Amateur players ask me all the time how tour pros hit that 50-yard pitch shot that flies low, takes a few bounces on the green, then stops cold. Hitting down on the ball with significant clubhead speed is one key, but another important aspect is how the club moves through impact.
If you want to hit a low-trajectory pitch shot that grabs on the green, make sure the toe of your wedge is pointing skyward in the follow-through (above, left). For a higher, softer pitch shot, be certain the clubface is pointing skyward after impact (above, right). In other words, hold the clubface open as you swing through.
In essence, the low pitch is like an abbreviated full shot in terms of how the club moves through the hitting area. By trying to turn the toe up through impact, you're delofting the clubface, just as you should on a normal iron shot from a good fairway lie.
A side benefit of this move through the ball is that it increases clubhead speed, which produces more backspin. And that's one way to get the ball to stop quickly after it lands.
*Rick Smith, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón in Naples, Fla. *