Of course, only dedicated practice can help you become a better short-game player, but if you master the key elements of pitching and chipping, you'll discover an immediate improvement in your scores.
One element is to address the golf ball with a slightly open stance in relation to your intended target line and position the golf ball off of your front heel. Keep your weight on your heels for balance and your hands even with the ball (no need to forward-press). The takeaway should be in one piece, with the shoulders, arms, hands and clubhead moving together for the first 18 inches of the backswing. Your wrists should hinge soon after this point.
During the downswing, it's essential that you move your back knee toward the front knee as you transfer your weight to the right side (for right-handed golfers). At impact, your weight should be distributed evenly to both sides. The mental image of two cymbals placed on the inside of both knees clanging at the point of contact is one that helps many of my students attain a solid pitch impact position.
Another element to a successful pitch is distance control. The length of the swing determines the distance (longer backswings for longer pitches and shorter backswing for shorter pitches). Avoid making a long backswing for a short pitch, this will cause you to decelerate on the downswing. Instead, take a shot. Many students ask how to spin the golf ball when pitching. As mentioned before, by taking a shorter backswing and then increasing the speed of the trailing hand, along with the movement of the back knee into the shot, more spin will be imparted. A good lie in the fairway will allow for your best chance for spin. With some practice, you'll learn when you can and can't execute this type of shot.
PGA professional Scott Schneider is the V.P. of operations for the Ken Venturi Golf Academy. To find an academy near you, visit_Êwww.gotogolfschool.com.