Perfect your Pitching
Today we will look at brushing up on your pitching technique. I like to refer to my wedges as my scoring clubs because when your long game is a little ragged, good pitching can help you scramble a score and be in contention. A good pitching technique will help you control the distance the ball flies and therefore give you more chances to “up and down”. The key to good pitching is to use your shoulders and chest to control the movement rather than your hands and arms producing a more solid movement. Excess hand action will cause you to miss hit and scoop the ball making it difficult to control distance.
Address the ball with your feet reasonably close together, the ball positioned in the centre of your stance and your hands opposite the inside of your left thigh. Your weight should favour the left side about 60:40 and your grip pressure should be light. Now swing your shoulders and chest back and through equal distance ensuring that your weight remains on your left side and your grip pressure does not increase (pics.1 & 2). The most common fault I see is when a player makes a backswing that is slightly too short and then has to whip the hands through to try and reach the desired distance. This causes the follow through to be much longer than the backswing and makes it very difficult to control distance (pic3)
Control Your Chips
Today I am going to show you a simple way to control the height of your chip shots without changing your swing. We have all seen Phil Mickelson hit unbelievable lob shots to within inches of the hole from the trickiest of lies. Sadly, even in our wildest dreams we will never have his talent and be able to play these full swing lob shots with any sort of consistency, so lets resort to plan B. I would like you to simply move your ball position forwards or back to control the height of the shot without changing your swing. For each shot your weight will favour the left side with your hands also opposite your left leg. If you want to play a low bump and run shot then you must play the ball very much from the right foot (pic.1), for a straight forward normal chip the ball will be from the centre (pic.2) and if you need to hit the ball high and make it stop quickly the play the ball from your left foot (pic.3). By moving the ball position forwards or back in your stance you are increasing or decreasing the loft on the club and there is no need for heroics by trying to emulate Mickelson because more often than not it will end in tears!
Bump & Run
Now that the season is under way and the ground is starting to firm up, its time to get your 7 iron out and play a good old fashioned bump and run. If you try to play all your chips shots high up in the air then you are asking for trouble and you should only hit it high (lob wedge) when you must. It is much easier to judge both distance and direction when the ball is kept low to the ground.
In today’s pictures I am being traditional and using a 7 iron although you can use almost any club in your bag, the ball will simply bump more or run more depending on your choice. Your feet should be quite close together with the ball towards your right foot and your weight favouring your left side (pic.1). With a very light grip you should now rock your shoulders back and through keeping both sides of your swing equidistant (pics.2&3). The length of your swing and NOT by how hard you hit will determine how far the ball travels. Give it a go and you should be pleasantly surprised.