PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

Pitching Basics

April 06, 2015


You're 20 or 30 yards short of the green, and the pin's just a few steps on. You'll have to fly it most of the way. Grab your highest lofted wedge, and take a narrow stance, with most of your weight on the front foot (1). Your stance should be open, the ball well forward, and your grip pressure light.

Swing back to about hip high, and as you come down keep your wrists firm__(2)__. If you flip your wrists, you'll have trouble hitting the ball solid or getting enough height on the shot. Instead, think of it as a mini swing: Do all the things you do in your normal swing, just to a lesser degree. This will keep you from using all arms, which I see a lot of amateurs do. Turn your shoulders, and let your body pivot naturally.

At impact, don't try to help the ball up. Swing through and let the loft on the clubface do the work__(3)__. If you close the face at all, the ball will come out low and run. Holding the face open through impact will produce maximum trajectory.



If you have more green to work with, grab something with a little less loft—I use my 54-degree. Your setup is similar to the high pitch, but the ball is centered and your stance is not as open (1). You're going to want this one to come out lower and run more.

Pick a spot on the green about a third of the way to the hole—that's where you should land the ball. So, if the flagstick is 20 yards onto the putting surface, try to land it six or seven steps on and let it run to the cup.

For the swing, I think about it as a big putting stroke. That keeps my legs from getting too involved in the motion and reminds me to rotate my torso back and through (2). I try to feel as if I'm hooking the chip, letting the clubface turn over so the toe is pointing toward the sky at the finish__(3)__. This is important because if you pop this shot up, it's going to stop short, and you'll be looking at a long putt.


Ryan Palmer, 38, has three wins on the PGA Tour.