We all know that short game is important if we want to succeed at golf, but not many players focus on their pitching enough! Golf pitching is an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice to improve at but is one of the most critical skills if you want to score well!
Below you will find golf pitching tips that you can use to improve your short game.
I’ve also linked to a golf practice plan that hundreds of our readers have used to successfully building their pitching skills and lower their golf scores. See it at the end of the article.
Golf Pitching Tips for Better Short Game Play
Feet slightly open in relation to the target
Setup is very important with any golf shot, and it is no different when hitting a pitch shot.
A slight open stance is best when pitching, standing slightly open will promote a swing path that is a touch out to in.
Having an out to in swing path will allow the club to cut across the ball, resulting in backspin and pitches that come to a quick stop once the ball hits the green.
Hinge wrist on the backswing, hold off clubface on downswing
During the full swing a wrist hinge occurs in the backswing, during the downswing the club releases through impact.
With pitching the backswing remains the same, but the downswing technique is slightly different. In order to get height and spin it is important to hold off the clubface during impact.
Holding off the clubface will maintain loft on the club, and the absence of releasing the club will ensure backspin on the ball.
Holding off the club might also feel like you are holding the clubface open, every player is different and will find a feeling that works best for them.
This might sound complicated but once you try it during practice it will feel a lot easier to do on a consistent basis.
Accelerate Through Impact
Good smooth rhythm is extremely important for consistent pitching. Distance control is a big component of pitching and thus solid impact is key.
There are different factors that contribute to a solid strike, but the most important factor is acceleration through the hitting area.
If you don’t get that crisp strike when hitting a pitch shot, make sure your club is accelerating smoothly through impact.
Distance Control Clock
Distance control is the most important aspect of pitching. When a player hits a full shot they have a good idea of how far they can fly the ball through the air, but with pitching you aren’t taking a full swing.
With that being said the easiest way to determine how far the ball goes when you swing a certain way is to practice the clock method.
A longer backswing will result to more distance and vice versa. In order to have different shots for different distances first find out how far a full shot with your lob wedge goes.
If a full shot flies 70 yards then you will need to be able to hit a pitch that goes either 40,50 or 60 yards. Imagine the image of a clock with you as the golfer in the middle of the clock.
On average a full swing will be a 12 o’clock swing, if you swing to 11 o’clock the ball will travel a bit shorter, and this will be the same for 10 and 9 o’clock.
9 o’clock will normally be the shortest pitch shot backswing that you will want to take, don’t make your backswing too short, if you do it will start to throw off rhythm.
The importance of a good shoulder turn
Good technique is very important for hitting consistent pitch shots. The key component that brings it all together along with a good setup and smooth rhythm is the use of your shoulders.
A good shoulder turn will assist with getting all the other components such as the hinge and hold off to fall into place.
Using your shoulders will also assist with good rhythm, which is required for a consistent strike. Always remember use your shoulders to move the club, not your arms.
Keep these 5 tips in mind the next time you go and work on your pitching, it will definitely save you a couple of shots per round and change your whole game in the process.
- Feet slightly open in relation to the target
- Hinge wrist on the backswing, hold off clubface on downswing
- Accelerate through impact
- Distance control clock
- The importance of a good shoulder turn
Golf Pitching Tips for Beginners
Narrow Stance, Weight Forward
Your stance should be slightly narrower than for a full shot, with more weight on the front foot. This discourages too much weight transfer and creates a slightly more descending blow, with a steeper angle of attack, to put a little more spin on the ball.
Because you’re not making such a big swing, you’re not going to have time to clear the left side out of the way.
To help you get through the shot you need to open up the stance. For half shots, pull the front foot back an inch, and for shorter pitches, take it back by two inches
Proper Grip Control for Pitching
Lacking control over your pitches? Try gripping further down the golf club.
Gripping further down the handle takes some width out of the swing, so you can’t create as much speed, but can gain more control.
Holding the club halfway down the grip might be ideal for a 60 to 80-yard pitch, while you might be almost down to the shaft for those 35 to 50-yarders.
You won’t get as much weight transfer or shoulder turn, either, so swing speed becomes the key to hitting it the right distance.
The further you grip down, the more weight you should place on the front foot – around 60 to 75 per cent, depending on length of shot.
Quitting on Your Pitch Shot
Many golfers quit on their pitch shots. In other words, you make a big back swing but follow it up with too short of a follow through.
In reality, your follow through should be longer than your back swing.
Watch Rory McIlroy make a pitch shot in this video as an example of the proper golf pitching technique.
Rory McIlory pitches with good rhythm and aggression. This is a great image to have in your mind.
If quitting is the biggest problem, then moving too much weight and not keeping still are next.
With pitching, people move the body too much and don’t swing their arms enough. This creates inconsistencies of strike that are actually relatively easy to rectify.
You want your body to rotate but not sway.
Pitch Shots vs Chip Shots in Golf
Let’s talk about distances on the golf course and what is considered a pitch shot vs a chip shot. Important concept, right?
Often times amateur golfers confuse a pitch shot and a chip shot. In simple terms a pitch shot can be described as the shot that falls into the category between a chip shot and a full wedge shot.
In my opinion, a chip shot becomes a pitch at about 35 yards. Around this distance you have to take a reasonable back swing to generate some power to get the ball traveling 25-30 yards in the air.
For women, a chip shot may become a pitch shot at around 25 yards.
Knowing these distances, you can now practice hitting full shots with your different pitching clubs to learn their distances. Once you know the full distance of each pitching club, you can figure out how far a half shot, and 3 quarter shot goes with those clubs.
Golf is a game of math!
Work on Your Pitching Distance Control
Pitch shots have a couple of important key factors, but distance control and good smooth rhythm are the 2 key areas that stand out.
In order to get consistently good at pitching, it is important to spend time at it during practice sessions.
Some of the best pitchers on the PGA Tour have exceptional feel, and the only way to develop that is through practice.
Practice is important, but to practice correctly is more important.
Work on various pitching distance control drills to build your feel with your golf club.