In golf, the pitch shot requires hitting your ball up in the air and onto the green without too much forward roll. A pitch that rolls more than a few yards after it lands can end up off the green or in the sand. If you aren’t able to practice pitch shots in a way that allows you to take divots and create backspin, trying to take a divot during a round can lead to mishits. Knowing and using a few fundamentals will help you pitch the ball better and keep it on the green.
Because you are close to the green, a pitch does not require you to use all of your power. For this reason, your legs don’t play as important a part in your swing as a typical drive or fairway shot, and you won’t need a pronounced back-foot-to-front-foot weight shift to carry off the shot. This allows you to play the ball farther back in your stance, closer to your back foot. Keeping the ball farther back decreases your chances of losing control of the shot.
You don’t need a lower center of gravity during a pitch shot, so spreading your feet farther apart to get down on the ball is not necessary. For the pitch, place your feet closer together, about a foot apart. Stay down on the pitch shot and naturally come under the ball.
On a pitch shot, you don’t need the long swing and pause at the top of the backswing that transfer power to the forward swing. While a longer, full swing requires a 1-2-3 tempo, a pitch shot uses a 1-2 or back-forward tempo, like a metronome or pendulum on a grandfather clock.
To better control of a pitch shot, don’t use much wrist motion during the swing. Some golf instructors suggest choking up on the club to prevent too much wrist movement. If you are close to the hole, you may want to pitch with a shorter club, like a sand wedge, rather than trying to change your grip. Whichever club you choose, keep your wrists firm during a pitch shot, let your wrists break naturally with the swing and don’t actively break your wrists to get under the ball. Use the loft provided by a pitching wedge to get your ball into the air—not your wrists.
The closer you are to the hole, the shorter your swing should be. The longer your swing, the more acceleration you’ll generate, possibly sending the ball too far. There is no formula for determining the correct length of the backswing on a pitch. If you want more control, use a shorter swing.