PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Why'd I Do That? Chunking A Simple Pitch

September 21, 2016

Illustration by Chris Gash

Dumping a pitch shot short and into a bunker might seem like a random event, but it happens all the time. There has to be more to it than just nerves, right? Right.

A poor setup and lack of body turn are the major culprits. Make sure you're not leaning away from the target at address to try to help the ball up. The more you lean back, the farther behind the ball you hit. Keep your spine centered above your hips, and play the ball in the middle of your stance. These positions promote body rotation and solid contact.

If you're using a 60-degree wedge, set the face square. You have plenty of loft. If you're swinging a 56-degree, open the face slightly to increase the loft and bounce, which helps the club slide through the grass.

Finally, make a few practice swings brushing the long grass. You want a shallow angle coming down. Shift to your front side, and try to sweep the grass with a blend of the arms, shoulders and body turn. Then step in and execute with the same motion.

The fear of chunking a shot into the sand can be self-fulfilling. Counteract that by planning to fly your pitch shot all the way to the hole. Then, if you tighten up and decelerate out of fear, you'll probably still have enough power on the shot to get over the bunker. Make full, forceful practice swings and then commit to reproducing them when it's go time. —Joseph Parent, PH.D., author of Zen Golf