can help with touch and ball distance control. Soft hands are relaxed when gripping the club, translating into a more rhythmic and natural swing through the golf ball.


Chipping and pitching consistently with soft hands means using a light grip pressure on the club and allowing the club head to release through impact. When chipping and pitching with soft hands, the hands do not create excess tension or grip pressure at the beginning or anywhere throughout the swing, especially at impact from club to ball.This approach tends to create more feel and touch and can help you control the distance and spin of your shots. When you hit your landing zone with soft hands, the clubhead tends to glide through the grass, which creates more spin and lift on the ball and allows it to stop more quickly on the green.

Using soft hands versus tight hands can significantly impact the flight and the shot outcome. Here is a comparison of both methods:
Tight Hands:

Chipping and pitching with tight hands means using a firmer grip pressure on the club and restricting the release of the clubhead through impact. This approach tends to create more accuracy and consistency, especially when playing on slow greens (7 to 9 on the stimpmeter), and can help you control the trajectory and direction of your shots. When you hit your landing zone with tight hands, the clubhead tends to dig into the grass more, creating less spin and lift on the ball, causing it to roll out more on the green. Remember, when chipping and pitching with tight hands, shots typically don't stop where you think they should; the ball keeps running past the hole.


Both soft and tight hands can be effective techniques for chipping and pitching, depending on the situation and preferences. Supple hands are generally better for shots that require more spin and lift if playing on greens that run 9.5 or higher on the stimpmeter (meaning how fast the greens are running), while tight hands are better for shots that require more accuracy and roll-out.

In general, most golfers find that both techniques are effective. They use soft hands for shots that require more spin and touch when playing fast greens. Tight hands when more accuracy and control are needed, usually on slower greens. The key is to experiment with both approaches and find what works best for you on fast greens or slower greens, depending on the situation at hand.

Which is better?
2. The slope of the green:

Observe the slope of the green to determine the direction the ball will roll. T Account for the contours of the green and choose a landing zone that will allow the ball to roll toward the hole.

3. The rough and bunkers around the green:

Avoid short siding approach shots into the greens. If missing the green on approach shots, try to err on the long side of the green to have a better opportunity to get up and down from better positions around the green.

4. Distance from the hole:

Choose a landing zone that is one yard or two yards onto the green to avoid any inconsistency of the ground in front of the green. A factor that is lost when chipping and pitching is knowing the distance from the ball to the hole. Knowing the exact yardage instead of guessing distance will encourage your mind in the processing of touch and visualization when approaching these delicate shots around the green.

5. Repeatable:

PGA professionals work extremely hard to develop a consistent and repeatable chipping and pitching method that works for them individually. All golfers are different. Find what works for you and be committed to making it repeatable. You will build muscle memory, confidence, distance control, and reduce the number of variables that can impact chip and pitch shots.

6. Visualization is a critical aspect of chipping and pitching:

To execute these shots successfully, you need to be able to imagine the trajectory and landing zone of the ball in your mind. By visualizing in your mind, you can better plan the shot, make adjustments, and select the right club. Visualization can help golfers stay focused, build confidence, and maintain a positive attitude. These are all important for determining success within the chip and pitch game. Visualization: Many professionals visualize the shot they want to hit before they step up to the ball. They imagine the trajectory, speed, check of the ball, and how it will roll out on the green toward the hole.

7. Choice of shots played:

Consider whether you are hitting a low or high-trajectory ball, the club type selected, and choose a landing zone that will allow you to execute the shot successfully. Professional golfers usually pick the correct stroke for the situation. Based on factors such as the lie of the ball, the slope of the green, the distance of the hole to the ball, the speed of the greens, and knowing where the approximate landing zone is to land the golf ball to get it close to the hole. They have a perfect understanding of the different types of chips and pitches and when to use them.

8. Be conscious of the wind:

Wind speed and direction can play a pivotal role when chipping and pitching. Know if the wind is in your face, behind you, or at the side blowing across. With this information, you can hit shots that will be less disturbed by the wind and be able to determine the landing zone more efficiently.

9. Wetness or dryness of the greens:

can impact the approximate landing zone when chipping and pitching the golf ball to the hole. Here are a few ways in which the wetness or dryness of the greens can affect your shots: Wet greens tend to be slower and more receptive to spin, while dry greens are faster and provide less spin control. When chipping or pitching onto wet green complexes, you can afford to land the ball closer to the hole, as it will likely stop quickly. On dry greens, however, you need to land the ball farther from the pin allowing for roll-out.


The texture of the greens can also be affected by moisture. Wet greens are softer and less firm, which makes it easier to stick the ball close to the hole. Conversely, dry greens complexes are typically firmer, which makes it more difficult to control your distance and spin.


The slope and contour of the green can be more pronounced when wet. Shots that might have stopped on a dry green could roll out farther on a wet one, while plays that might have rolled out on a dry green might stop more quickly on wet ones. When chipping and pitching onto wet greens, you can aim closer to the hole and expect the ball to stop more quickly. When playing on dry greens, adjust your landing zone to allow for more roll-out and be prepared to adapt to the firmness and contours.

10. Professional golfers typically have a mental approach:

that helps them execute successful chip and pitch shots. These mental concepts that PGA professionals use when approaching these shots will help all golfers see these shots with better clarity.


Confidence is essential when chipping and pitching. Professional golfers believe in their ability to execute the shot and trust their method. They stay positive and focused on the present and avoid second-guessing and getting frustrated with themselves if they fail to make the shot they envisioned.


Professionals focus on the process of making the best play rather than the outcome. They focus on executing each step correctly, from their setup to their follow-through, and let the results speak for themselves.


Incorporate these mental concepts into your chipping and pitching. You will have a free mind, and better focus on execution, allowing for better accuracy and performance when faced with these shots.

11. Incorporate Essential Landing Zone Systems into the chip and pitch game to tie everything together:

The Essential Landing Zone System (ELZS) is the best method for determining the approximate landing zones. Designed by a former teaching professional. The ELZS method uses a chart book with three variables for calculating the landing zone when chipping and pitching. (1) Distance from ball to hole, (2) Club Selection (which club to play for the situation), and (3) Green Speed (how fast are the greens being played). Essential Landing Zone Systems calculates the approximate landing zones based on these parameters. For example, the first variable is distance. If you pitch to the hole from 13 yards away (ball to hole) and the ball lies 4 yards off the green, the second variable is club selection, using a 56- or 54-degree wedge. The third variable is green speed. In this situation, the green quickness is around 11.5 on the stimpmeter on a flat green surface. With the three variables calculated at 13 yards, a 56/54 degree wedge, and the green speed at what ELZS calls "Super Quick Greens" of 11.5, the Essential Landing Zones Systems Chart Book or the ELZS app has the landing zone at approximately 6 yards. The pitch shot needs to travel in the air roughly 6 yards to the landing zone on the green and roll around 7 yards to the hole. When we talk about landing zones regarding ELZS, the area of the landing zone is 6 by 6 feet, or 36 square feet; this is called RC6². Imagine landing the golf ball on the 6-by-6-foot Red Carpet when chipping and pitching for the landing zone. It eliminates being tense, precise, and getting frustrated having to land the golf ball on a tiny landing spot. You do not have to be exact; just be accurate.


The image below is the ELZS calculator for approximating the landing zones when chipping and pitching. The picture shows the three variables above and has calculated the land to be approximately 6 yards. The ELZS method is adaptive, informative, quick, and easy to use. It also meets all USGS and R&A rules for competition by using the ELZS chart Book. 


Essential Landing Zone Systems is also a great learning tool for juniors learning the game of golf; it helps develop and improve their spatial awareness. The ELZS design will help all golfers at every level. Even golf professionals can save strokes by incorporating ELZS into their short game.

The RC6² Rectangle Folds Visualize 6 by 6 foot Red Carpet for the Landing Zone

In conclusion, the landing zone when chipping and pitching is essential for any golfer looking to improve their short game. Use of soft hands, combined with visualization and an understanding of the slope of the green, rough and bunkers around the green, and distance from the hole, can help golfers achieve the desired shot outcome. Select the right shot type, club type, and landing zone to execute the play successfully. Finding a repeatable method that works for you individually can help you build muscle memory, distance control, and confidence. By experimenting with different techniques and finding what works best for you, you can improve your short game and reduce the number of variables that can impact chip and pitch shots. Remember, the key is to practice, stay focused, build confidence, and maintain a positive attitude. Incorporating Essential Landing Zone Systems will lead to lower scores and a more enjoyable golfing experience.  To start using ELZS and additional information go to or Enjoy the journey. These concepts are supported by numerous instructional resources and publications, including:

These concepts are supported by numerous instructional resources and publications, including:

  • "The Art of Putting" by Stan Utley (2006)

  • "Golf My Way" by Jack Nicklaus (1974)

  • "Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" by Ben Hogan (1957)

  • "The Short Game Bible" by Dave Pelz (1999)


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  2. Quaintance, A. (2019). The Importance of Visualization in Golf. GolfLink. Retrieved from

  3. TPI. (2019). Understanding Ball Flight Laws: Low Point and Angle of Attack. TPI. Retrieved from

  4. Zaks, J. (2019). How to Handle the Wind on the Golf Course. PGA. Retrieved from

  5. Kane, B. (2017). The Best Short Game Tips from the Pros. Golf Digest.

  6. Gaudet, R. (2019). Chipping with Soft Hands. Golf Tips Magazine.

  7. Sieckmann, J. (2017). The Difference between Chipping with Soft Hands and Tight Hands. GolfWRX.

  8. Meeks, S. (2017). Chipping and Pitching: Landing Zones. GolfLink.

  9. Ritter, C. (2018). How to Develop a Consistent Short Game.

  10. Randle, J. (2019). How to Visualize Your Short Game Shots. Golf Monthly.

  11. Pelz, D. (2007). Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible. Broadway Books.

  12. Smith, C. (2022). ELZS. "Essential Landing Zone Systems."

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