I am always having golfers ask me how to hit pesky 30-70 yard shots so here is your weekly golf tip. The basic pitch shot is a miniature golf swing. The set up is slightly different in that your feet are slightly open to your target and your hips and shoulders remain square to your target. The ball is played in the middle of your stance with a slight knee bend.
Once you have the set up you want to keep the lower body (legs and feet) quiet on your back swing and swing the arms and upper body together, keeping the club on the correct plane. If you keep a light grip the club will have a better chance to hinge naturally on your backswing, preventing the golf club from going behind your body. Here’s a good checkpoint: as you swing the club half way back, the grip end of the club should be pointing to the ground with your lead arm forming an L with the shaft. A good visual image is to feel like you are getting your stomach in motion. This will allow you to turn away from the ball and then turn towards the target on the follow through.
There are two ways to control distance on these pitch shots. You can grip down on the golf club and/or you can shorten your backswing. As you grip down on the club also narrow your stance a little and move the ball a little back in your stance. Another good way to control distance is to think in terms of matching numbers on a clock – swing back to 9:00 and through to 3:00 and see how far you hit it. Practice different distances using different times on the clock to dial in yardages.
You can also work on different trajectories on pitch shots. To hit a lower shot, move the ball back in your stance and keep your weight on your front foot. To play a higher shot move the ball forward in your stance and your weight will be more evenly distributed on your feet.
As always, you never want to try a shot on the golf course until you have practiced it. Practicing this pitch shot will help your tempo with full shots.