One of the prettiest shots in golf is the pitch shot. When hit correctly, the ball sails high on an arc through the air, landing on the green with a soft “thump,” within three feet of the hole. Beautiful. I love that sound, and I’ve heard it often when I play with good golfers. The sound is an inspiration for me to improve my own pitching stroke. But it’s not always easy. The pitch is used from a wide variety of distances from the green. How do you know how to execute the swing for each distance? Is it the same swing for a thirty foot pitch as it is for a forty-five?
I’ve researched the internet looking for a simple but effective method to learn the pitch shot, and with thanks to PGA pro Mel Sole, I think I have found one that works. It all revolves around the image of a clock.
First you need to learn the basics of any pitch shot, no matter the distance.
- choose a hi-lofted club (9, PW, SW)
- ball in the middle of your stance
- feet close together
- hands forward
- weight on the forward leg
- club face is open
- lower body is quiet
- cock your wrists slightly as you reach the back of your swing
- accelerate as you hit down and through the ball
- hit the ground after you hit the ball
- be sure to follow through
- always finish facing the target
Next, use the image of a clock face to determine the correct back swing and therefore the distance of your pitch shot.
- make your first swing, stopping your left arm (right arm for lefties) at “seven o-clock,” accelerate and hit down to follow through, note the distance the ball flies.
- make your second swing, stopping your left arm (right arm for lefties) at “eight-o’clock,” accelerate and hit down to follow through, note the distance the ball flies. It will be further than the previous shot.
- Follow this same method for two more swings, only stop your left arm at “nine-o-clock” and then again at “ten-o-clock” and note the distances the ball flies for each.
The distance your ball travels is determined by the length of your back swing. Everything else remains the same. The goal is to become consistent, not only in the distance of your back swing, but in the tempo and pace of the swing. If you speed up on one shot and slow down on the next, even though the back swing is the same, the distances of the two shots will be different.You might try using some phrase to help you pace the swing. I find something with a 1-2-3 rhythm helps, i.e. “back-and-through” or something similar.
Hit ten shots to the same distance stopping your swing at “seven-o-clock,” “eight-o-clock,” etc. Once you know the result of each back swing in relation to distance, you can use it on the golf course, knowing that if you need a 40 yard pitch shot, your x-swing will consistently deliver that distance.
Here is a video that shows you the basics – how to hit a pitch shot with confidence, control and consistency.
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Is the pitch shot your favorite?