A pitch shot is a high flying golf shot performed when the ball is approximately 20 to 80 yards away from the hole.
It is a shot that often needs to fly over an obstacle or hazard and land softly on the green, staying near to where it first landed. It is a shot that demands accuracy and the ability to stop the golf ball quickly and so a correct contact on the ball that produces a high ball flight and backspin is needed.
A pitch shot is a tough shot because the ball needs to travel high into the air and so the common mistake with golfers is to try to get the golf club underneath the golf ball and try to lift or scoop the ball up into the air. This kind of action causes the golfer to either ‘top’ or ‘thin’ the golf ball or hit the golf ball ‘fat’. ‘Topping’ or ’thinning’ the ball is where the top of the ball is struck with the bottom of the golf club which sends the ball low and fast across the ground. ‘Fatting’ the golf ball is where the ground is struck first before the ball as the golf club bottoms out early on it's way upward into the ball, resulting in the ball only travelling a few feet forwards. To strike a pitch shot correctly, the golfer actually needs to send the club head in a downwards direction through the golf ball and into the ground. The ball then rolls up the face of the golf club and rises up into the air which produces a huge amount of backspin. It is this backspin that stops the ball sharply on the green. An identifying feature of a good pitch shot is that a ‘divot’ (lump of grass) should be taken out of the ground after contact with the ball. This signifies that a downward strike has been achieved.
The part of the body that creates a downward action through the ball during a pitch shot are the wrists, through a hinge and roll action. Set up to the golf ball for a pitch shot as normal. When taking the club away from the golf ball at the start of the swing, make sure to hinge the front wrist (left for right handed golfers and right for left handed golfers) to a 90 degree angle fairly quickly. This means that the angle between the front arm and the club shaft makes a right angle and creates a steeper action to attack downwards into the ball. Check the swing at the halfway back position. When the front arm reaches 9 o'clock or is horizontal with the ground, the golf club should be pointing vertically upwards. Achieving this position in the backswing allows the hands to roll over through the ball in the downswing where the back hand (right hand for right handed golfers and left for left handed golfers) can force the club head downward through the ball and into the ground for the correct contact. A good feeling is one of the palms of the back hand pushing the golf club head in a downward direction through the ball.
Creating the correct hinge in the wrists in the backswing creates a steep action and allows a great ball strike with the ability to stop the ball on the green.