If you are looking to consistently shave a handful of stroke off from your golf game, the fastest and easiest way to do so is obviously by improving your short game. We aren’t talking about massive changes to your short game, but quick small tweaks you can make to consistently get the ball in tighter.
We are often asked about drills and tips that will help to improve golfer’s short game, as most golfers understand that the easiest way to lower a handicap is to improve around the green and find more one-putts in your round.
The first thing we ask anyone that sends us this question is, how often do you practice? Not how often do you plan on practicing or how often do you want to practice, but right now, with your current schedule, how often are you practicing your short game?
There are loads of great instructional videos showing you how to “pitch like the pros”. However, the issue with these videos often is that the instructor is a PGA professional who lives golf, and unless you are practicing 3-4 times per week, it will be tough for you to consistently hit the ball the way they do.
So, what is the most common issue with the weekend golfer’s approach to pitch shots? They are taught to open their body to the target, and swing the ball down and left hard to hit pitch shots. If mastered, this is absolutely the best way to control spin and hit nice shots around the green, but it takes a ton of practice, and, when not a mastered skill, can lead to a ton of really bad shots.
Our Approach to Hitting Accurate Pitch Shots
We will touch on a few keys here, but for the weekend warrior, hitting great pitch shots can be summed up in one sentence: square up to the target and keep the body moving. Pick a shot, commit to it, take several practice swings allowing your lower body to shift and turn as it normally would, then deliver a square club face.
Square the body as you would for a normal shot. Part of the reason golfers get tight and yippy around the green is that we start to get out of form. Unless you are spending a lot of time on the practice green, opening your stance and chest to the target can feel quite alien. We want to be in a nice square stance that allows us to serve a consistent, square club face to the ball.
Let the pivot work naturally. For most club level players, this is the biggest key to hitting accurate pitch shots around the green. We have a tendency to get stiff in the lower body and hips and solely focus on the club. Allow the lower body to rotate and shift as it would for any other shot.
Know your clubs. It doesn’t take a green to know exactly how far you can pitch the ball with the club of your choice. You can hit pitch shots with any club, just about anywhere with enough space to hit the ball 10-30 yards. You don’t have to use a wedge, you can hit a nice pitch shot with just about any club, in fact, I personally use my 8-iron to pitch more than any other club. You should also find that your lower-lofted clubs are considerably more forgiving.
Practice makes perfect. We aren’t talking about spending hours on the practice green here. We are talking about 4-5 practice swings prior to hitting the ball. Don’t hit the ball until the practice swing feels right. Keep in mind we are sweeping the ball here. There is no divot and a much small margin of error. Once you get that perfect practice swing, step up to the ball and repeat it.