Mind-Blowingly Simply Pitching (and Bunker Shots)

A slight hinging of the wrists makes pitching seem more difficult.

So last week, I detailed the mind-blowingly simple chipping technique we covered in Methods of Teaching with PGA Professional Ed Ekis. But that was only half the story. We also covered pitching. And like the chipping techniques we discussed, it’s just as simple. I only wish I had learned this sooner.

What is pitching? It’s a shot with maximum airtime and minimum rollout. Where do we use it? Off the green, usually from 0-30 yards. Why do we pitch? To get over something. What makes this shot more difficult than putting is the fact that there is a slight hinging of the wrists. For mind-blowingly simple pitching that carries the ball onto the green and softens the roll, try the following technique:

1. Grip down slightly, usually about an inch. This gives you more control.

2. Use a finesse grip. Place your left thumb (for a right-handed player) on top of the grip. You should be able to see one less knuckle on your left hand grip than you normally do.

3. Stand with your feet 14-15″ apart. That’s about the width of a shoe.

4. Play the ball in the middle of your stance, centered under your sternum with your weight even to slightly toward your lead food and the club face aimed at the target. For good lies, you can move the ball more forward. For bad or tight lies, you can move it back. This creates a more descending blow.

5. Swing the club short to long – parallel to the ground about waist height and finishing vertical, with the club in front of you like the flagstick you’re hitting to. The lower body is supportive, and everything moves together in rhythm. Tempo and rhythm are key in pitching. Don’t be afraid to take a few practice swings to get that tempo dialed-in.

Here’s a secret you won’t hear every day: hitting out of bunkers works the same way. Just think of a bunker shot as a fat pitch shot.

After years of compiling data
After years of compiling data, Dave Pelz released a series of airtime:rollout ratios.

Try This Drill
After years of compiling data on the short game, Dave Pelz released a series of airtime:rollout ratios. See how your ratios measure up.

Pitching Wedge (PW) = 1:1; Ex: 15 yd. airtime: 13 yd. rollout
Gap Wedge (GW) = 1.5:1; Ex: 15 yd. airtime: 10 yd. rollout
Sand Wedge (SW) = 2:1; Ex: 15 yd. airtime: 8 yd. rollout
Lob Wedge (LW) = 1:.5; Ex: 15 yd. airtime: 6 yd. rollout

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