By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
5 Steps to a better short game - #4 Pitch Shot
5 Steps to a better short game - #4 Pitch Shot
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- The high soft pitch shot can be one of the most fun shots in golf - when it works. When it doesn't, there are not many easier ways to shoot your highest score of the year.

At all levels of the game, being able to hit successful shots from 100 yards and in is always the determining factor for a good score. Missing the green and throwing away shots from these crucial distances can be the reason your game is not improving. Too often we blame tee shots or long irons, when in reality you can miss hit your drive, thin a 5 iron, and still be within 40-50 yards of the green and have a chance to save par or bogey. Sure, your pride is a bit damaged, but the score doesn't have to be.

How do you hit better approach shots into the green? The answer is in a balanced swing. Whether pitching over a greenside bunker or trying to knock a 50 yarder on the green, the key is keeping your swing in balance and catching the ball at the low point of the swing.

Too often I see players trying to help the ball in the air on pitch shots that have to carry a bunker or area of deep rough. This can carry over into the crucial 40-60 yard shots when you want the ball to land on and stay on the green. Trying to get under the ball is a bad idea at all times. Your golf clubs already have loft built in, you don't need to add any more. Most likely you are going to be hitting your pitch shots with a 56 or 60 degree wedge, so you really don't need any more loft than that for any shot.

We must be able to find the low point of the swing. This is a goal of your pre-shot preparation. You may have noticed that most tour players take a few extra practice swings around the green. Why do you think this is? Two reasons actually, first, they are trying to be certain where the low point of their swing is, and second they are working hard to "feel" the distance of the shot. So learn from the best, take a few extra practice swings and be certain where the low point of your swing is going to be. Adjust the ball position accordingly, and swing with confidence. Don't worry about holding your foursome up, the time it takes you to make some extra practice swings and hit a great shot will always be faster than the time it takes you to rush through a shot and thin one over into the bunker and have to play again from there.

Once you are confident in finding the low point of the swing, we control distance by making a balanced swing. My definition of a balanced swing is a rhythmical motion that travels back and through impact with the same length. In other words, if the shot requires a half backswing, you should make a half follow through. To work on this effectively, try this drill:

Tee to Re-Tee:

  • Place a tee in the butt end of your grip on your 56 or 60 degree wedge.
  • In the backswing, cock the wrists and swing the club back so that the tee points at the golf ball
  • Swing down to the low point and let the club follow through, cocking the wrists so that the tee again points at the golf ball
  • This is a balanced swing. The length can change depending on length of carry needed, but always swing in balance.

    Practice your pitch shots often to see your scores drop rapidly!

    Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
    p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
    10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
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