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How To Pitch It With Loft

Make a full wrist hinge, and accelerate through

Lesson Tee: Phil Mickelson

Photo: J.D. Cuban

June 2009

Some pitch shots require a high trajectory, either to carry a bunker or to get the ball close to a tight pin. A common mistake I see among amateurs is cutting across the ball on an outside-to-inside swing path (inset), as if they're playing a bunker shot.

Phil Mickelson

Don't Cut Across It
You can create plenty of loft swinging toward the target (top), instead of cutting across the ball (above), as long as you don't turn the face over.

It rarely works, because the hosel comes into the ball at a steep angle ahead of the clubface, often resulting in a fat shot or the dreaded shank. Even if you make clean contact, the ball rarely starts on line.

The key is to aim your most lofted wedge at the target, and then swing directly down the target line (above). Make sure you hinge your wrists fully on the backswing, and then accelerate through with your arms. Don't "release" the club, because you'll ruin your smooth rate of acceleration and have trouble keeping the clubface aimed at the target through impact. Just slide the clubface under the ball, and it will pop up nicely and fly straight. Don't count on a lot of run -- the height of the shot and the spin you impart from the clean contact will cause the ball to settle quickly.

The instruction in this article was adapted from "Phil Mickelson: Secrets of the Short Game." The DVD will be available in April. For more information, click www.golfdigestshop.com

Phil also shares his short-game knowledge in Golf Digest's Make Me Better initiative, where you can access hundreds of lessons, enter our grand-prize sweepstakes and get a free putter grip.

J.D. Cuban

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