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The keys to pitching it tight

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My members at Naples National Golf Club experience a lot of difficult pitch shots from all sorts of different lies. I always tell them: “If you have a great setup and maintain a simple technique, you can really save shots around the greens.”

Here are my keys when helping my students improve their pitching efficiency.

Technique

Every pitch shot that we hit around the greens uses the same technique. Our setup is what changes our shot selection.

The keys I emphasize with my students of all levels are the following

All pitch shots

  1. Narrow stance
  2. Straighten the back leg and flex the front, then mirror the image in the finish position (see photo)
  3. Arm length remains straight throughout the pitch, “hands and wrists are along for the ride”
  4. The loft of the golf club never changes from address to finish
  5. Back heel comes off the ground in your finish position

Club selection

First, start by deciding which club you’d like to use. Golfers of all abilities vary from using 7-irons up to 60-degree wedges, and it really depends on the course conditions that you normally play. Here at our club, firm and fast conditions lead me to grabbing my 60-degree Titleist Vokey the most, but my 48 and 52-degree wedges get selected as venues change, green speeds get slower, and/or turf conditions soften.

Shot selection

Once we’ve determined our club, we need to decide on the trajectory of your pitch. I suggest as a good start is having two “go-to” shots around the greens. The first is a lower running-shot with less carry and more roll. Here I’ve selected my 52-degree wedge but have made these key setup adjustments to create the low flight and low spin required to knock it close.

Low pitch shot keys

  1. Shaft leaned slightly forward
  2. Ball position on the inside of your trail foot
  3. Face closed to decrease loft and backspin

If the pitch shot required calls for more spin, then make these adjustments to your setup to create a shot that generates higher trajectory and an increase in spin. In this case, I’ve grabbed my 60-degree wedge to use the loft to stop the ball quickly.

High pitch shot keys

  1. Shaft angle straight
  2. Ball forward in the stance (driver ball position)
  3. Face wide open to use the loft to create a higher trajectory

One thing I stress to my students is to not worry some much about clubhead speed around the greens to create spin. The focus should be on a consistent setup and solid contact which will create reliable spin and trajectory on your short game shots. Having a tempo and rhythm that is similar in speed on the backswing and downswing (i.e. Steve Stricker, Luke Donald, Jason Day) is where you’ll start to get the flight and spin you’re looking for and seeing your scores drop.

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Jake is the Head Golf Professional at Naples National Golf Club in Naples, FL. He is a Pittsburgh native and Professional Golf Management major from Methodist University and former Golfstat #1 ranked Division III player in the country. Jake has worked at Riviera Country Club, Augusta National for the Masters Tournament, Myopia Hunt Club, Calusa Pines, Sankaty Head, Muirfield Village and Seminole Golf Club among others in his young career. Jake has a deep passion for improving his students' games as well as developing his Assistant Professionals into future Head Golf Professionals. Jake credits his teaching philosophy to his mentors: Bill Davis, Bob Ford, Andrew Rice, Claude Harmon III, and Greg LaBelle.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Acemandrake

    Jun 29, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Good info. Just have to practice 🙂

    A wider stance helps when hitting a high pitch shot.

  2. Joe

    Jun 28, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Jake is a terrific teacher. He really sees what is not working and will stick with you in a session to find answers for your problem. I am working on my chipping and making progress.

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