Take a good look at your last round of golf. Maybe you struggled a bit with the driver or approaches. Tally up the strokes though, and it’s obvious — it’s the short game that matters most. The biggest part of the game is played inside 100 yards.
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If you are looking to lower your score – and who isn’t? — practice your pitch, chip and putt. You’ll build confidence and consistency, and melt strokes off your score this summer. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at the three short game shots.
THE PITCH SHOT
Let’s start with high-flyer, the pitch shot.
When to Pitch
The pitch has high trajectory and little roll. It takes you over obstacles like bunkers and creeks and is usually in the 45 – 65 yard range. A pitch lands softly on the green and stays there – a thing of beauty.
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The Clubs – Wedges
Most players carry 2-3 wedges, a PW (pitching wedge) and a SW (sand wedge). The third club is a GW, the gap wedge. If PW has 48 degrees of loft on its face and SW has 56, the GW has 52. It fills the distance gap between the PW and SW. At a full swing, PW might go 80 yards, GW 70 yards, and SW 60 yards. In a pitch shot, the distance might be: PW: 40-50, GW: 30-40, SW 20-30. If you carry 3 wedges, you’ll have your distances covered inside 100 yards.
A Word about the Sand Wedge
Just because it says “Sand Wedge” doesn’t mean it’s only for sand! Not at all. The SW is your highest lofted club – so use it! When you don’t have much green to work with, a high, soft shot with SW will save the day.
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The key to hitting a pitch is to hinge your wrist on the backswing. “Hinge for Height” is my motto!
- Position ball in middle of stance. This produces a higher ball flight.
- Use your higher lofted clubs – PW, GW, SW
- Hinge your wrists (HINGE FOR HEIGHT) on backswing to form an “L” between club and your left arm.
- AT IMPACT (the moment of truth) – your left arm and shaft of club SHOULD FORM A STRAIGHT LINE!!!!!
- You must hit the bottom of the ball to make it go in the air. Hitting the middle or top won’t work!
- To generate more distance, rotate the clubface as the club gets near the ball. This gives the club head more energy/speed and makes the ball go farther.
- On Follow Through – your right arm and shaft will form an “L” and our right arm will be roughly parallel to the ground.
- Make sure your right palm faces the ground on your follow through to ensure that you rotated the club face as stated above.
- Use your legs to help hit the shot! This is the strongest muscle group you have! Your belt buckle will face target on follow through – meaning as you start your downswing, your weight will shift towards the target.
- Hold your finish on follow through! Be your own instructor and learn to evaluate your finish!
The above 10 steps to pitching comes from my “Instructional Cheat Sheet for Golfers” that’s posted on the web. Take a look!