Pitching Techniques of the Tour Pros

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

Over time I have compiled quite a number of pitch shots by various Tour pros so I thought it would be interesting to go over some of these and discuss the different techniques they utilize. The two most common shots are the “leading edge” pitch, and the “using the bounce” pitch. As you will see, the leading edge pitch refers to a shot struck with the hands well ahead of the clubhead and the shaft leaning forward at impact. Most of the time the impact position is previewed at address by leaning the weight forward and the hands forward prior to the takeaway. Good examples shown here are Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel. I prefer to hit the majority of my pitches in this fashion, and will always teach players this technique first before moving to what I consider the more difficult option of using the bounce, which involves impacting the ball with the hands less forward and clubhead passing the hands more quickly, giving the feeling of sliding the club under the ball to create an elevated, soft shot. In the video we see John Senden and Gary Woodland hitting shots that require such a technique due to the pin being tucked close to the side of the green where they have missed their shot. Commonly referred to as a “flop” shot, I believe that it requires much more skill and touch to figure out how far a ball will go when you scoop it up than when you strike it with the hands leaning more forward. The undercut shot, in my opinion, should be reserved for situations where it is the only way to get the ball remotely close, but it definitely should be in the arsenal of the serious player. However, most good short game players rely on the leading edge shot most of the time, as it is the technique that allows the player to make consistently solid contact off of all sorts of lies, especially the tight fairway lie.

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John Neeson April 3, 2014

The Accursed Kikuyu.
Personally I think there is a divide between ‘pitch’ shots with any kind of pace or force and those which are purely touch shots around the green and are more like chips. If you have ever played on Kikuyu grass, (like at Riviera) you will know this. Standard pitches from say 30 yds on up can be played normally because the speed and weight of the club cuts through any minor contact error. By normally, I mean the ‘leading edge’ technique Wayne expounds.
‘Flop’ shots around the green can be very easy since the ball sits high on Kikuyu – the ‘hackers’ delight. But sometimes it can sit uncomfortably high for the good player, who prefers to feel the ground under the ball on contact.
Where Kikuyu does get scary is (a) delicate pitches around the green with a wedge or sand iron and (b) playing a high short pitch or flop when the ball is ‘down’ in the Kikuyu. In the case of (a) perfect contact is required or you can hit the ball embarrassingly short by catching the turf one millimetre fat – and playing the ball back is no safeguard since it obviates the bounce and increases the risk of catching the leading edge.
I tend to think that one might need a different type of ‘bounce’ on wedges in order to play Kikuyu consistently. So if anyone out there has any Kikuyu tips, I’d be grateful.
Since moving back to the east coast of Australia, I have sadly left behind the tight links turf of my native Scotland, the wonderful native couch of the (old) Melbourne Sandbelt and the delicate lush grasses of European parkland courses. I am now consigned to hitting, (dare I say yipping), from the ‘Velcro’ or barbed wire of Kikuyu. I believe this stuff came from South Africa. I should ask Schwartzel for a tip. They owe us one for this invasion of African weed we play golf on in New South Wales.

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