Pitches That Drop And Stop
The simplest way to hit a high pitch shot that lands softly is to focus on your left hand. Keep the knuckles of that hand pointing to the sky as you swing through impact (above). Or you can think about keeping the logo on the back of your glove facing up. Either way, the clubface will be open, so it can slide under the ball and propel it upward. Now, say you need a pitch shot that runs instead of stops. Simple: Turn the knuckles of your left hand to the ground through impact. That closes the clubface, and produces a lower, stronger shot. OK, go make the putt.
DON'T DITCH THE PITCH
The most common pitching fault is making too long a backswing so you have to ease off at impact to avoid hitting it too far. Problem is, when you hit the brakes like this, the club keeps going and flips forward (right), producing a weak strike or mis-hit. Instead, make a shorter backswing and accelerate through the ball. Even on the softest little pitch, you want to be able to swing through. Tailor your backswing so you can do that without fear of going over the green.
BEATING THE BURIED LIE
Here's a good rule on greenside lies: The more the ball is sitting down in the grass, the steeper you need to hit down on it. That's because you want to trap as little grass as possible between the clubface and the ball. If you make a sweeping swing, you're going to plow through a bunch of grass before you get to impact. That sweeping motion can work great when the ball is perched up, but when it's down deep, give it more of a chop.
Butch Harmon, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs the Butch Harmon School of Golf, at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev.