Golf Guidance

General tips can help
to improve your golf game


(July 2010)
Read Previous Golf Columns!
Jim Meisner

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 shorter pitches).

• 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.
The club face will remain open through the impact zone. The shot will be shorter, fly higher and land softer. (Caution: Don’t try to help the club do its’ job by scooping. Just make the swing, the club will do the work).

• 7-8-9 Distance Control: Using the left arm as an hour hand on a clock take it to 7 o’clock (Six being at your feet, 12 at you head). The wrist cock should bring the club virtually horizontal with the toe up.
Make the forward swing and follow through to the shake hands position. Make 15 shots, measure the average distance the ball carried. This will be your distance for a 7 o’clock swing. Do the same for 8 and 9 o’clock. You now have three shots with this one club. Do the same for all your wedges and perhaps your 9-iron. You may now have as many as 12 to 15 shots available to you around the green. All require practice, practice and more practice.

• 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 swing is then made across the front of your body. The leading edge of a sand wedge is designed to go down or “dig” into the sand. (That’s why we may use it for pitches out of heavy rough). That is also why you don’t have to help it by trying to scoop and lift the ball out, which is the most common mistake. This causes the club to dig far too deeply in the sand leaving the ball in the bunker or it bottoms out too quickly thus “bouncing” and causing you to blade the ball either into the face of the bunker or out and across the green into the next time zone. Virtually every bunker shot requires you to follow through at least an equal distance to the distance you took the club back and normally with a “U” shaped swing.

• 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. Don’t 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.


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