Golf is all about getting your golf balls into those eighteen holes. Sounds simple enough? Yeah, rrright!
A round of golf will invariably include a couple of par 3 holes; for the brave, those greens may be accessible from the tee shot. However, the majority of holes on tournament golf courses start with a tee shot and end on the green; these are the straight forward(ish) shots. It is the strokes in between – or ‘the short game’ – that generally cause the golfer consternations with a whole host of hazards otherwise not present off the tee or on the smooth, well-kept surface of the green.
The guys over at golfsmith.com have put together a nifty little guide to the three types of shots in your approach play that will take you from the fairway (or rough, water or bunker) onto the hallowed putting lawn. In our own inimitable stylee, we wrap up their overview of this range of strokes that, according to their fine article with advice from pro-golfer and 2001 PGA Champ David Toms, by mastering, is the quickest route to returning a lower golf score.
Paint a pretty pitcher
First and foremost, there isn’t one standard golf club to play a pitch shot with; only through experience and knowledge of your own game will you know which of your irons will give you enough loft to float the golf ball over whatever obstacle it is that is necessitating you to use this particular stroke.
In order to accomplish this shot with accuracy of direction and strength, position your stance so that the golf ball’s central to it, with your equilibrium slightly leaning on the forward foot. Allow your wrists to flex as the natural ‘hinge’ they are, but don’t try to scoop the action beneath the golf ball to get the desired loft.
By choosing the correct golf club and emphasising the backswing tempo of your shot to mirror the downswing tempo, adjusted in pace for the distance of the shot, the combination of your stance, the golf club and an unflappable tempo will see the golf ball clear your obstruction and – touch wood – get you within putting distance of the pin.
More than one golf club to play a successful pitch stroke
The pitch is one shot that can be played with an array of golf clubs. According to the article (and I take their word on this) Phil Mickleson has been known to play his pitch shots with a high-loft iron, using a full swing, tempering the strength according to the distance to the pin.
Pure physics tells you that there will be backspin using this style, so adjust the strength of the shot to plant the golf ball on the green past the pin, allowing enough yardage on the shot to accommodate the degree of angle on the face of the golf club and the strength of the golf swing you’re playing to maximise the effect. If there is precious little green beyond the pin, use a flatter face with less strength so that the degree of back spin is less severe.
Playing your way out of a bunker and the science behind fission chips coming up in the next article…(so sorry)…