Play Your Best | Gimme One ThingOctober 14, 2014

The Upslope Pitch

Good players love this shot. Here's why

THE KEY MOVE: Position your shoulders level with the incline, then swing up the slope.

THE KEY MOVE: Position your shoulders level with the incline, then swing up the slope.

Of all the uneven lies you get around the greens, the upslope is by far the easiest. The hill provides built-in loft, so all you have to focus on is catching the ball solidly. Do that, and you'll hit a nice, high shot that lands softly.

The problem is, a lot of golfers feel the need to lean into the slope on uneven lies, and that turns this into a much harder shot. Leaning forward makes your swing steeper, so you have to drop the clubhead perfectly onto the ball. If you don't get this just right, you'll tend to catch the ball fat—and hit it nowhere.

Take advantage of the slope by setting your shoulders level with the incline. That makes it play like a normal pitch. Because the hill adds height to the shot, take a club with less loft, like a 9-iron instead of a sand wedge, and play the ball a little forward of center. Then just swing up the slope. You'll pop it into the air and have a chance to save par.

BUTCH'S BASICS

If you're pitching from an upslope and the pin is close, you really benefit from the extra loft the hill provides. Still, amateurs tend to quit on this shot and leave it in the grass. You have to commit to making an aggressive swing, even though the shot is so short. This ball's going to go higher and land softer than you think, so commit to accelerating through the shot.

Butch Harmon operates his golf school at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev.