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Pitching Golf Shot
A pitch shot is a shot that should get the ball into the air quickly in order to clear an obstacle directly between you and the hole.
You want to get more airtime and less ground time.
A pitch shot is usually played with a pitching, sand, or lob wedge. The loft on these clubs is anywhere from 45 to 64 degrees.
So if the loft of the club is used as designed the ball should shoot into the air rather quickly. To help the ball get in the air even more, some players will open the face of the club in order to add even more loft.
The pitch shot is the few short game shots that will include a cocking of the wrists.
Golf Pitching Grip
The grip used when hitting a pitch shot is the same grip used in the full swing. As with chipping the hand placement on the grip will be closer to the club head due to the length of the shot.
Golf Pitch Alignment and Posture
When setting your alignment for a pitch shot you want to set your hips feet and shoulders slightly open to the target line so that they are to the left of the target line.
The reason for this is that the clubface position for a pitch shot will be open, (pointed to the right for a right hander) in most cases
- The feet should be just a little less than shoulder width apart.
- The knees should be flexed as much as you would with a full swing shot,
- The hands should be even with the front thigh, just as with a chip shot.
A good way to check for proper posture is to hold a club against your back with the right hand holding the grip end near your head and the left hand holding the club head end near your lower back.
The correct posture should allow the shaft to lie against your back and the back of your head.
If this feels awkward you need to work on your posture until you can get into this position
Ball Position For a Golf Pitch Shot
The preferred ball position for a pitch shot should be right in the middle of your stance.
Once again, with the hands even with the front thigh and the ball position in the middle of the stance, this will produce a shot that utilizes the loft of the club being used if the impact position mirrors this set up position.
Pitching Golf Swing
The movement involved in a pitch shot will combine the shoulder stroke of chipping while adding a cocking of the wrists.
To get the feel of the proper wrist cock needed to hit a pitch, grip the club and set up to the ball. From this position move nothing except the wrists so that the club is parallel to the ground. That is the only movement the wrists make during the shot.
This wrist motion is combined with the shoulders and arms rocking back and through.
To get an idea of the proper position:
- Cock the wrists so the club is straight in front of you and parallel to the ground.
- Rotate the arms until the shaft is parallel to your target line.
This is where you should try to get when swinging the club back. When looking at the clubs head in this position the toe of the club head should be pointing towards the sky.
I like to call this position “toe up”.
In this same position your front arm (left arm for right handed golfers) should be extended and your back arm (right arm for right handed golfers) should be close to your side.
The movement you will make from here is to let the club fall towards the ball while keeping the wrists cocked until the last possible moment.
Once the wrists release the club head should brush the grass underneath the ball with the hands even with the front thigh and the finish should be a mirror image of the backswing with the back arm extended and the front arm close to your side, with the toe pointing toward the sky when the shaft is parallel to the ground.
Although this seems like a lot of different positions to get into, the finished product should feel like one smooth motion. To simplify the following paragraph you can just go toe up to toe up while brushing the grass. This is a great drill to get the feel for the proper pitching move, as well as a great drill to build muscle memory for full swing shots.
Improvising Your Golf Pitching
The pitch shot can be changed to make the ball do different things.
If you are looking to hit the ball really high, you can open the face up a lot, aim left, and take a normal pitch swing.
This will add extra loft to the club and the ball should land very softly.
The more you open the face though, the further left you must aim.
Another way to manipulate how the ball reacts once it lands is through the release of the hands. If you want the ball to land and roll, you should brush the grass and let the toe of the club turn to the left on the finish.
If you want the ball to land and stop, you should brush the grass and try not to let the toe of the club rotate at all after impact.
Common Pitching Mistakes
Fat and Thin Shots
As with the chip shot, these misses are usually caused by letting the hands fall behind the club head at impact.
This is also called scooping.
Instead of trying to try to help the ball in the air with the wrists, you should feel like the hands need to be even with the front thigh at impact and the loft of the club will take care of getting the ball in the air.
These shots can also be caused by moving the center of the swing. A good way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to make sure that the head stays still throughout the swing.
You also want to make sure that you keep the heels of your feet on the ground during the swing to eliminate any unnecessary lower body movement.
The only way to improve your touch when pitching is through practice, practice, and more practice. The more pitch shots you hit, the better your touch will become. You will also learn to hit a variety of pitch shots with different clubs once you start to practice.
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