Don't pitch the idea of a 'pitch' shot

One of the biggest problems I see players having trouble with is less than full pitch shots. The pitching wedge is almost identical to the nine-iron except it has more loft. The sand wedge has a wider, heavier sole than the pitching wedge and even more loft. Also if you sight along the bottom, you will see that the trailing edge of the sole is lower than the leading edge. This is called "bounce" and is designed to help the club float through sand and taller grass without digging in.

If you are consistently hitting the ball "thin" (above the ball's center line), try moving a little closer to the ball. If you are consistently hitting the ball "fat," try moving a little farther away.

Just like throwing or kicking a ball, the motion is the same. There is simply less of it. The "less of it" is most emphatic on the back swing, not on the forward swing.

It is essential that you conserve energy when turning - coiling away from the target and expend energy toward the target, regardless of the distance of the shot to be played. Impact with the ball is still "sharp." The sensation is one of accelerating through the ball. The key is to stay mobile on your feet. The rotation of your body, emphatically during the forward turn, will be active-as-mobilized by your feet.

The same concept of energy expenditure is true for throwing or kicking a ball. You would conserve energy in your back motion and expend energy in your forward motion. To maintain control of your distance (and accuracy), your forward swing always will be longer than your back swing.

The pitch shot is just a small golf swing motion. There is less back swing than follow through. You may only use a fraction of your available power and energy to hit the ball a short distance. The swinging motion should reduce the distance the ball is hit by reducing the back swing energy.

The three elements that constitute a functional pitch shot swing:

1. Your follow through always will be longer than your back swing.

2. Your body's turning motion, feet to shoulders, will be complete.

3. The finish position of your body will look and feel the same as for a long swing except that your arms and club head may not generate enough momentum (depending on the shot length) to finish over the shoulder.

Rules teaser:

In a match play competition, the opponents played three holes out of order. When they realized this, they went back and then played them in the proper order, disregarding the holes played out of order. What is the ruling?

Answer to last teaser:

In a mixed alternate shot event where the women play the front tees and men the back tees, the man taking his turn hit his shot out of bounds. Where should the woman play her next stroke from? Answer: the back tee (another ruling that should be reviewed, in my opinion).

John Lucas is the professional at Sky Ridge Golf Course and can be reached at

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