Working on the pitch shot

The pitch shot is a short, high shot. A typical scenario is a 10 to 40 yard shot with a bunker between the ball and the green.

The shot required is a high shot that stops quickly. The club selection is obvious, the most lofted club in your bag, either a sand wedge or lob wedge. The technique for this shot is not difficult but if golfers don't have a clear visual image of what is required they will struggle with consistency.

The most common technique flaw is the incorrect belief that you must get under the ball. Trying to get under the ball causes two common pitch shot disasters brought on by an ascending blow, (the club head coming up through impact).

The ascending blow causes the club to either hit the ground first or miss the ground and hit the top of the ball. The first step towards consistent pitching is understanding that the ball is struck first and the turf second, thus creating the essential descending blow. The ball gets all the height needed due to the loft on the club - there is no need to try to lift the ball.

The changes from the full swing to this shorter swing are subtle and occur primarily in the set up. The feet should be closer together than for a full swing and open to the line of the target (a line across the toes points slightly to the left of the target). The ball should be either in the middle of the stance or, depending on the way the ball is sitting, a little behind the center.

If the ball is not sitting well move it a little back in the stance, this encourages clean contact. Your body weight should be slightly towards the front foot and the shaft should tilt slightly forward (towards the left thigh). This encourages the descending blow and helps us to lead the club head through impact, as with all shots the hands should be a little ahead of the club head at impact.

The swing itself is simply a shorter version of the full swing. The club should swing back and forward about equal distance with a synchronized swing of the arms and body. The only real difference between this swing and the full swing is that the club face should remain a little open through impact, to achieve this simply see that the club face is turned slightly to the right at the finish position.

Practice swinging the club back and forward equal distance and allow the club to swing down through impact, do not use the wrists consciously and check that your weight is on the front foot at the completion of the swing.

Terry Gingell is a PGA Class A Professional. There's till some spaces for junior golf camp and sports camps July 18-21 at Eagle Valley Golf Courses. For info, call Terry, 690-7970.


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