How to Pitch in Golf

When your next shot is too long for a chip, but too short for a full swing, you can use one of golf’s most commonly used shots – the pitch.

Pitching comes in handy generally anywhere between 10 and 50 yards away from the pin. Because of the short distance, a pitch involves a short backswing and an equally short follow-through. Depending on the amount of distance and loft you want for a particular shot, you can pitch with any club. However, most pitching is done with a high-lofted iron or wedge.

Setting Up

  • Place your feet together more closely than you would for a full swing – keep them just below your shoulders.
  • Keep the ball in the center of your stance.
  • Open your stance by dropping your front foot back a few inches. This way, you’ll be facing your target a bit more directly.
  • Put about 60 percent of your weight on your front foot, and lean your hands ahead of the ball to match your body’s angle.

The Swing

  • The key to the pitch shot is good wrist action – and this starts in the takeaway. You want your wrists to hinge, leading your arms back to about a quarter of a full backswing.
  • Keep your weight on your front foot throughout the entire shot. Unlike in a full swing, there is no weight shift in a pitch shot.
  • For right-handed players, your left arm should remain straight on the backswing, while your right elbow tucks in toward your right hip.
  • On the downswing, let the shaft of the club lead. Let your wrists hinge through the ball at impact.
  • Keep your head down through the swing. Looking up can cause a number of problems – most notably, hitting the ball thin.
  • For your follow-through, let the club go forward as far as you took it back – no more than that. Rhythm, as in every shot in golf, is essential here, and taking either too quick a backswing or downswing will hurt your chances of making solid impact.

Hot Tip: Abbreviate Your Finish

Sometimes during a pitch shot, the tendency is to try and help the ball get up in the air by having a big, full follow-through. This is the opposite of what you want. Try letting the club stop at about parallel to the ground after impact. This will promote solid contact with the ball, and the loft of the clubface will do its job of getting the ball up in the air.

Practice Pitching

The pitch shot can be one of your most often utilized skills on the golf course. Master it by practicing pitching from different distances and with different clubs. Learn how much air you can get from certain clubs, and how much roll you can get on the ball. The next time you’re on a course and find yourself between a chip and a full swing, you’ll know exactly how to knock it close.

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