The Perfect Pitch Shot

Posted on: 28 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Enhance your golf skills with these techniques to a perfect pitch.

One of the greatest skills you can have as a golfer is the ability to pitch well. On par-4s it helps you save par if you’ve been in trouble off the tee. On par-5s it can help set up birdie chances when the green is out of reach in two. That ability to turn three shots into two will have a dramatic effect on your average scoring. It is a wonderful skill to have and one that is definitely worth working on.

Four Set-Up Essentials

Poor quality pitching often stems from a poor set-up. Here are four steps to a better set-up and more successful pitching action.

Make sure that your feet are only slightly open, and that your shoulders are square.

Choke down on the grip. This gives you maximum feel and clubhead control as you swing.

Pull the ball back in your stance and hold your hands forward.

Keep your chin up. This simple move tends to lead to a better posture, with the spine angle more erect, and it gives you space under your chin to turn your left shoulder. Try to feel as though you are almost looking down your nose at the golf ball.

Maintain The Triangle

Smoothly Does It

There is no place for ego in the world of pitch shots.

It is not about how far you can hit your pitching wedge; it is about how close the ball finished to the flag.

That is the only meaningful measure of success.

For that reason, leave aside any thoughts of trying to force your pitch shots.

A smoothly-accelerating swing is far more effective.

If you feel you need to hit a pitch shot hard to reach the target, then you are using the wrong club.

The wedge swing is often a difficult one to master, partly because a lot of amateurs view this shot as less-than-full and therefore assume they have to do something different. The most common tendency is to get a little too “handsy” in the swing, with the body almost going to sleep. That leads to poor strike and distance control.

This may not be a power shot, but you should still endeavour to make the perfect blend of arm swing and body turn as you start the club away from the ball. A useful swing thought is to visualize the triangle formed by the shoulder and the arms, then to maintain that for the first 30in (75 cm) of the backswing.

Let your body turn in harmony with the swinging arms, your left shoulder moving behind the ball as the backswing continues.

Crisp Contact

The ideal pitch shot is one where the ball rises steeply to the top of its flight and then lands softly with little or no run. With this in mind, on the downswing you should encourage a slightly descending angle of attack.

The goal is crisp, ball-turf contact and lots of backspin. However, you must not quit on the shot at impact; this will result in too large a divot and a loss of distance. Instead stay focused on making a positive swing through the ball to a neat finish.

Shoulder-To-Shoulder Swing

One of the most common mistakes that amateurs make when hitting pitch shots is to make a full swing and try to hit the ball too hard. The ball tends to balloon into the air, with no control of spin or trajectory.

Remember, pitch shots are all about control. It’s not a contest of how far you can hit it. So, think in terms of making a “shoulder-to-shoulder swing”. That is, the hands travel to shoulder-height in the backswing and shoulder-height in the follow-through.

Your only other focus should be on maintaining a smooth rhythm in your downswing and a sense of “natural acceleration” into and through impact. This encourages a sweet and consistent strike, making it easier for you to judge line, length, and spin.

Shaft Angle

Swing Secrets

Position the ball in the middle of your stance.

Point the butt-end of the club at the ground.

Hands lead the clubhead into impact.

Head stays over the point of impact, to stabilize swing.

Keep your left arm fairly straight.

Take the club back just beyond the vertical position.

Low Hands

The hands swing to shoulder height in the backswing, then through to shoulder-height in the follow-through.

Hands And Chest

To help promote a synchronised golf swing, think of the hands staying in front of the chest throughout.

Body Rotation

Body rotates in harmony with the arm swing.

Narrow Stance

Lags are only slightly apart, creating a narrow stance.

 The Golf BookThis extract is taken from DK's The Golf Book, available at all good bookshops or online from Amazon.

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