Friday, March 9, 2012

Pitching...Hit the Simplest Shot for the Situation

Controlling your ball around the green is the best way to save shots.  It's all about choosing the correct technique and club which will give you the best success consistently.  You have two choices when hitting shots from around the green.  You can either go high, or you can go low.  Going "high" means you are going to hit a standard pitch shot.  Going "low" means you are going to hit the pitch and run shot.  I will always take the low route when possible as this is a safer shot due to the minimum amount of swing needed.

I am going to explain the difference in a standard pitch shot and a pitch and run shot.  I think you will see from the pictures when to pitch and when to pitch and run. 

A pitch shot is used when you need to carry the ball all the way onto the green and then have very little roll.  This shot is most handy when you either have to carry a bunker, or the hole location may be near the edge of the green and there is no other way to get to the hole but go high.  This shot requires you to use your most lofted wedge and I recommend you carry a wedge with at least 56 degrees loft.  Any wedge with a loft of 56-60 degrees will be best.

As you can see in this photo, the pin is located near the edge of the green so you have to hit the pitch shot. 

The main focus for the pitch shot is to let the wrists hinge upward on the backswing, and then re-hinge on the forward swing.  At the bottom of the swing, you will clip the ball and turf at the same time.  I highly recommend taking a practice swing and try to clip the turf.  I have found it works if you "hear" the shot.  In other words, when you take your practice swing, listen for the club sweeping the turf.  Then, when you hit the shot, try to emulate the sound you just heard.  You will know immediately if it sounds correct or not.  When you think of sound instead of technique, there will be less thinking and your shots will be improved.

The pitch and run shot is best used when you have some green to work with.  In this photo, the hole location is in the middle of the green and there is no reason to fly the ball deep into the green.  The pitch and run shot is much more safer as there is less swing and follow through.  The goal is to land the ball about two steps onto the green and then let it roll to the hole.

For this shot you club of choice is a wedge with 50-55 degrees loft depending on how much roll out you need.  The less the amount of loft on your wedge, the more roll you will have.  Here are a couple of pictures of the proper technique for a pitch and run.  The backswing and follow through are much more compact.  There is very little wrist hinge on the backswing and none on the follow through.  The goal is to strike the ball first then the turf just as you would for a chip shot.

There is one more significant difference in the two shots...the ball position in your stance.  The ball position for the pitch shot is slightly in front of center and the position for the pitch and run is off the big toe of your back foot.

A question which might arise is what is the difference in a pitch and run and a chip shot?  For the most part, a chip shot is for shots located one to three steps from the green.  The club of choice may be a five iron through a pitching wedge depending on how much roll out you need.  A pitch and run is used when the ball is located four or more steps from the green.  The maximum distance for a pitch and run could be seven to eight steps from the green.  Any longer and a pitch shot is probably the best choice.

To become a well rounded golfer you must have an arsenal of shots which fit the situation!  Try to spend at least half of your practice sessions hitting these type of shots.

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