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Possibly the worst swing shape in pitching

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There are so many ways to hit good pitch shots, however, there are a few that just don’t work.

I have seen just about every shape of golf swing in my career as an instructor, and most of the time I work with a golfer’s motion and try to make my students great at what they do naturally and what works for them from an efficiency standpoint. There are times, however, where the shape is such that a golfer needs a complete short game “make-over,” and I have to start over with them.

These situations tend to occur in golfers who were probably slicers and made inefficient and drastic changes to their golf swing to learn to hook or draw the ball. They ended up learning to hit shots with an enormous amount of spine tilt away from the target, and this made the club bottom-out before the golf ball and caused them to swing too much from in to out. This change would usually be considered a good overcorrection and a noticeably different ball flight would validate that statement, but it can lead to huge problems with these players’ short games.

Is this You?

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 9.35.29 PM

This player (shown above) swings the golf club back too shallow and with a closed club face, and he also swings too much in-to-out on these shots. He creates a very shallow angle of attack into the golf ball, which happens because the club head doesn’t get up off of the ground enough in the backswing. It’s low, inside and around on the way back, creating too shallow of an angle of an attack into the ball.

What’s the problem?

This swing shape almost always shows up in the short game as a bit of a “yip.” These are the golfers who struggle more than normal with tight lies and soggy conditions. They become double hitters of chips, get the shanks somewhat frequently and tend to have one distance of shot out of the bunker. Normally, I would hear this type of golfer say: “The motion can’t be that bad, because I can hit pitches fine from the rough.”

Well, here is the problem. The golf ball can sit up in the rough, as in the image below, allowing the golf club to bottom out early and arc ever so slightly up into the golf ball at impact (just like a driver off the tee). This motion does not work when the ball is sitting on the ground, because when the club bottoms out before the ball it usually causes golfers to swing up into the middle of the ball with the leading edge of the club. That sends the ball scooting over the green into trouble.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 9.38.43 PM

So how does this player compensate from being too shallow, and learn put the clubface on the ball properly? This player gains a steep angle in the swing by hitting the ball with a closed club face. When the ball is struck solid using this motion and a closed, left-facing clubface (for a righty), the golf ball tends to go long and will end up left of a golfer’s aim at address. When the club comes in too shallow, as aforementioned, it tends to want to bottom out before the ball and then swing up into the ball, thus needing the clubface to be really closed so it can make contact with the ball. Sounds tough to be consistent from here? It is.

Let’s Fix This 

DL Pitch JJA

Here is the fix. We need to get the golf club swinging steeper going back, more outside your current path and with a downswing where the club swings aggressively to the left on the way through impact, getting out of the way of the golf ball.

The red arrow above shows the club head position and how it is clearly swinging away from the golf ball, which is tracked above with the yellow arrow. What this does is flip flop your current steep and shallow angles. Your clubface is now set more open relative to your setup. It is this shallow angle that allows you to use the bounce of the golf club, and the angle of attack now becomes the steep angle in the motion. This makes it easier to achieve solid hits off of all different types of surfaces.

photo (2)

If you would like to talk more about this, please feel free to comment below and I would be happy to go into this topic further with you. Remember, your game is only as strong the weakest link.

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Jeremy Anderson is the Golf Swing Guru. Jeremy specializes in full swing through utilization of all different forms of technology that he owns such as FlightScope, BodiTrak, Focusband. Jeremy recently won the 2018 PGA Teacher of the Year Award for the Southwest PGA Section. He is also considered by Golf Digest one of Americas Best Young Teachers for 2019-2019. A six time Nominee for Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year, Jeremy, has had students qualify for USGA events, get scholarships and win college tournaments, and win many national/international junior golf tournaments. Jeremy is also a featured writer for GOLFWRX.com and The Huffington Post. An accomplished player in his own right, Jeremy still loves to compete at the PGA Section level. His mantra to his students is that “If you outwork everyone your only opponent is the moment.”

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Eric

    Jun 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Yes, these are my symptoms as well. I am a 0 who used to be a plus playing to a 5 due to poor chipping. They started when I was taught to swing with my right arm instead of my left, which led to me swinging inside back, and then outside and to the right forward. But I also “drop” my spine angle on the way back – now I understand that means I have to “lift” to get back to level – hence a chunk if I fail to lift, or a skull if I do.

    I really don’t want to have a different swing with my chipping motion than my regular swing. I DO notice that when my club goes left my strikes are better. This is very interesting and I would like to hear more about going left after impact. Can you elaborate on what causes the club to do that?

    • Jeremy Anderson

      Jun 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Your strikes are better when the club swings left because the club is swinging down using the bounce of the golf club and your chest. The club face is stable (not rotating closed) and when you use the bounce the leading edge of the club doesn’t dig. If you’d like to chat more message me through my website jjagolf.com

  2. Jeff K

    Jun 2, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I too am prone to chunked, skulled and especially double hit chips. Even shanked 2 pitches last week. And one distance out of bunkers fit too! Yet I can have streaks of decent chipping but even then long runners tend to hook.

    I find the more I “hinge” my wrists on the backswing,the worse it gets. I’m trying the Stricker style dead arm chips with varied success. What should I do with my wrists – hinge and hold, or just focus on what the clubhead is doing? Same with body turn – turn back and through, or just swing down and left with the arms? Thanks!!

    • Jeremy Anderson

      Jun 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Try using less hinge if that helps, but swing the club more outside to gain that as a steep angle. If you don’t hinge and you swing inside… problems will only mount. If you’d like to chat more message me through my website jjagolf.com

  3. Larry

    May 31, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I find what I watched John Daly doing about 20 years ago to work just fine. I watched Daly pitching shot after shot on prctice green next to the hole by pulling the club inside and comming back on the same line…it works perfect to this day. (Daly does not do this anymore, same as his drive went from a killer draw to fade).

    • Jeremy Anderson

      Jun 5, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      John is or maybe was what I call a .1%er. Meaning he’s in the .1% of the people that get away with anything their so gifted.

  4. Brad Zimmer

    May 30, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Thanks for the insight. I’m a low handicapper (2), and as part of becoming one, I worked for years groove a down the line to inside out path in my full swing. Occasionally I go to far with it and get trapped inside, or get flat with my overall arc and have to refocus on taking the club away either straight back or slightly outside the line. To the short game, before I made the wholesale changes in swing path, I never worried about contact on chips and pitches. These days I use course management to stay out of the tricky ranges (if I can’t easily get pin high in two on a par five,I won’t hit a layup within 90 yards.) In order to make solid contact, I find I have to stand open to the target line (foot line pointing left) and almost feel as though I’m opening the club through impact. For some reason, I fond that moving the ball slight forward helps as well, but it’s quite a “rig.” The flaw in my pitching/chipping motion may be subtle, but I think you’ve hit on it, and your piece has been very helpful. Thanks.

    • Jeremy Anderson

      May 30, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Brad,

      I’m glad you find the article helpful. As far as getting your feet left of target it’s good to drop the left foot back but it’s important that you keep your right foot perpendicular to your target line. As far as finding it helpful to play the ball forward —- think of your body as the protractor and the clubhead is the pencil as the ball moves forward in your stance the club wants to arc left. All great things! Message me if you have anymore questions or comments.

      JA

  5. Dave

    May 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    You have perfectly described my pitching. Yips, double hits, skulls, and fat chugged shots. My good shots are rare. I am turning pars and bogeys into doubles, triples , and worse. If I miss the green, I’m dead. So I am really interested in getting this fixed. How do I make this change? Align left? Path on backswing outside going back? I really need a full makeover. Please help!!

    • Jeremy Anderson

      May 30, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Yes, you need to change the direction of your golf swing. Your angle of attack into ball is too shallow and you try to balance it with the steep angle being a closed club face. Read what I wrote for Todd.

      All my best,

      JA

  6. Owen

    May 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    So, how would you compare the original photo to a person who is trying to hit a chip shot? David Leadbetter often talked in his early videos (like early 90’s, so things have changed) about how a chip shot has a closed face going back, and utilizes a lot of turn. I know there’s huge differences between chips and pitches. Lately I’ve been chunking some chips, and I wonder if it’s because I’m combining chip and pitch motion- going back closed and turning, but then letting my wrist break like a pitch at impact.

    • Jeremy Anderson

      May 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Without seeing your action… I would say you chunk your chips because you swing the golf club back too shallow (low to the ground. I see this often where the club goes back too low and bottoms out too early. The golf club must strike down on the ball if it is sitting on the ground and for the club to swing down it must first be up. As far as the Leadbetter technique you speak of I’m not so sure that I would hood/close the face during a pitch shot unless I were trying to use a lot of loft and put hook spin on the chip. Sounds like a disaster for the average golfer. If you would like to talk more send me an email through my website JJAgolf.com

      Regards,

      JA

  7. Todd

    May 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Wow the symptoms you describe are exactly what I am experiencing this year, I mean all of them. Anymore information you could provide would be great. Things like weight, body turn vs arms, wrist c*ck etc or am I complicating things. I will definitely try the steeper, outside path, swing left

    What possibly could go wrong 🙂

    Thanks

    • Jeremy Anderson

      May 29, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Try getting your weight mostly on your lead heel (75% +/-) and get your hands in front of the middle of your lead leg (It will probably feel like the hands and ball are awkwardly forward). Play the ball more forward in your stance… almost driver position but with a narrow stance. Hinge your right elbow to get the club up in the air quicker and just concentrate on the golf club swinging down and left into the ball. Keep me posted on your results! If you would like to talk more send me an email through my website JJAgolf.com

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