Skills Development: Scoring With Pitching

My favorite thing about the Golf Academy so far has been the outdoor Skills Development sessions we’ve had with PGA Professional Jay Friedman.

Andrew Tyrholm demonstrates the cut shot, named for the path of the club.
Andrew Tyrholm demonstrates the cut pitch shot, named for the path of the club.

This morning, my Advanced Elements of the Short Game class met at Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe for a hands-on discussion of the pitch shots we recently covered in Scoring With Pitching – specifically the punch and run, the hinge and hold, the pinch (or spin), and the cut shot.

We broke up into groups to demonstrate each of the different shots. My group demonstrated the hinge and hold technique, a shot with a longer backswing but a short follow through. It works best out of iffy lies when you have to carry something such as a bunker between you and the hole. This is pretty much the only shot Phil Mickelson employs for all of his short game wizardry.

The hinge and hold is a higher, softer shot with less roll played from fairly close to the green surface. The ball should be played more in the middle of the stance with the hands even with the ball. The player’s weight should be evenly balanced, and when the player swings the club back, the hands will hinge. On the forward swing, the player retains the hinge, holding the face in the square position until well after impact. The ball comes out on a higher trajectory without a lot of spin but will stop fairly quickly due to the height and distance traveled. Here’s Jay demonstrating the hinge and hold technique:


Golf Club Assembly & Repair
We’re finally starting to build our own golf clubs! There are a lot of numbers to consider before you start tipping shafts and mixing epoxy, and while there’s no such thing as the “perfect fit,” you can get pretty close if you do your homework. Length and then lie are the most important aspects in club fitting.

The sparks are flying when PGA Professional Gary Balliet butt cuts the shaft of a fairway wood.
The sparks are flying when PGA Professional Gary Balliet butt cuts the shaft of a fairway wood.

The first club we’re building for ourselves is a fairway wood. Before the end of the semester, we’re also going to be building a putter, a set of irons, a junior set, and a sand wedge. Building a fairway wood is a pretty extensive process that eventually becomes second nature. Here’s the step-by-step process we’re learning:

* Who’s the club for?
* New owner’s specs – length, shaft flex, grip size, and material (graphite or steel)
* Predict the swing weight
* Tip the shaft for flex
* Butt cut the shaft for length and swing weight with a slit grip
* Pure the shaft
* Abrade the tip of the shaft so it will accept the epoxy
* Install the ferrule onto the tip of the shaft
* Epoxy the head to the shaft, aligning the “pure spot” with the clubface and let dry
* Install the grip
* Re-check the specs

Watch as PGA Professional Gary Balliet puts the finishing touches (notice the pink ferrule) on this fairway wood:


Blogger’s Note:
This semester’s Match Play Team Tournament is underway. There’s a $300 purse up for grabs, so there’s more at stake than just bragging rights. My partner, Devon Montoya, and I are the No. 1 seed in the bracket-style format, and after a first-round bye, we played our first match Monday at The Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix. Each of us were 2-3 under par on our own ball and easily closed out our opponents 5&4. This week, we play at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, a course I’ve never played.

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