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Pitching

WHEN

  • A pitch shot is useful in various situations, primarily when you are too far from the hole to use a chip shot or are too close to make a full swing.
  • A pitch shot has a higher trajectory than a chip shot resulting in more airtime than roll time.

SET UP

  • Ball position center of stance for stock pitch shot. The lower you want to fly the ball the more you move the ball back in your stance. The higher you want to fly the ball the more forward you play the ball.
  • Width of stance is slightly narrower than shoulder width, again personal preference.
  • Weight is evenly balanced, perhaps slightly favoring the target side of your body (left side for right handed players) depending on the type of shot you are hitting.
  • Hands should be even with or slightly ahead of golf ball, again depends on which type of shot you are hitting. The lower the shot the more forward the hands and the higher the shot the more the hands will be even to slightly behind the ball.
  • Align your feet, hips and shoulders closer to parallel to the target line.
  • You may grip down on the club for most pitch shots for added control and feel.

TECHNIQUE

  • There are basically three different types of pitch shots you can hit. There is the leading edge, mid-sole and training edge style of pitch shot. The difference is where the sole of the club makes contact with the ball and turf.
  • The leading edge pitch shot is appropriate when you want the ball to remain relatively low, hop once or twice and then check up. Ball position for this shot is further toward your back foot. Imagine the leading edge of the club making contact with the ball and turf at the same time.
  • The mid-sole pitch shot is your stock pitch shot. Simply let the club swing freely allowing gravity to take over and the club will make contact with the turf in the middle portion of the sole. Ball position is middle to slightly forward of middle for this shot. Better players may swing slightly more around the body than they have in the past.
  • The trailing edge pitch shot is probably the most difficult pitch shot for most players. This is where you move the ball position forward in your stance allowing your hands to set up slightly behind the ball at address. Swinging freely with arm and wrist action, the trailing edge makes contact with the turf prior to contacting the ball resulting in a very high-flying, soft landing shot.
  • Your lie will dictate which type of pitch shot is appropriate, for example, you would not choose to hit a trailing edge (flop shot) off a hard thin lie. The leading edge pitch shot is much easier to hit in this situation.
  • In addition to where on the sole you make contact, you can swing the club on basically three differing paths. Straight back and through path with minimal club face rotation (stock shot), inside-to-out path with some face rotation for added roll or outside-to-in path holding the face open through impact resulting in the higher, softer more spinning and checking pitch shot.
  • If you choose the inside-to-out path you may want to close your stance slightly like you would to hit a draw off the tee. The outside-to-in path calls for a slightly open stance like you would do to hit a fade.
  • To pull off the flop shot, the arms move up more than around with minimal hip rotation in the back swing.
  • Backswing and forward swing should be equal in length (toe up to toe up drill).
  • Limit backswing length to left arm parallel to the ground for stock pitch shot (for example, 56 degree wedge will fly approx. 50 yards assuming dead hands swing).
  • Backswing tempo should be smooth and steady, not fast and jerky.
  • Keep the club head moving through the hitting zone.

STRATEGY

  • Use the same swing tempo for each shot.
  • Vary swing length (both back and through swing) to control distance.
  • The more wrist hinge to higher the ball will fly.
  • A shorter swing (with less wrist hinge) will typically fly lower and roll more.
  • Use different clubs to modify trajectory and roll.
  • Turn your hips/body through the shot.
  • Let the body rotation and length of the swing provide momentum to move the ball forward (avoid the flip).
  • Practicing on a slight downhill slope will quickly and greatly improve your pitching skills.