Golfers get wrapped up in semantics when it comes to short game shots. The word “pitch” is a shot with wrist hinge. Wrist hinge does two things in your golf swing (if done properly), it gives your ball height and distance. Conversely chips go low because we don’t use or greatly reduce wrist movement plus we have a fairly small swing. We changed the ball position and the club face to change the relative height of the shot.
A pitch is a shot that has wrist hinge (height and distance) because we are taking a bigger swing than a chip. So think 3/4 length swing and 1/2 swing. If your full swing with your PW goes 100 yards and you have 70 yards, you need to take a partial swing and hit a “pitch” shot.
Chip or Pitch? Toss a Ball
The Safe Pitch
The Basic Pitch
Which Pitch: Safe, Basic or Flop?
Tempo and Controlling Distance
Some golfer have a hard time taking partial swings because they swing so hard. If you need to hit it shorter you have to take a smaller easier swing. Vary the length of your swing to create different length shots. Here is an indoor video that has some great content on understanding how to create good tempo.
High Handicappers start at Level 1 and work your way up. Here is your challenge for the PITCH SHOT:
Level 1: Start with the “Safe Pitch” and hit 10 balls with a 1/2 swing (as in video). Observe how far the ball flies and the trajectory. Can you easily stop your swing halfway thru and hold your finish? Are your arms wide versus folded on both sides or your swing? This is easy to observe with a 1/2 swing because it is visually in front of you on the follow thru. Hit 5 out of 10 solidly and note distance. Do the same with your other wedges.
Level 2: Hit 10 Basic Pitches or 1/2 swings observe height difference and distance difference. Hit 5 out of 10 solidly with all your wedges.
Level 3: Hit 5 balls with a 1/2 swing then 5 balls with a 3/4 length swing and notice change in distance. Hit 7 out of 10 solidly. Repeat with all wedges.
Level 4: Pick different targets (yardages) and figure out how much swing you need to land the ball the correct distance. For example: Pick a 50, 60, 70 yard target (adjust lengths for how far you hit the ball with a full swing). Hit 5 balls to each target adjusting the length of your swing (not your umph). Goal is 3 out of 5 balls landing near your target.
Level 5: Do the same drill above but with the other wedges in your bag. Observe the change in height and distance.
Level 6: This is taking to a new level here! Pick one length pitch, for example, 50 yards. Hit 5 balls with your PW, hit 5 balls with your SW and hit 5 balls with a Gap Wedge or other wedge if you have one. Change the length of your swing to land the ball on the target. Hit 3 out of 5 with each club the correct length. Then pick a new yardage! (Note: While your response may be, “I would never use this club for this yardage,” the exercise is to create feel in your swing for short shots, to visualize what each club does at different length swings and you just may be surprised how one of those shots may work for you down the road – windy, wet, left your favorite club on the last green 🙂 etc.)
You CAN do this!