After you have mastered the greenside chip shot, it’s time to move further away from the putting surface – say about 20 to 30 yards out – and into the realm of the pitch shot.
The pitch is a short-game shot that spends more time in the air than the chip, and very little time rolling on the green. Essentially, the pitch represents an evolution of the action employed in the chip. The main difference is an increase in swing length and wrist movement. The pitch is also played almost exclusively with your wedges.
When the pitch is well-executed – with a nice, crisp ball strike – it’s one of the most rewarding and exciting shots in the game. This is a shot you can really enjoy – and stand back and admire – because of your close proximity to the target.
That’s because great pitching is really an art – one of the only shots in golf that you play from varying distances not easily assigned to any given club. You may know how far you hit a 7 iron or a 3 wood most of the time, but with the pitch shot, you are often faced with situations that call for more imagination and feel, backed up by good, solid fundamentals and a mastery of technique.
Let’s start with the technique. Hitting a good pitch is all about controlling how far you fly the ball through the air, and the best players do this by synchronizing the rotary movement and speed of their upper body with the swinging action of the arms, hands and club.
By linking the inside of the swing (your body) with the outside (your arms, hands, and club), you will dramatically improve your ability to consistently control the trajectory and distance of your shots, through the simple turning motion of the body.
As we said before about the chip, there is also a side benefit to learning how to hit good pitches. By focusing on and improving your pitching technique, you typically see an improvement in your full swing and ball striking performance as well.
The only difference between a pitch and the full swing is the most obvious one: it’s a mini-swing, and therefore less dynamics come into play. You turn less going back and coming through, and you do so over a quiter lower body.
Otherwise, all the key elements of the full swing are there, and learning the pitch – or refining your existing technique – is a great place to start when incorporating changes in your full swing.
That’s a strategy regularly used by PGA Tour players.
In the Leadbetter Indoor Golf Academy Bangkok, we will teach you the fundamentals of the basic pitch action and highlight some enjoyable drills and exercises to help you dial in your technique, as well as your distance and trajectory control. With a little practice, the ultimate goal is for a player is to develop a comfort level with each of their wedges. This makes it easier for you to precisely gauge how far you need to hit your pitch shots on the course. Our golf group classes include the pitching as one of the main topic.
Pitch shots are – along with the rest of the “short-game family” of shots (chipping, bunker and putting) – crucial to shooting lower scores.