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Golf  Digest Top 50 Teacher                      2005 LPGA Central Section Teacher of the Year                      Golf Magazine Top Teacher Southwest Region                      LPGA Class A Member

By Lana Ortega

The pitch shot is a short shot used anywhere from about 10 - 100 yards from the green.  It’s a shot that spends more time in the air, and less time on the ground. 

If you consider that the leading greens in regulation for the LPGA Tour and the PGA Tour is 13 and 12 respectively, you realize the importance of accuracy in partial shots around the green for the recreational golfer.  In order to save par, we must have the ability to control the distance and trajectory of our pitch shots to stop the ball close to the flagstick.

Setting Up A Partial Wedge Shot:

Use your sand wedge for most pitch shots.  The sand wedge has more loft than your pitching wedge and will hit the ball higher and with more spin.  There are just a few adjustments to your regular full swing set-up to hit a partial wedge, or pitch shot.  Grip down on the club about an inch for greater control and stand an inch loser to the ball.  Adjust the width of your stance to match the distance you need for the shot.  Take a relatively narrow stance to hit the ball a short distance and take a progressively wider stance as the distance of the shot increases.  Position the ball just left of the center of your stance with your weight evenly distributed.  Position your hands just slightly ahead of the ball.  This will help you create an impact position where your hands lead the clubhead into the hitting area with a slightly descending angle. 

Pitch Swing Technique:

Good pitchers of the ball have minimal leg action on the backswing, using their arms to create the length and leverage necessary for the shot.  On the forward swing, however, the body unwinds to the target as the arms swing the club, keeping it in front of the body.  The key is to get your arms and body to work together.  Poor pitchers reverse the process by using too much body action going back and have “dead” legs on the forward swing, leaving the hands and arms to manipulate the club.

Let the club work down into the ground through the hitting area as your body unwinds to the target.  This produces the correct impact position where ball is contacted first, and a slight divot occurs on the target side of the golf ball.  Good pitchers never let the clubhead flip by their hands.  This makes the clubhead travel too level into the ball and the “scooping” action with the hands and wrists can produce fat and thin shots.  You should finish with your weight on the left side and your belt buckle pointing at the target.

The Right Length With Even Rhythm:

The length of your swing should be appropriate for the distance of the shot.  A short pitch requires a short swing, and a longer pitch a longer swing with equal distance back and through.  Not only should your swing be an even length back and through, but it should have even rhythm as well.  For example, it’s very difficult to have even rhythm when your backswing is too long, and you decelerate on the forward swing to keep from hitting the ball too far. 

Practice Properly To Control Distance:

There are 3 important keys to practicing pitch shots: 1) When you’re at the range, be sure to practice pitches to different distances; 2) it’s important to know the distance of the pitch you’re practicing; 3) when you practice a pitch to a certain distance, you get a feel for how the length and pace of your swing matches the distance you hit the ball.  When you’re faced with a pitch shot on the course, determine the yardage, then use your practice experience to produce the correct distance every time.  

 

 

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