When golfers think of a pitch shot, they think of a short game shot that needs a combination of distance control and length. Unlike a short chip shot, a pitch shot forces players to hit a specific spot on the green that allows for a forward roll to be successful.
Pitch shots can also demand a delicate touch in certain situations for most golfers, but mastering them is essential to posting lower scores.
In this guide on how to hit pitch shots, we’ll provide several tips on creating the right skill set to hitting crisp pitches that nestle close to the pin with regularity.
Finding the Right Stance, Swing, & Club
Let’s quickly break down the stance, swing, and why club choice is essential to preventing poor contact when pitching around the green.
Remember, these strikes need distance and roll, so we want to set our lower body and left side in a way that promotes low height and minimal spin. You should open your left side slightly, allowing the club to sit in an open position. Your feet should be tight with the ball placed in the middle.
You aren’t digging your feet into the ground either, but rather it’s best to stay loose and light when pitching balls toward the pin.
To start, this doesn’t call for a full swing. Pitching golf balls requires speed control and touch, something that takes practice and time to work on these specific elements of the golf game.
As you start the backswing, you want to keep the face open. By hinging your wrists quickly, you help ensure the hitting area isn’t closed. Also, you aren’t turning your body away from the target with this type of swing.
But as you move the golf club forward to hit the ball, you are accelerating the club, utilizing the bounce of the sole of the face to reach the ball’s outer layer first before entering the ground. The body does turn to help the length of the club as it passes through the impact point.
If you are looking to fine tune your takeaway game and downswing, imagine you are a clock at address, and you want to make your backswing and follow-through the same height.
For example, if you take the club back to hip level, you want to finish the follow-through at the opposite hip. Essentially, you are making a straight line that works as a guide for finding the right speed and distance for your strike.
While this advice may seem vague and rather obvious, it remains crucial to choose the club that produces the type of shape you need to pull off the pitch shot you want.
Remember, the higher the loft, the more pitching the ball will lift after impact.
Clubs like a sand wedge and lob wedge can cause you to hit the ball thin or pop up the shortest shots possible if you aren’t using the proper stance and swing path.
Pitching the ball works best with clubs that offer mid-bounce. The mid-bounce setting provides the most influence, allowing you to dial in the length and speed each time you hit the ground after contact.
While it may seem obvious, you must work in plays from differing lengths during practice time. You really need a practice facility that offers distances of varying lengths to work on your control.
Take time during practice to hit from 20, 30, and 40 yards, focusing on the length of the carry while feeling the strength needed to hit the distance necessary for your ideal landing spot.
While most amateurs want to spend their time at the range bombing full swing shots, set aside 15-30 minutes each session to work on pitching the ball.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you hit a perfect pitch shot?
A perfect pitch shot should result in an easy putt to save par or even make a birdie on a long par 5.
Too many amateur golfers believe a perfect shot results in the ball dropping into the cup, but that way of thinking causes too many mistakes in the short game as players become too aggressive.
Playing safe in relation to short game shots is the best way to go when looking to shoot lower scores.
How do you play pitch shots?
When pitching, you want to address the golf ball with your weight on your front side, left arm and hands in front of the ball with the club shaft angled down to the ball.
On the back swing, you should have a wrist hinge that keeps the club moving on a steep angle to the ball.
With this approach, the pitches will come out lower to the ground with a forward roll, allowing you plenty of control on how you play these short golf shots.
Should you hit down on pitch shots?
Yes, your swing on a pitch shot should have a more downward angle of attack. In contrast to popping a flop shot with a lob wedge where you are sweeping the ball, these alternative strikes demand solid contact and a predetermined landing spot.
You aren’t looking to take a huge divot, but expect the club to enter the soil after contact.
How do you hit a 30-yard pitch shot?
As with any shot, you need to look ahead at the terrain in front of you. For example, a 30-yard shot with a bunker between you and the pin needs to be played differently than when you are facing a long green.
Since we are using a lower loft club on these strikes, we first need to read the green to anticipate the speed needed on the strike.
With your weight forward on your front foot and your hands and club shaft ahead of the golf ball, a crisp pitch shot keeps the ball lower with a minimal bounce to get the roll needed for more control over the hit.