June 25, 2007

Pitch with your body

Forget the hands for easier touch shots

Backswing: Keep your wrists firm and the club below your beltline.

Backswing: Keep your wrists firm and the club below your beltline.

Most golfers who come to our schools can't pitch the ball with any consistency, so last year I came up with a new technique. The big mistake in pitching is flipping the hands to help the ball up. Problem is, few people have the timing to pull that off. My method is controlled by the body, not the hands, which makes the motion more consistent.

Grab your most lofted wedge, take a wide stance, and play the ball in the middle. Then, instead of hinging the club up on the backswing, keep your wrists firm and the clubhead low, below your beltline (above, left). On the downswing, turn your body through, feeling the heel of the club lead the toe through impact (above, right). Keep the clubhead low to the finish. Provided you don't have too much bounce on your wedge, you'll slide the leading edge right under the ball and pop it up softly.

This method really takes your hands out of the shot, and your hands are usually the troublemakers. Remember, keep your backswing compact, and then turn to the target. This new technique gets a whole line of school students hitting the prettiest little pitch shots. I bet it'll help you, too.

Butch Harmon, ranked No. 1 by his peers among Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers, runs the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco Golf Club, Henderson, Nev.