Hitting good pitches shots shaves strokes off your score. It also helps lower your golf handicap. Good pitch shots can help you save par when your chances of doing so are slim. Players adept at hitting pitch shots can save hundreds of strokes over the course of a season. They also can record dozens of pars they might not have had otherwise—thanks to their ability to get up and down. If you want to take your game to the next level, master the pitch shot.
But mastering the pitch shot is easier said than done. Pitches are unforgiving. There’s no room for error in accuracy or distance control. A pitch shot landing 10 to 20 feet from the hole doesn’t do much for you. To hit god pitches, you must know how to change shot trajectory to match your lie. Creating the right trajectory takes the guesswork out of hitting pitches. Eliminate the guesswork from hitting pitches and you’ll shave strokes off golf handicap.
Use Your Wrists
The key to controlling trajectory is in your wrists, as we tell students who take our golf lessons. You must use your wrists properly to match the lie at hand. If you fail to match shot trajectory to your lie, you’ll probably struggle getting short wedge shots close. So work on using your wrists to control height of your shot. Below are golf tips on how to use your wrists to hit high and low pitches:
To hit a short wedge shot high, cup your left wrist (bend it back) on your downswing. This opens the clubface and adds lift to the shot. Use the logo on your glove as a guide. If you can see the logo on your glove when cupping your wrists, you’ve done it correctly. Use a high pitch shot when you have to carry a bunker or don’t have much green to work with.
To hit a low pitch shot, bend your left wrist forward on your takeaway. This bowing action closes the clubface and takes loft off the club. Use the logo on your glove as a guide. If you look down and can’t see the logo, you’ve done it correctly. Use a low pitch shot when the front of the green is open or you have a lot of green to work with.
Ball Position Is Also Key
Ball position also helps you control shot trajectory. The further back you position the ball at address, the less loft you’ll get on your shot. The further forward you position the ball address, the more loft you’ll get on your pitches. Below is a drill we use in our golf instruction session to teach players how to vary shot trajectory by moving the ball back and forward at address.
Using your basic pitching stance, play three shots with the ball positioned off the heel of your forward foot. Next play three shots with the ball positioned in the middle of your stance. Finally play three shots with the ball positioned off your back foot. Use the same stance and swing for each shot. Do this repeatedly until you get comfortable hitting from the different ball positions and confident making shots from each position.
One word of caution: Make sure your head remains stationary on all three shots. It will be behind the forward ball position and ahead of the back ball position. This may seem strange at first if you’re not used to playing the ball at different address positions, but you’ll get used to it.
Accurate pitch shots save strokes. But hitting accurate short pitches is easier said than done. To do so you must learn to vary the shot trajectory. Use a high trajectory when you have to go over an obstacle or don’t have much green to work with. Use a low trajectory when the front of the green is open or you have a lot of green to work with. Hitting accurate pitches will help you shave strokes off your golf handicap and take your game to another level.