Pitch and Putt: An Introduction

What is pitch and putt?

Pitch and putt, or putt putt, is a shortened form of the game of golf and is popular because, generally speaking, the shots you play are shorter than on a full-size golf course. This makes the game easier to learn, and if you are an occasional player, you won’t be too embarrassed because you can’t go too far wrong. This makes pitch and putt is a great social activity for family and friends who normally wouldn’t play golf.

How is it different to normal golf?

The main difference to playing golf is that the holes are shorter, from 30 yards to 200 yards at the very most. This means that you would expect to play three main shots at each hole: a ‘pitch’ from the tee to the green, and two ‘putts’ to get the ball in the hole, hence the name. In theory, then, you should be able to play every hole in three shots, but it is never quite as easy as that!

Now the fact that you generally only play three types of shot (the other shot you have to play is the chip), means that you can play any course with only two types of club: a short iron such as an 8 or 9 iron and a putter. This also makes the game attractive to the occasional golfer.

The other attractive feature, as the course is shorter, is that it does not take too long to play a round. A good round can be remembered and savoured, but a poor round can be soon forgotten!

What is it like to play on a pitch and putt course?

As a pitch and putt course is shorter than a normal golf course you do not have to play any long drives from the tee. Now, you may think that this makes playing pitch and putt much course easier than playing a full-size golf course. However, some aspects of the course design make things much tougher. Firstly, the greens are very small, so you have to be very accurate with your pitch shot. Also, the greens tend to be rather bumpy and unpredictable. On the trickier courses, they often have a distinct slope, which makes pace judgment difficult.

The bunkers on pitch and putt courses, if there are any, also tend to be rather hard and shallow and woefully short of sand. This makes it more difficult to get the ball out of the bunker, and you don’t have much green to work with when you do.

The pitch and putt course can be an enjoyable experience from a visual point of view, as often each hole is very different, but because they are short, they usually have one main feature, which makes each hole distinctive and memorable.

Some tactics and suggestions for playing pitch and putt

There are many different tactics to playing pitch and putt, and you can be a good player without playing ‘proper’ golf shots. However, here are some tactics I have learned over the years that keep my score respectable:

Generally, your tee shot, the pitch, should be aimed straight at the flag, unless there is an obvious bunker in the way or slope on the green.

It certainly pays to ‘float’ your shots, hitting the ball high in the air, but ensuring that when it lands it doesn’t roll far. Normally ‘bump and run’ where you pay a low, skiddy shot doesn’t work on pitch and putt as the ball runs through the green too easily.

Don’t worry if your tee shot goes awry or too far, the most important shot is the second shot. This is the one that gets you within putting distance of the hole. You can recover a poor drive with a good second shot, but a poor second shot will leave you further from the hole than when you started and you can easily drop two shots.

Generally, it pays to be gentler with your putting, than aggressive. Most greens are only watered by the rain and consequently are very fast.


Most people who play pitch and putt don’t keep a score of their round, but there are always competitive types, who take the game seriously. I’ve found the best game to play is match play, seeing who wins the most holes. This way you are measuring yourself against your opponents, whoa re roughly at the same level. You can also play stroke play if you like, but one bad hole can really wreck your card as shooting a 10 (surprisingly easy to do!) makes a huge difference. Also, I wouldn’t play strokeplay assuming that each hole is a par 3 – it can be very depressing!

The mental approach

Pitch and putt is a fun, relaxing, enjoyable game, so it’s not worth getting too stressed about it. Even if you are an experienced golfer, you will always find something on the course will catch you out, so accept this, laugh at your mistakes and you will have a much more enjoyable game. If you have a bad hole, don’t worry, there is always another one coming up and if you have a bad day, don’t worry, you have a great chance to beat that score next time. The amin thing is to enjoy your round and if you shoot a low score – all the better!