Golf Pitching Tips & Drills Guide
Pitching is a special skill to acquire in your golf game and it will set you apart from the average golfer. You’d be surprised how much better your scores could be and how much easier the game of golf could feel if you became excellent with your pitch shots.
Before you get into our favorite pitching drills to practice and share other golf pitching tips let’s first clarify what pitching is in golf if you’re a beginner and curious.
What is a Pitch Shot in Golf?
Pitch shots are usually longer versions of a chip shot. Most of their journey is through the air rather than on the green.
For example, if you find yourself 30 yards away from the green, a pitch shot is need as the ball travels 30 yards through the air and then rolls maybe another 3-5 yards upon landing.
A chip shot, on the other hand, is when you’re closer to the green and the ball only travels in the air a little while before rolling out most of the way to the hole.
A good rule of thumb to use is to categorize pitch shots as wedge shots that are between 30 and 70 yards from the hole. Thus pitch shots are longer than chip shots, but shorter than a full wedge shot.
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Why You Should Spend More Time on Golf Pitching Practice Drills
Most beginner’s overlook the pitch shot and don’t spend enough time working on different pitching drills during practice. Instead, they spend more time on the driving range working on their long game.
Yes, hitting the golf ball well off the tee and with your longer irons is important, but you already know that most of your scoring comes from your short game ability.
A high percentage of your golf shots will be from within 100 yards and mastering these shorter distance shots can quickly help you lower your handicap to breaking 90, breaking 80, or even scratch golf.
Anytime you miss a green in regulation, being able to rely on your pitching and chipping is such a stress relief.
You’ll be confident you can still save par even if you hit a bad shot with your irons, which helps you hit your irons even better because there is less pressure.
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Golf Pitching Technique & Fundamentals
Now that we have explained why pitching is an important golf skill to develop let’s jump into some tips on how to properly perform the pitch shot technique.
Golf Pitching Technique Explained
On pitch shots, you’re going to start first with the set up, which includes a golf stance that is slightly open to your target at address.
This promotes an outside to inside swing path which helps you generate more spin on your pitch shots to get the ball to stop quicker on the green.
You ever watch the PGA players throw a pitch shot onto the green, hop once, and stop quickly? How sweet of a golf shot would that be to have in your skill set?
In addition to the open stance, you also want your feet about shoulder width apart from each other. You can also keep them narrower than that as the golf shot gets shorter and shorter.
On longer shots the wide stance helps you generate power and distance.
But with pitch shots, it’s a shorter distance to the green, so less power is needed. We are using more arms to control power and need less hips/legs movement in the swing similar to a chip shot where the lower body stays quiet.
Place 55% of your body weight on your front side, which is the left side for right handed players and the vice versa for left handers.
To hit a proper pitch shot, your swing should be smooth. In order to get this smooth motion, the secret is using your shoulders to lead the club back as well as through on the forward swing motion.
Learning how to use your shoulders will promote more consistency in your pitching technique.
Pitch Shot Distance Control
Distance control can be more difficult with pitch shots since you aren’t making a full swing. A lot of pitch shots use half swings and three quarter swings to adjust power with your wedges to suit awkward distances inside 100 yards.
But the more you practice pitching the better your distance control and feel will be. It takes time to develop “feel” with pitching but it can be done!
The best tips are to practice more on the driving range to shorter targets as well as on course practice, dropping extra golf balls while playing a practice round.
The Clock System
The clock system is a great way to learn how to hit pitch shots that travel different distances. Your backswing length will determine how far the golf ball travels so learning the different lengths and how far each goes can help you gain feel for distance control.
Therefore, thing of your backswing like a clock arm.
Having a 9,10 and 11 o’clock pitch shot will allow you to hit 3 different pitch shots that all travel a different distances respectively.
A full wedge shot, for example, might travel 85 yards with your hands getting back to the 1 o’clock position. Having an 11 o’clock pitching position could send the ball 70 yards, a 10 o’clock pitch 50 yards and a 9 o’clock pitch 40 yards.
Having 3 different pitch shot distances will cover most distances between a chip shot and a full wedge shot.
This is the hard part of golf to master. These awkward wedge distances inside 100 yards that fill the gap between chipping and your full wedge swing.
After mastering the different clock positions with one wedge, work on changing trajectory with that wedge hitting lower shots and learn those distances. This will help you on windy days. Then adjust again and hit higher trajectory shots and relearn those distances.
Now you’ll have 9 different distances dialed in 3 for each clock position (9, 10, 11) for each of the 3 trajectories (high, normal, low).
After that, you can start learning a new wedge until you get good with two different wedges. Feeling motivated yet to master your pitch shot and save more pars/birdies?
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Golf Pitching Practice Drills
Alignment Stick – Pitch Shot Technique Drill
Good technique is very important in order to hit consistent well struck pitch shots. A common mistake that a lot of players make when hitting a pitch shot is to have an overactive lower body.
If you watch the PGA Tour players who are the best in the world, you’ll notice when they hit their pitch shots they utilize a good shoulder turn to move the club back and they keep their legs/lower body quiet.
An easy way to practice this feeling of a quiet lower body is to loop an alignment stick through the 3 front belt loops on your shorts or pants.
The goal is the avoid hitting the alignment stick at any point during the shot. This drill will give you the feeling that your shoulders are doing most of the work, and that the club is out in front of your body at all times.
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Target Practice – 40, 50, 60, 70 Yards
After spending time working on technique and feeling your shoulders rock back and forth to move the golf club and adjust power, it’s time to hone in distance control.
This pitching drill is easy to set up on a golf course, but can also be done on the driving range.
To start, you’ll drop 5 golf balls at the four different yardages; 40 yards, 50 yards, 60 yards, and 70 yards. This makes up a total of 20 shots for one set.
Take aim at the real green on the golf course and hit each pitch shot. Once you get up to the green shortly, you’ll want to measure each of the 5 balls and calculate the average distance from the pin. Use this statistic as a starting comparison data point to monitor improvement overtime.
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Start with one batch at a time. This way you’re not mixing up your 40 yard pitches and your 50 yard pitches when you try to measure them on the green later. Instead hit all 40 yard pitches first and go measure and clear them off the green.
Then on the next hole, drop 5 balls at 50 yards and hit those, measure, and move to the next hole. This way you keep it moving if you’ve got groups behind you prohibiting you from sitting on one hole practicing your pitching.
Additionally, you should drop balls at other increments as well like 35, 45, 55 to get some reps in at these distances as well to help you improve your pitching distance control skills.
Read: 5 Best Pitching Tips for Golfers to Learn
Lastly, pay attention to roll out on every pitch shot and you’ll learn how short you need to land the ball on the green to anticipate roll.
When there isn’t much green to work with on a pitch shot due to the angle you’re coming in from, then adjust the trajectory and hit those higher lofted pitch shots you should have practiced on the driving range in addition to your normal pitch shot’s trajectory.
There you have it. Today we covered everything you need to become more successful in the pitching area of your short game skillset.
We reviewed the proper golf pitch shot technique to set up your stance and utilize your shoulders. We also talked about the clock drill to learn distance control from different back swing length positions.
And we also shared the important drill of dropping balls on the real golf course to get real practice in and simulate pitch shots that you’ll face during a round of golf.
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