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Pitching

Pitching in golf is similar to a pitch (slow pitch) in softball. It is a higher, softer shot designed to carry most of the way in the air and have little roll once the ball hits the green. 2/3 carry and 1/3 roll is the general rule, although there are many styles of pitch shots from a pitch and run to a lob or flop shot. The pitch shot is generally used when the player is outside of chipping range (20+ yards), but too close into the green for a full swing. For most players this is the 30-80 yard range.

Pitching Drills

Pitching Tips

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  • Finish High to Prevent Decelerating

    If you find that you tend to decelerate on pitches into the green try finishing high. If you make it a goal to get your hands as high as your head and the butt end of the grip pointed towards the target you leave yourself with a destination that you can accelerate towards. Quitting on the swing is a definite problem for many when they try to shorten their swing, but if you coach yourself to accelerate to a finish rather than just to the ball you will create speed through the shot.

  • Hit Down to Pop it Up

    Make sure to hit down on your pitch shots. Hitting down allows the ball to pop back up. Just let the club go down by allowing it to use gravity and drop to the ground. You don't have to feel like you push it or help it down. When you push the club you will often release it early causing it to bottom out too soon and then you catch the ball on an upswing instead of with a downward strike.

  • Open Your Stance to Shorten Your Backswing

    To shorten your backswing on your pitches and control distance try standing with a slightly open stance. I saw slightly because you don't want to stand so open that you alter your swing path and force pulled or cut shots. When your front foot sits just a bit behind your back foot though, it limits your shoulder turn on the backswing and is an easy way to help control the amount that you wind up. Try a narrow and slightly open stance and see if you don't gain more control.

  • Vary Backswing Length to Control Distance

    To vary distance on pitch shots, vary the length of your backswing. A short backswing with a sand wedge that reaches only to where the shaft is parallel to the ground is going to fly the ball about 20-40 yards for most players. A medium backswing where the left arm would reach parallel to the ground is 40-60 yards and a 3/4 backswing can be anywhere from 60-100 depending on the player and the wedge that they are using.

  • Let Gravity Bring the Club Down

    When hitting pitch shots don't force the club, but rather "let" it free fall and drop down under your ball. If you swing your club up and let it go, it will go down simply because of gravity. The reason we blade pitch shots or hit them thin is that we fight gravity by pulling back up on the club. Simply relax your arms and let the club fall on the ball. As long as you keep your pivot going and your weight shifting through the shot, you won't hit it fat.

  • Lean Left For Tight Lies

    When pitching, for tighter lies lean your weight onto your front foot. This will allow you to cut down sharply under the ball and pop it back up. Leaning back can cause you to bottom out to soon. The result is either a fat shot as your club enters the ground before the ball or a thin shot as you blade the ball catching it on the upswing. Remember for all short game shots swing down, not up, but be sure to shift your weight to your front foot.

  • Keep Your Arms and Chest in Sync

    When pitching, in order to have consistent strikes it's important to keep your arms and chest swinging in sync. This holds partially true for the hips as well. The last thing you want on a small finesse type shot is to have different body parts accelerating at different rates of speed. For instance if you fire your hips and spin them open, but leave your arms lagging behind you are likely to come into impact late and with an open face. The opposite is true if your arms out race your body, you are likely to pull shots. When you keep everything moving at the same rate of rotation however, you are more likely to deliver the face to impact square.

  • Keep it Simple and Play it in the Middle

    When pitching, unless you have to hit the shot particularly high or low, simply play it in the middle of your stance. A middle ball position gives most players the best chance at striking the sweet spot and catching the ball at the right part of the swing arc. If you need to hit the ball higher, remember "left means loft."

  • Visualize 2/3 Carry, 1/3 Roll

    When pitching, visualize the ball being in the air 2/3 of the way and then rolling on the ground 1/3 of the way. This doesn't hold true for all shots as there is a variety of pitch shots such as a lob or a low punch that will require different trajectories, but for your average shot this is a good visual. When you imagine the ball flying 2/3 you can then pick your landing spot on the green which is the most important key to focus on if you want to get your shots close.

  • Finish Affects Trajectory

    Your finish can affect your trajectory. If you are looking to vary the height of your golf ball into the greens, altering your finish position is one easy way to get there. A low finish would produce more of a lower flight as you de loft the face a bit through impact by keeping your hands ahead of the club head. A medium finish (waist high) will allow the club head to catch up enough to add a nice amount of loft on the face and get you a good medium trajectory. A high finish allows you to add even more loft and throw the ball high into the air.

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