Help for Pitches

Rolf-Demingby Rolf Deming – Head Teaching Pro
Arnold Palmer Golf Academy at Saddlebrook Resort

One of the most distressing experiences in golf is to make poor contact with a short pitch shot. Whether a chunk shot that barely advances the ball or a skull sending the ball scooting across the green, the result seems to be a totally wasted stroke attempting what should be an easy shot.

The formula that I prescribe for solid contact on pitches is quite simple; (1) Keep the center of your swing steady. (2) Brush the ground with your wedge, and (3) Position the ball properly.

(1) STAY CENTERED. The secret of doing this, as with so many things in golf, is in the starting position. The feet are placed comfortably far apart, as you would a putt. The body is leaned forward (toward the target), so most of the weight is on the front foot and the club is leaning a bit toward the target. The front foot is pulled away from the target line by about an inch, a slightly open stance. As the swing is taken, maintain the same weight distribution throughout the entire swing, start, top, and finish.

(2) BRUSH THE GROUND. Note, BRUSH the ground rather than HIT the ground. Hitting something implies a rather violent movement, with the hit being applied perpendicular to the surface to be struck. The golf swing is a smooth, graceful movement with the club moving parallel to the ground throughout the contact period.

(3) POSITION THE BALL. I don’t see how one could argue against the concept that the best position for the ball is the point where the natural swing first begins to brush the ground. I do not believe there exists one generic point for everyone; this point will vary a bit with each individual and, in my experience, I have found that each individual will reference their point differently. Two people may have about the same ideal point, yet one will perceive it as off the left heel, another sees it as off the inside of the right foot. What is relevant is not how you reference this position; it is that the ball winds up there.

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