by Derek Hooper
Driving the ball well is important for low scoring, but long drives are of little use if you take a further three shots to hit the green. Spend some time practicing your pitching and eliminate those errant approach shots.
When practicing pitch shots, the first thing to do is set up an effective practice station where you have targets of known distances. The distances you want to practice are those in what we call the “scoring zone,” or less than 100 meters. This is the area where you can really make some big improvements.
The pitching swing is predominantly an arm swing. The feet are set relatively close together with the ball positioned in the middle of the stance. During the takeaway, the upper body rotation works the club away from the ball with the wrists hinging to move the club up in front of the body. There is very little weight transfer with this action.
Too often players will roll the wrists to move the club into the takeaway for a pitch shot. This allows the club to get too far behind the body on a flat swing plane and results in a downswing that is too flat, causing the club to hit the ground behind the ball.
A correct attack angle will allow you to pinch or squeeze the golf ball into the turf with the club head. This will cause a clean contact with the divot created in front of the ball. The contact is with the ball, and not the ground, ensuring you achieve maximum spin and control over the shot.
So when you are practicing your pitching, watch your divots and, if they are behind the ball, first check your ball position as well as the wrist action during the back swing.
Derek Hooper is Director of Instruction at the David Duval Golf Academy at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort in Miyazaki.