One of the toughest “easy” shots in golf is the mid-range pitch or long chip, when you’ve got 10-15 yards to cover between your ball and the green.
Few golfers practice shots from this range, and when they face one on the course, there’s a natural tendency to baby the shot and decelerate before impact.
Golfers feel they must swing softly to execute this shot – and therein lies the problem. By attempting to swing more slowly, you fail to accelerate and hit the ball with a crisp, descending blow. The left shoulder comes up early, the arms lag and you hit the ball fat. Some players feel they must help the ball into the air, so they use a flipping or scooping action of the wrists. The result is almost always ugly.
The key to successfully hitting these tricky, in-between shots it to keep your swing short but firm and hit down through the ball. Follow this simple sequence to iron out your issues:
1. Pick a gap wedge or pitching wedge, provided you’ve got ample room between the fringe and the hole.
2. Take a narrow stance with the ball centered between your feet.
3. Grip down a couple inches on the club and push the hands toward the target, leaning the shaft slightly forward.
4. Make a short backswing with minimal wrist action.
5. On the downswing, keep your hands ahead of the ball and focus on brushing the grass beneath it; you may even take a small divot.
6. Match the length of your follow-through to your backswing.
To prepare for the shot, make several practice swings while looking not at the ball, but at the spot where you want the ball to land. This will give you a better feel for the length of swing needed.