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Golf Article - Controlling Pitches After They Hit


One way to chop strokes off your golf handicap quickly is to improve your pitching. The closer you land the ball to the pin on a pitch, the easier your putt. To improve your pitching, you first must learn to hit all your wedges. That sounds like a lot of work but it's not. You don't have to master pitching with each wedge. You just have to practice enough to develop a favorite while knowing which shots to avoid. Then make that favorite your go-to pitch shot under pressure.

Once you've learned to hit all your wedges, the next step is learning to control your pitches after they land. It's one of the keys to pitching success. Usually, it's best to land a pitch shot at least three feet on the green, as I've said in my golf tips newsletter. It's better to hit a higher, softer shot with a 64-degree wedge than to try and hit the fringe and roll the ball to the pin. Fringes cause more bad bounces than the green, making it harder to control the shot after hitting.


Choose An Approach
Another key decision with pitches is choosing an approach. Some players hit low pitches that run. Others hit high pitches that land softly. Both approaches work. However, the best finesse players prefer shot trajectory rather than spin to control the placement and bounce on greens. High soft-landing shots are more predictable when well executed. Plus, they're easier to hit time after time, as you may have learned in your golf lessons. Low running shots are harder to hit well consistently.

Let your skill at executing the shot, plus its margin for error and its probability of success, determine your approach. If you think you can get the ball closer with a flop shot than a bump-and-run, use the flop shot. The key is getting the ball as close to the pin as possible. Also, commit to the shot before swinging. If you're not committed to the shot, your chances of executing it drop. Practice the shot in your mind first, then take your stance and hit.

Decide On Loft
If you choose to hit a high shot, you must then decide on the shot's loft. This is a key decision because a shot's loft affects its roll. How much loft do you need? A good golf tip to keep in mind is that when hitting a pitching wedge from bent grass, the ball rolls about as far as it flies. With a sand wedge from bent grass, the ball runs about two-thirds of its carry. If you hit a sand wedge with 15 yards of carry, it runs about 10 yards. With more lofted wedges on bent grass, the ball runs about half the carry distance.

Modify these estimates based on the green's conditions. For example, the harder the green, the farther the ball rolls after landing. The softer the green, the sooner it stops. Also keep in mind that the higher the shot, the deeper the pitch mark the ball makes and the faster it stops. Shots from bent, rye, or bluegrass are easier to hit because the grass doesn't grab your club as much as other grasses. Bermuda grass is difficult to pitch from, especially if you're hitting against the grain. Kikuya grass, the dominant grass in Japan, is the most difficult to pitch from.

Effects Of Grass
Many greens have bent, rye, and Bermuda grass. They all affect the ball differently after hitting. Below are some golf tips to keep in mind:

* Expect more roll on bent greens and a little less on the thicker, stronger-bladed Bermuda greens.
* Expect almost no affect from the grain on bent grass, unless you can see it growing in once direction or another.
* Bermuda grain has a big affect on roll. Hitting into the grain, the ball stops faster. Hitting with the grain, the ball rolls farther.

Ask in the clubhouse what type of grass the course uses on its greens. Then use the above golf tips as guidelines when pitching. Also keep in mind that pitch-shot execution errors can be magnified or minimized depending on where a ball lands. So if you want to quickly chop strokes off your golf handicap, improve your pitching by controlling where the ball lands.


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