Better pitching is a matter of perfecting your address positions
Playing well from within 100 yards is a must if you want to score well. Just look at the best players in the world. They all miss the fairway sometimes, but from within 100 yards, there isn’t a player out there who doesn’t expect to knock it close from “a hundie” and in. This is golf’s scoring zone, where the difference between a long birdie putt and a short tap-in can be made up by hitting the right kinds of shots. Yeah, that’s right. You have to know what it takes to not only hit the green from 100 yards, but what kind of shot you need to hit to stick it close. Let’s look at three basic ones: a low pitch, medium pitch and lob shot. You’ll quickly find that hitting these three shots requires different approaches to your setup mechanics. Although subtle, these differences are what you need to know to score.
Hit It Low: Get Square
It doesn’t get anymore straightforward than this. Literally. To hit the ball low with some added roll (typically for shots up a hill or with a back pin location), simply adjust your stance so everything is lined up parallel to the target and stand a little closer to the ball. That means, aim your shoulders about two to three feet left of the target, and aim your feet another foot or so to the left. By staying square, you’re more likely to hit the ball with a square clubface and get the ball airborne on a low trajectory and rolling toward the target. As for club selection, grab your 9-iron or pitching wedge, as opposed to your sand wedge. They have less bounce, making it easier to hit the ball crisp and get it moving with minimal backspin.
Choke up or choke down? Hey, do whatever feels right to you. Just make sure you play the ball back in your stance and get the clubshaft leaning toward the target. Try and keep that lean throughout the whole swing and limit your wrist rotation by holding the face square.
Medium Height: Setup Slightly Open
What’s a medium shot? Medium shots fly high, but also have some release once the ball hits the green. They’re the most all-around shot you can hit, and are great for middle pin positions. To hit them, open up your stance, but keep your clubface square to the target. It’s also a good idea to narrow your stance to help steepen your angle into the ball and avoid hitting the turf behind it. As you can see by the photo, even though I’m geared to hit a soft pitch shot, my back is straight, my chin is away from my chest and my knees are flexed. This goes to show that no matter how small a swing you make, they all require the same athletic position at address. I like to use a sand wedge for my medium shots, but don’t be shy to experiment with a gap or lob wedge as well. They work, too.
Opening your stance can make it tough to find the correct “middle” ball position. The way to find it is to consider the middle of your stance relative to your sternum. Play the ball directly below it, and no matter how far you open your stance, the ball still will be in the middle.