One question many students ask me is “What’s the difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot?” The stock answer is the chip shot is low and rolls and the pitch shot goes high and lands without much roll. However, it’s not quite that simple. In this week’s article we’ll take a look at the versatility and the importance of mastering the green side pitch shot.
Hopefully you tuned in to The Masters tournament last week and witnessed brilliant play around the greens. When I watch a golf tournament, I pay particular attention to the variety of shots the professionals are faced with throughout a round. As an instructor, I’m looking at how they set up, what club they have chosen, the size, speed and rhythm of their swing, the trajectory of the ball and what occurs after the ball lands on the green.
Let’s start with a basic set up:
- Line up the ball in the middle of the stance.
- The club shaft should be slightly angled toward the inside of the lead thigh.
- Shift your body weight so that 60 to 70% of it is on the lead foot and stays there throughout the swing.
- Hands and arms are soft (relaxed)
Which club should you choose?
I carry four wedges in my bag. In general, the distance and trajectory I want for a particular shot will be the factors in determining which wedge will work best for me.
Length, speed and rhythm of swing:
Distance is a key element in precise green side pitching. The length and speed of the swing, along with club selection are the main factors which influence how far the ball will travel.
All advanced players know how to change the height of their shot. They can pitch the ball low, medium or high all with same club. How you set up, control the clubface through impact and finish can determine the arc of your shot. In the example below, I’m going for a medium-high ball flight. Note the position of my clubface at the finish. It’s pointing skyward and a little left which will give me the height I need for this shot. For a higher shot, I would finish with the clubface positioned directly skyward. I like to feel that my arms and upper body are moving at the same speed. Try keeping the club shaft pointing towards your stomach as you turn through to the finish.
Carry and roll:
The height of your shot will determine the amount the ball will roll after it hits the green. If you’re a player that prefers pitching with different clubs, the following formula may help: Pitching wedge 50% carry/50% roll, gap wedge 60% carry/40% roll and sand wedge 70% carry/30% roll. While there are no hard and fast rules, using these figures as a guideline may help you perfect your green side pitching skills !
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