Genesis Scottish Open

The Renaissance Club


Three keys for better control with your pitch shots

January 03, 2020
Butch Harmon

J.D. Cuban

Thirty yards out. Over a bunker. Tight lie. You might think this shot is a nightmare, but you can beat the stress with a few simple keys.

For starters, commit to the hit. Don’t make the common mistake of taking a long backswing so you have to decel at impact. Limit your swing so you can accelerate through the ball for better contact.

The next thing is letting the loft of the club do the work.

I tell my players “Return the loft,” meaning whatever loft you set on the clubface at address, return it at impact. Too many players try to add loft by flipping their wrists on the downswing.

Finally, let your body release toward the target.

I know you’re nervous and want to lock yourself in place, but you’ll hit a lot of fats and thins that way. Let your body naturally turn through the shot (left). The more you get your arms and body working together, the better you’ll do. —WITH PETER MORRICE


"My father, Claude Harmon, won the 1948 Masters, and he learned the strategy of the game from his friend Ben Hogan. Their regular bet was $10 for missing a fairway or green. On short par 4s, Dad would hit driver off the tee to leave himself an easy wedge, but Hogan would hit 4-wood, 8-iron. After they played one particular hole this way several times, Dad asked Hogan why he went with the 4-wood. ‘Because you can’t hit the fairway with driver, and I can hit the green with an 8-iron. I’ve already won $40 on this one tee shot.’ A lesson Dad said he never forgot.”