2008-02-22 / Sports

Golf Instruction - The Pitch Shot

By Joel Garyn

(Garyn is a USGFT golf professional. You can contact him for lessons at 347- 404-3751)

Sometimes it is necessary to fly the ball over obstacles to get onto the green. This type of shot is called a pitch shot. The pitch shot may be used further off the green than the chip shot. The ball can go farther with this shot, because you start to let your wrist break on the backswing, and the swing is longer.

It is more difficult to execute the pitch shot than the chip shot, since you are breaking or cocking your wrist.

Asimple key to remembering the difference between the pitch and chip shot is: without using your wrist (the chip shot), the ball will fly lower and not travel as far.

When using your wrist (the pitch shot), the ball will fly higher and can travel farther.

Fundamentals of the Pitch Shot

The setup for the pitch shot is the same as for the chip shot. Except the ball should be placed in front of you, and centered between your feet, as with the chip shot, your stance should be narrow and open to your target.

The weight favors your left leg as your grip down on the club.

Club selection is different for the pitch shot. For a pitch shot, you should use one of the three wedges (P/W 56 degree wedge or lob wedge 60 degrees), to help loft the ball into the air.

The length of the swing will determine how far you hit the ball. Your weight transfer should be subtle and based on the length of your swing.

Imagine throwing a ball underhanded, as, you need to throw the ball farther, your arms swing and weight transfer will gradually increase.

This is the same feeling you experience when hitting a pitch shot. A common error with the pitch shot is that the hands become too active during the forward swing, which minimizes consistency.

You should not try to help the ball up with your hands. The club will have plenty of loft.

When swinging, focus on hitting the ball and the grass at the same time. The ball will automatically go into the air.

To help get below the ball, take practice swings along the grass. When taking these swings, you should hear the club swish through the grass. If you do not hear anything, that means you would have missed or hit the top of the golf ball.

Proper Finish

The position of the clubhead at the finish position, the toe of the club, should be pointing to the horizon and not straight up to the sky like on a normal shot.

This keeps the clubface open, giving the ball a higher flight and softer landing. Practice this shot in front of a mirror to assure you are in the correct finishing position. When in this position, you should feel you right arm underneath or closer to the ground than your left arm.

When the weather becomes springlike, a great place to practice your short game and these types of shots, is at Riis Park Pitch and Putt.

They have holes ranging from 50 yards to 140 yards. Practice your short game a lot more than the longer shots. Your scores will go down and so will your handicap.

Next week, we will start on fairway bunkers and green side bunkers. I will show you different way to get up and down the fairway and help you overcome bunker phobia.

Have a wonderful week and remember golf is just a game. No matter how you play, when you come your dog will not bite you!

Tips

A short backswing and long followthrough will ensure a crisp shot. Poor pitching results from decelerating through impact. Groove a swing with a longer follow-through than backswing. This will keep you from quitting on the shot.

Pitching requires development of "feel." Only practice will allow you to land balls consistently within a certain area from a variety of distances. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at itchgolf@aol.com or call.

Have a great week.

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