Backswing RoundUp

Top Ways to Improve Your Pitching Around the Greens

Top Ways to Improve Your Pitching Around the Greens
When you're faced with a tricky shot that you MUST get in the air to avoid trouble, most golfers get nervous and either send the shot over the green or leave it two feet in front of them. Here is some advice from our professionals on how to improve your pitching around the greens.

15 Professionals Contributed

...make sure ball position is more forward, weight not too far forward and the club face too shut.

Not enough height while pitching around the green is not something you encounter that often from a player with a good setup. I will always start with that make sure ball position is more forward, weight not too far forward and the club face too shut. If all that looks good then I use a right arm only drill to feel the right side of the body and club face work properly.

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Nick Duffy Golf

"...make sure ball position is more forward, weight not too far forward and the club face too shut." Click to Tweet

Of the 3 basic short game shots, putting, chipping/bump&run and pitching the pitching motion has the most moving parts

This is a good question. Of the 3 basic short game shots, putting, chipping/bump&run and pitching the pitching motion has the most moving parts and for most people is the most difficult to learn.

Everyone Teaches a little differently, but for me I normally teach a lot of chest rotation on the forward swing, very similar to how you would turn your chest to toss a soft ball underhanded from your golf posture.

For chipping/bump&run I teach a more linear concept. Stance is very square, weight on front side, ball positioned off of back foot, club works almost straight back and straight through with very little to no wrist hinge or club face rotation. The results are very positive and the students do not have much difficulty achieving this move.

What I have done through the years for people that can not pitch the ball in the traditional manner is to modify the chipping motion. We stick with the feeling of straight back straight through but we move the ball position from back in the stance to more forward, we use more loft (SW or LW vs/ 8 or 9 iron) and we incorporate some wrist hinge.

It is not a full proof system, the ball doesn’t come out as high as traditional pitch shot and the leading edge is more exposed, which can lead to digging, but the students that I have done this with feel much more confident in this approach versus struggling with trying to learn it the traditional way.

Flagler Golf Academy

"Of the 3 basic short game shots, putting, chipping/bump&run and pitching the pitching motion has the most moving parts" Click to Tweet

Most pitching issues are caused by one of two issues:

Take a series of 3lessons just on pitching the ball. Most pitching issues are caused by one of two issues 1) a break down of the hand and wrist action at impact, that does not allow you to hold the club face square and with its true loft. Many people call this hold the club open at impact. 2) Body movement either up or down with create very inconsistent pitching, with both fat and thin shots.

KPI Golf Management

"Most pitching issues are caused by one of two issues:" Click to Tweet

Start simple by removing the right hand entirely off the grip, using only your left hand.

Most players are trying to lift the ball in to the air. This causes a right hand player to scoop and flick the club upward with their right hand. Start simple by removing the right hand entirely off the grip, using only your left hand. Ford press the butt of the grip to be positioned ahead of the ball at address. Now have them brush the grass as they stroke( no digging ) Let them learn that the loft of the club will get the ball airborne.

"Start simple by removing the right hand entirely off the grip, using only your left hand." Click to Tweet

In order to develop a reliable short game, golfers usually need to be exposed to a whole set of terms and vocabulary.

We have all heard of the dreaded yips in putting, sadly too many recreational golfers deal with the pitching and chipping yips as well. My first reaction would be to tell any golfer who struggles in this area to seek out a reputable teacher who is known for having a great knowledge of the short game. In order to develop a reliable short game, golfers usually need to be exposed to a whole set of terms and vocabulary.

I have found that struggles in golf, like in the short game are not due to a lack of talent but a lack of understanding. 90% of the time this lack of understanding comes from old, incorrect cliches and a overwhelming amount of incorrect concepts. For example, 9 out of 10 golfers who do not pitch the ball well and continually experience going back and forth between thin and fat shots have been told to accelerate thru the ball. To me this is not the problem at all, in fact it is just the opposite. Way too many golfers on a pitch around the green do not take the club back far enough thus not creating enough force or time for the club to develop a smooth transition and a nice flow. This golfer who has been told to “accelerate” thru the ball almost always will have a quick, hurried and steep approach into the ball causing all sorts of problems. Also 80-90% of golfers do not know what the bounce is. They have been told to play the ball back and lean the shaft forward.

This is a recipe for disaster as the leading edge will dig which causes the fat shot. Now you can see the dilemma that arises. Since they tend to hit it fat they are told they are not accelerating thru the ball so their backswings get shorter and the downswing gets faster and because the bounce is not exposed the club digs. You cannot hit a pitch properly or consistently using the leading edge.

I was fortunate to spend a fair amount of time with Mac O’Grady. We worked solely on the full swing but Mac shared with me some notes on the short game that he learned from the great Seve Ballesteros. Tiger has often said that a lot of his short game knowledge came from Seve. The first thing Seve told Mac was everything in the short game is rhythm and slow movements, there should be no conscious acceleration. Bottom line for most golfers who struggle is work on taking the club “wedge” back far enough so you won’t have to jerk the club down and create artificial speed.

"In order to develop a reliable short game, golfers usually need to be exposed to a whole set of terms and vocabulary." Click to Tweet

For the ball to go up, something else must come down; the club.

Golf is a counter intuitive game. For the ball to go up, something else must come down; the club. Downward movement of the club allows the club to make contact below the mid-point of the ball, creating lift. To insure you’re in the correct position to make this happen, be sure the ball is in the middle of your stance, have your weight favoring the front side of your stance, and shorten the length of the club by positioning your hands slightly down the handle. Now, place a tee in front of the ball. Set up as described, attempt to strike the tee out of the ground. Doing so will create a downward motion of the club, impacting the ball below it’s equator, and creating a ball flight that no longer runs along the ground.

John Hughes Golf

"For the ball to go up, something else must come down; the club." @johnhughesgolf Click to Tweet

Rule of thumb when around the green:

Rule of thumb when around the green is if you can putt, then putt, if not, then chip, if you can’t chip, then pitch, if you can’t pitch then hit a flop shot provided the lie will let you.

But if you can’t pitch then by all means take a lesson or two and learn how to.

"Rule of thumb when around the green:" Click to Tweet

When around the green I like to follow a simple 3 question approach

When around the green I like to follow a simple 3 question approach.

Question 1) Can I putt it? (A poor putt will always turn out better than a poor chip)

Question 2) If I can’t putt, how low can I keep the ball and have the results still turn out for the better? (If you are too far away from the green, but have no obstructions in your way ie. rough or bunkers, what club will allow the shot to carry just onto the green and start rolling like a putt as soon as it can?)

Question 3) If you’ve made it to question 3, then you want to play the shot that will avoid the big numbers. You may sometimes hear people call this play as “taking their medicine”. This is a shot where you may have a bad lie in the rough, or you’ve short sided yourself over a bunker and you just want get the ball back in position. Last thing you want is to have the same shot or even a more difficult shot, so your play is to make sure that you get out of your current situation and put yourself in a position that gives you a chance to make a putt or again, avoid the big number. I’d rather have a 30 footer for par than a fried egg in a bunker.

PGA Golf Professional

"When around the green I like to follow a simple 3 question approach" @RobKrajewski Click to Tweet

They should practice standing on the sides of the greens and tossing a golf ball underhanded and setting a target for where they want it to land.

They should practice standing on the sides of the greens and tossing a golf ball underhanded and setting a target for where they want it to land. They should improve their throws to the point where they are getting the ball close to hole by throwing it. Then they should attempt to hit golf shots where the golf club sends the ball in the air by primarily moving their chest in a rotating manner, keeping their lower body very still and making sure the club grazes the ground for four inches with a slightly downward blow near the ball.

Executive Director Brooklyn Golf Alliance

"They should practice standing on the sides of the greens and tossing a golf ball underhanded and setting a target for where they want it to land." Click to Tweet

Players that can't get the ball airborne are usually trying to do all the work themselves and not using the loft of the club properly

Sounds like it’s time for a lesson. Players that can’t get the ball airborne are usually trying to do all the work themselves and not using the loft of the club properly – trying to lift the golf ball instead of striking it. A lesson on set up and descending attack angle into the back of the ball will do the trick.

Arsenal Island Golf Course

"Players that can't get the ball airborne are usually trying to do all the work themselves and not using the loft of the club properly" Click to Tweet

If that individual enjoys the game, he or she should contact a qualified PGA Professional or certified golf instructor

The solution is simple. If that individual enjoys the game, he or she should contact a qualified PGA Professional or certified golf instructor and invest an hour developing basic fundamentals of the short game. A good instructor will head them in the right direction, and with some practice, anyone can build a solid short game.
Personally, I can not accept someone saying they can’t do anything, especially something as simple as pitching a ball onto a green.
We work with persons with both physical and mental disabilities, and they are able to meet the challenges around the green just fine.
I do not accept fees from my students unless they walk away with confidence in their swing, method, and ability to manage around the green. Our goal is shared by all qualified and committed teachers of the game. We strive to make the short game a solid and satisfying part of golf.

Olde School Golf School

"If that individual enjoys the game, he or she should contact a qualified PGA Professional or certified golf instructor" Click to Tweet

They need to come take a lesson from a PGA or LPGA Golf Professional.

That could be the easiest answer ever! They need to come take a lesson from a PGA or LPGA Golf Professional. If you’re not sure who to see for the lesson ask around a couple of your friends you know that take lessons. Ask them specific to who is a really good chipping and pitching instructor. Don’t go to the internet as there are too many different methods. Have someone trained with experience as what you think you are doing and what you are really doing could be opposite.

"They need to come take a lesson from a PGA or LPGA Golf Professional." Click to Tweet

Create a lower case “y” with the arms and golf club at address

Create a lower case “y” with the arms and golf club at address. Maintain the “y” throughout the swing, not allowing the head of the club to beat the hands to the ball. This promotes a downward strike on the golf ball promoting the ball to get up in the air.

"Create a lower case “y” with the arms and golf club at address" Click to Tweet

Try chipping the ball. Your worst chip tends to be better than your worst pitch.

If a golfer is struggling with a pitch shot when playing I suggest they don’t pitch. Try chipping the ball. Your worst chip tends to be better than your worst pitch. Use a less lofted club and try to roll the ball on to the green. It’s not sexy and the player may not hit it very close, but at least they are putting.

Sleepy Hollow Country Club

"Try chipping the ball. Your worst chip tends to be better than your worst pitch." @KevinSprecher Click to Tweet

Nothing wrong with using the "Texas Wedge"

Putt it. Nothing wrong with using the “Texas Wedge” if you don’t have the skillset or the confidence to get the ball airborne around the greens.

Take a lesson from your local PGA Professional to learn how to pitch the ball so you can add that dimension to your game.

"Nothing wrong with using the "Texas Wedge"" Click to Tweet

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