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For Good Chipping Form, Follow These Instructions to the Letter

Peter Harris

Peter Harris

There are no funny analogies in this piece, just serious stuff here. So, let’s get started on pitching a golf ball.

When you are pitching, you are too close to the green to use a full swing and too far from the green to chip or putt the ball. A chip shot is basically a putting stoke with a lofted club in your hand. A pitch shot requires a good setup, body rotation and passive hands.

This is where it gets confusing. When you are pitching a ball, you should use the sand wedge, not a pitching wedge. Every skilled golfer uses a sand wedge for pitch shots because it has more loft than a pitching wedge, so you will hit a higher shot that will land softer with more stop. The sand wedge also has a sole, or bottom of the club, with more bounce which will make the club more forgiving and allow you to slide the leading edge of the wedge underneath the ball.

Thank the clubmakers for still making this confusing for you by stamping a P on the club for pitching wedge. You will use the pitching wedge the majority of time for yardages that require a full swing, like Sergio Garcia on the famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass last Sunday.

Set up for a pitch shot with your shoulders level and a touch more weight on your lead foot. The goal is to place your body’s center in front of the ball, which prevents you from hitting behind the ball and trying to scoop the ball in the air.

Place the ball in the middle-forward of your stance, club face slightly open, with the handle of club even with the ball. The goal of a pitch shot is to swing the club head, deliver the club to this same setup and rotate to the finish.

The key to good pitch shots is limiting the arm swing, keeping the hands passive and using a little body rotation, or pivot, back and through the shot. While rotating back and through, keep your arms close to your body and let your elbows move to the seams of your shirt. This helps keep your hands quiet and requires you to use rotational speed to deliver touch and distance.

Folks who struggle pitching the ball typically use too big or too long of an arm swing and not much rotation. As a result, during the downswing, the mind knows the arms will create too much speed, so we don’t rotate through the shot, which causes the hands to take over and flip at the ball, resulting in disaster.

Put a couple socks in your arm pits to get a feel for the upper body rotation, keeping arms close to your body and limiting the length your arm swing. Feel how your body rotation and elbows to seams keep your hands quiet while delivering the club through impact.

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column will appear regularly on the VALLEY NEWS recreation page during the playing season.