At all levels of golf, professional or keen amateur, you will find a need to master the short golf pitch shot, because you are almost guaranteed to be faced with plenty of them to play! If you have obstacles such as water hazards or bunkers between your ball and the green, with a distance of 40-75 yards from the flag, then you will need to take an aerial approach, and this is when the golf short pitch shot will come into its’ own. I am not talking about a full-length pitch or wedge shot here, but more where a three-quarter or half swing would be required. Full shots allow you to make the same full swing as for your other irons, but the short pitch shot requires a more delicate execution, which is why it is statistically more challenging.
The idea is to clear an obstacle in front of you and then land on the green. You are looking for the shot to cover the majority of the distance; leaving the club in the air, landing softly and finishing as close to the target landing point as possible – hopefully nestling up against the flag!
You will need your Pitching, Sand or Lob Wedge for this task. The nearer to the green you are, the higher the required loft, because it is the height that will determine how softly the ball lands. Of course, the professionals and even some low-handicap golfers will be able to achieve the desired result by using backspin on their pitch shots, even from some shots with quite a low trajectory. They will use this to great effect to get the ball to stop very close to the hole. However, I am looking to play the percentages here, so let’s leave that for another day.
* Visualization is important here. You need to pick a target point on the green where you want your ball to land and try to imagine it rolling out, once it has landed.
* The initial part of the set-up is the same as for a chip, thus… With your chosen club, set up with quite a narrow stance. Position the ball in the middle of your stance and keep most of your weight on your front foot – approximately 60 -70%. This will prevent you from digging into the ground behind the ball, effectively killing the shot, and will allow a nice steep angle of attack onto the back of the ball. Make sure that your hands are in front of the ball.
* Once you have found a comfortable, narrow stance width, pull your leading foot slightly back and open the angle of your front foot to approximately 30-35 degrees. This will open your body up to the target and make it easier to swing your arms through on the target line; allowing you an unrestricted follow-through.
* Keep your elbows anchored to your side as much as possible. As I mentioned before, this will probably feel a little strange at first, but if you practice, it will stop you waving the club around and will make your stroke much more stable and reliable.
* This is an arm swing, and ideally should not be more than a three-quarter swing. That being said, on the takeaway, your weight should remain mostly over your front foot, and your leading arm should not come up further than level with shoulder height.
* Make sure that you hit down onto the ball, but keep your follow through low and this will throw the ball into the air. Once again, make sure that you keep your eye on the ball and don’t raise your head until the end of your follow-through.
If you follow these tips and practice often, you should hopefully be in for a lot of short putts, when you reach the green!
Peter Burgess is a keen, regular club golfer, who has played and studied the game for over 25 years. Peter has improved steadily with much practice and would like to share the tips that have worked for him. Read more great Golf Tips.