Pitching is the first real opportunity to swing
the club. In putting, we learned the importance of focus and taking the
club through the ball on down the line. In chipping, we learned the value
of a pre shot routine that provides us not only information and a feel
for the shot but a method of enhancing the focus on that one shot. S.A.R.E.
Be forward thinking: From a stance that is slightly narrower
and slightly open, with the ball centered, ensure your weight is more
on the front foot and your hands are slightly forward of the ball. This
will ensure you make a downward strike on the ball that delivers the bottom
of the club to the bottom of the ball. Imagine the bottom of your swing
being the forward edge of the ball.
On Path: The most important key to accuracy in pitching is
getting the club head moving consistently down the target line.
The Take-Away: Is in one piece with shoulders, arms, hands
and club head all moving together for the first foot or so. The wrists
now cock ( putting the face of the club in a toe to the sky position),
and remained cocked until they are released by the rotation of the forearms
at impact on the forward swing.
Distance Control: Is essential to a good pitch shot and like
the putt and chip shots, distance is controlled by how far back we take
the club. (Longer backswing for longer pitches, shorter backswing for
The Forward Swing: Like a full shot, is downward through
the ball to a position about waist high. As the forearms rotate just a
little, extending the arms, hands and club head down the line toward the
target the wrists will release. Think of it as if you were shaking hands
with someone on your target line.
Grip Weak for Strong, High, Soft Pitches: Weaken your grip
by rotating both hands slightly more counterclockwise than normal so that
your left palm is pointing toward your right shoulder.
7-8-9 Distance Control: Using the left arm as an hour hand
on a clock take it to 7 oclock (Six being at your feet, 12 at you
head). The wrist cock should bring the club virtually horizontal with
the toe up.
Bunker Bonus: Although covered in a separate clinic, because
the bunker shot is so similar to a pitch a common mistake is made causing
a lot of frustration. Set up with the ball in the center to forward part
of the stance which is opened left of your target while the club face
is aimed right of the target.
The exception, the dreaded Buried Lie: Set the club face
up slightly closed. This will help the club face get deeper
in to the sand without you trying to help it. Swing more abruptly in more
of a V shaped swing. Dont quit on it. Follow through
is a must for any pitch or bunker shot.
Jim Meisner is is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Midwest Golf Academy at Cozy Acres Golf Complex in Madison, Ind. Call him at (812) 273-3137.