How to Pitch it Close Every Time

By Sandy Retsky

You use a pitch shot when your ball lies approximately 10 to 50 yards from the green. You can hit a pitch-and-run shot (less flight, more roll) by using a lower loft club, a lofted pitch shot (more flight, less roll) by using a higher loft club, or any variation in between. There are many ways to pitch. With good technique and touch, you will pitch it close every time.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Check your shot preparation. Walk the shot path. Determine the pitch shot type (pitch-and-run or lofted pitch). A pitch-and-run shot is used when you have an even, mostly level path to the green with no obstacles, or a strong wind. A lofted pitch shot is used when you have an uneven path to the green or obstacle(s).
Determine "the shot path into the hole." Check the landing spot for any slope that might affect the direction of the first bounce. Read the green for distance and direction as you would read a putt (walk up if you must, to eliminate any visual distortions). Determine "the swing for your shot path."
Step 2
Choose your club. You want the club that matches your chosen shot path. Most golfers use one club for a pitch-and-run (try a 7 iron) and another club for a lofted pitch (try a sand wedge). You determine this through practice.
Step 3
Check your physical setup. Stand slightly closer to the ball than a full swing, and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Evenly balanced your weight on your feet. Choke up your hands to the middle of the grip. Your hands should be slightly ahead of the clubhead at setup and impact. Your ball position should be back in your stance (try inside back foot). Position the palm of your back hand and clubface square to the shot path.
Step 4
Check your mental setup. Visualize "the shot path into the hole."
Step 5
Check your swing. A pitch swing is both a shortened, slowed-down full swing and an enhanced chip swing. Adjust the length of your back swing, and follow through to the distance of the shot. Cock (back swing) and release (down swing) your wrists. Swing smoothly and easily.
Step 6
Practice on a driving range. The flight and roll of the ball gives you instant feedback. Make adjustments. Good pitchers have "touch," which is an intimate understanding of the terrain (length of grass, firmness of the green, contour of the green) and the execution of the shot. Practice develops "touch."

Tips & Warnings

Look at your swing on a regular basis. Ask a fellow golfer to take a video from a side view and a back view. Save your video to check for consistency over time.
Because a pitch shot is not a full swing, determining and executing the correct swing length and swing speed is difficult.

About The Author

Sandy Retsky caddied at Baltusrol in Springfield, NJ and owned a software consulting business in New York, NY. He is a partner at Reverie Winery in Napa Valley and Butterfly restaurant in San Francisco. He has been writing for since early 2009.

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