How to hit your pitches close : Master my 4 keys for solid contact, distance control – Brief Article
You may not be the longest or straightest off the tee. Your iron shots may not find the green that often. And you may think these shortcomings are what’s keeping your scores high.
That’s not necessarily the case. True, good players often have solid full swings. But it’s their short shots that allow them to score low. They can make less-than-full swings to produce shots that end up close to the hole every time, setting up those birdies and pars.
Like full shots, partial shots require good technique for successful results. Not only are solid short-game fundamentals essential for lower scores, they’ll also help your overall game, because they apply to your full swing, too. On the following pages, I’ll show you some of the common faults that keep you from realizing your short-game potential–and I’ll show you their fixes.
1. Backswing: Don’t overdo it
Think about it: Let’s say you hit a full pitching wedge 100 yards. But now you’re faced with a shot of about 60 yards. How far would you want to take the club back to hit the shot the correct distance?
About 60 percent. Yet one of the biggest faults in wedge play is taking too big a backswing (opposite page, inset). From this position, you have to slow down your downswing to avoid airmailing the green. Sometimes you’ll do it right. But most likely, you’ll hit it the wrong distance or, worse, hit the shot thin or fat. And when you decelerate through impact, you’ll find yourself in a shortened, unnatural follow-through position (left, inset).
For better results, let the length of the shot determine the size of your backswing–with a matching follow-through (big pictures at left). You’ll be able to maintain a consistent pace and accelerate through impact for solid contact and precise distance control.
2. Clubface: Square for height
Good wedge play requires you to hit the ball into the air and let it land softly on the green. The low, running shot may work in some situations, but the basic pitch is played mostly through the air.
You can’t hit a soft, high shot with a closed clubface, another common pitching fault. A closed face will result in low shots that end up well left of your intended target.
A closed face at impact occurs because the clubface closed at some point earlier in the swing. Check the face when the club is parallel to the ground on the backswing. If it’s pointing down at all, the face is closed (above).
To be square, the toe of the club needs to point directly toward the sky (left). Get your club in this position for better control of your pitches.
3. Ball position: Find your center
Because of its shorter length and up-right lie angle, a wedge approaches the ball at a steeper angle than other clubs. This gives you a smaller margin for error when it comes to solid contact and makes ball position a crucial component of good wedge play.
The most common impact fault can happen two ways: You have either your weight too far back or the ball too far forward. In both cases, your swing bottoms out behind the ball. If it’s steep, you hit the ground. If you miss the ground, the club’s leading edge hits the ball on the upswing, causing a thin shot.
Correct both problems by centering your ball position and shifting your weight more toward your left side. You’ll achieve solid contact every time.
4. Release: Don’t add loft
As we examined on the previous page, weight distribution and ball position affect where the club meets the ball.
Well, you can get both these factors right and still hit a bad shot. Something happens during the motion, usually right before impact. The culprit is unnecessary wrist action at the bottom of the swing.
In an attempt to help the ball into the air, many players try to scoop the ball up with their wrists (above). This causes the club to bottom out behind the ball, with the poor results described previously–either fat or thin shots.
There’s enough loft on a wedge when the shaft sits perpendicular to the ground. You don’t need to add loft. Just make a rhythmic swing–remembering the fundamentals we have covered–and keep the hands quiet. Solid contact will make the ball fly high and land soft–near the hole.
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