Short Game

You'll Pitch Better If You Don't Hang Back

October 11, 2018

Photo by J.D. Cuban

Great advice to remember when hitting pitch shots is to swing through impact on a shallow angle, letting the bottom of the clubhead slide along the turf.

Having said that, I've seen the application of this advice prove troublesome for some amateurs, because they try to do it off the wrong foot—the back foot. This typically happens because the golfer wants to help get the ball in the air with some unnecessary hand and body english. There's no need for that. Wedges have more than enough loft to produce a high-and-soft shot, especially if the angle of attack is shallow—think skim, not dig.

So what I want you to do is make sure your body is being supported by your lead foot as you swing through impact. An easy way to ingrain this into your pitching game is with the classic step drill. It's reminiscent of Gary Player's signature move of walking toward the target in a seemingly continuous motion after he struck the ball. In this drill, swing down feeling all of your weight shift into the front foot. As your club is about to meet the ball from that shallow approach, your back foot should be off the ground and starting to move toward the target. Hit the shot and step forward as you see me doing here.

Getting your weight forward is going to help make your pitching game much more reliable.

Shank one shot, you try to brush it off and move on. Shank the next? Full panic sets in. Before you walk off the course and put your clubs on eBay, let me help. First, understand that the shanks most often occur when the golfer has moved too close to the ball at impact. Sometimes we unknowingly drift toward our toes as we swing, and this causes the club to strike the ball near or on the hosel. So what can you do?

TRY THIS: At address, lift your toes inside your shoes (below), and keep them up when you swing. This will prevent you from moving toward the ball and clanking one off the hosel.

—With Ron Kaspriske


Photo by J.D. Cuban