Genesis Scottish Open

The Renaissance Club


Saturday Morning Tip: Underreach your pitches

September 09, 2011

The other day I played a public course on Cape Cod, the Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds in Barnstable, Mass. This course is a lot of fun, but I kept getting some tough lies to pitch from around the greens. A few of the lies were tight, some were fluffy. Some of the grass was damp and thick; some was sparse and dry. Making solid contact on those partial pitches was a challenge. Then I remembered a lesson I got years ago from the late and great Paul Runyan, who won two PGA Championships.

Underreach the clubhead at address. That is what Paul advocated on pitch shots.

In other words, don't ground the club; let it rest lightly on top of the grass behind the ball. Then, with a relaxed grip pressure and tension-free arms, swing the club up to the top, and then let it fall of its own weight back into the ball. As long as you maintain the posture you started with at address, you will make solid contact every time. If you don't interfere with the natural swinging of the club, gravity will allow it to slide just under the ball. You'll be amazed how easy it is to make solid contact, even when the lie is less than perfect. Consider it the genius of Paul Runyan. You can also experiment with different ball positions, depending on the trajectory you want to achieve--farther forward for higher shots; farther back for lower ones.

Good luck with your game this weekend and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*