PITCHING: The birdie making shot!
I used to be a terrible “pitcher” of the golf ball when I was learning to play golf. I could hit it far off the tee but when I got to 70-30 yards from the hole, my knuckles would turn white, my shoulders would be up around my ears and the ground would tremble with my fear! That was not fun! So I learned how to pitch the ball. I practiced correctly until I learned to perform the shot and then I learned how far the ball would carry onto the green. I then observed what it did once it landed. Whew! My golf scores took a dramatic turn for the better!
First of all, let’s clear up some confusion about the definition of a pitch. It is a high, lofted shot, played near and around the green. It is used within 70-30 yds. from the green. The ball spends more time in the air than it does on the ground.
If you are having trouble with this shot, get your technique and the way you think about the shot correct :
The SET UP is most important in executing a pitch shot:
-Your setup should have on “open” stance, weight is 60% left (and stays there as you turn your torso back). With the weight forward, your shaft leans forward with hands slightly ahead of the ball.
-Ball position is under your left ear and the left ear is in line with your zipper. With an open stance, the ball appears to be inside the left heel. Your eyes will appear as though they are slightly to the right of the ball. If you play the ball too far back, it will be hard to turn your body into the shot, thus causing a direction problem (push to the right).
- Make sure your posture is bowed over and your arms hang and are close to you. Watch the tour players when they pitch. Their hands look very close to their body.
Now, THE MOTION of the pitch:
- The torso turns back as the clubhead rises above the waist, thus creating an “L” shape to your left arm and shaft (right handed players). There is a tendency to use only the arms to take the club back and this leads to a less than desirable shot.
- Keep the right arm close to your side and elbows close as you turn the chest back
- On the downswing, the key move is to pull the handle down first as you turn the chest into the shot.
- Keep the chest turning as you move into the shot. When the chest stops turning, the contact is very unpredictable. FAT shots are caused from leaving the weight on the back foot and slowing down the chest turn. Remember, the weight stays left as you turn in the backswing, thereby helping you move into the shot with your legs on the forward swing.
Correct THOUGHTS about the pitch:
- “Squash” the top of the ball on the downswing so that you take a divot in front of the ball. (too many players try to “lift” the ball into the air causing a thin shot.)
- Turn the chest, back and forward
- SOFT HANDS and arms!
- LOOK UP HIGH when you want the ball to fly high!
Sam Snead said that if he had to do it all over again, he would work more with his wedges and his driver. Make this shot your favorite shot and you will see a dramatic improvement in your scores!
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