Learning How to Hit a Standard Pitch Shot in Golf

By Jim McLean

Pitching Basics

This is usually where we have a sand wedge, we are well off the green, this particular shot I have here I have to carry, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight yards of regular grass until I get to the green and then I have the green sloping away from me right here. Pretty tough shot. I need to pitch this ball with a sand wedge, a 56, 58 degree sand wedge, maybe even a 60 degree sand wedge for this shot right here. Pitching the golf ball is critical to scoring and you are going to have a lot of pitches. We want to get a simple, basic pitch shot that you can play all the time.

Setting Up for a Pitch Shot

The way we teach it at our schools is from a narrow stance, the weight is a little bit left, you might grip down slightly on the club. The more you grip down the harder you can swing and the shorter the shot can go, that sometimes is very important when you are trying to get the ball up high and stop the ball fast. We are not going to go with a big lob shot here but a regular pitch shot, it will still have some stop, it will get up in the air and come down soft with a little bit of spin on it, and won't go to far when it hits the ground hopefully. When you go back you are going to set the club and get the club up and also get the clubface slightly open. It can not go back closed like this. I would say that is something I see in a lot of players. They take the club back hooded and they try to add loft by lifting with their body or they hit way too low and hard a shot. Get the clubface open, cock the wrists going back, set the wrists.

Take the Shot

  1. Number one, set the wrists.
  2. Number two, you are going to allow the club to drop in conjunction with a turn to the target.
  3. So set the club, drop and turn.
  4. Then the fourth thing, we count those as three, set, drop and turn, we are going to resist and hold. We are not going to go short backswing to long finish, way too hard. I have worked with the greatest pitchers in the history of golf, Ken Venturi probably being as good as there has ever been, Claude Harmon, great pitchers and they really believed in some resistance right here. That really pulls that golf ball up the clubface, right up those grooves, puts some spin on it. That is not to say we are not going to do some longer and softer lob shots, but they are much tougher to control.
  5. So when you pitch the golf ball, set up good, feet very close together, that encourages a narrow backswing, we don't want any wide takeaways. We are going to set the club here, drop it as we turn, definitely a turn, and then hold. It looks like this.

That is how you hit the standard pitch shot around the greens. Once you get that standard pitch shot then we can start to do other things like opening the clubface, putting our hands further back and more advanced types of shots, but get real good at the basics.

About the Instructor

Jim McLean
Jim McLean
Jim McLean Golf School
Doral Golf Resort and Spa
4400 NW 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178
Tel: 800-72-DORAL