Let's face it, most of us don't hit a lot of greens in regulation when we play. Therefore, the 30- to 50-yard pitch shot becomes a very important shot.
Unfortunately, most of us are not very good at it because we are always trying to hit up on the ball instead of hitting down on the ball.
Letting the loft of the club get the ball in the air is far better than trying to scoop it up with excessive hand and arm action. Here are some ideas for you to ensure that you will start hitting down on your pitch shot:
Set up with a narrow stance with 60 to 70 percent of your weight on your front leg.
Your ball position should be in the center of your stance or even a little back of center.
Set up feeling like your left shoulder is a little lower than your right shoulder. This will ensure a downward approach to the ball.
Take a one-quarter to one-half backswing. In doing so, you should have a little set of the wrists.
Your weight should stay on your front leg throughout your entire backswing.
The downswing should start with a gentle turn of the body and not a quick movement of the hands and arms. Most amateurs use their hands and arms from the top of their swing, and they end up scooping the ball, oftentimes skulling the ball over the green or hitting behind the ball.
Like all shots, the hands should be ahead of the clubhead at impact. This ensures a downward blow and causes the divot to be taken a couple of inches in front of the ball. This shot is not a wristy shot so there should be little or no release of the wrists and clubhead after impact. This can only be done if the body is turning and pulling the lagging clubhead through impact.
To keep your thoughts simple on this shot, think of these short phases: Set and swing on the backswing, Turn your chest at the target to start your downswing, Hit down, and make sure you extend your arms on the follow-through.
If you have trouble scooping the ball up in the air and have inconsistent contact, try this drill. Put a tee two inches in front of the ball you are hitting. Simply try to hit the ball and make sure you clip the tee.
Soon your contact will get better as you learn to keep the handle in front of the clubhead at impact.
Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at the Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com.