As golf beginners, it can be incredibly overwhelming to try and learn everything. This much is for certain. In fact, a lot of people would even feel perhaps discouraged by this fact. But the fact is, if you take everything one step at a time, you can (and you will) improve your game consistently. There are definitely things that you can do in order to get better at golf, such as learning how to read greens for breaks and speed. Another way in which you can improve your putts and lower your score is learning how to hit a pitch shot different distances.
So many amateurs and golf beginners can play golf relatively well. Hitting from the tee toward the green is not all too difficult, which is why people don’t struggle with it as much. However, when the distance grows to let’s say about 50 yards from the green, which is range of pitch shot, people start to actually struggle. When asked why they struggle, the answer seems to be that they don’t have time for practicing their pitch shots. Then this is usually followed with the justification that professionals simply have plenty of time to work on the aforementioned shots. Which, of course, leads to them developing feel.
But is it impossible to learn how to hit a pitch shot different distances if you don’t have as much time as the pros?
In today’s article, we’ll be talking about how drills and practice can be done so that you too can improve your game. We’ll be teaching you how to do this without you needing to dedicate all of your time to the greens.
Some Terminologies to Learn
Before we begin with the lesson on how to hit a pitch shot different distances, first we would like to go over some of the terms. There are a few words that you’ll consistently see in this article that may confuse you if you aren’t all too familiar with golf, so we would like to help you out real quick first!
- Pitch – In golf, pitch is a shot or a swing that is played with a club that is highly lofted. These clubs are designed to hit shots meant to go a short-ish distance, with steep descent and steep ascent. Pitch shots are usually shortened to just pitches or pitch, and they are typically played into greens. They’re usually done from about forty to fifty yards, or even closer.
- Stance – Your stance is basically how you stand as you begin to hit your shot. There are wide open stances, with your feet a full shoulder width apart. Then, of course, you have the way in which you hold your club.
- Chipping – The next thing is chipping, or what is known as “chip shot”. A chip is a swing or shot played from rather close to the greens, typically within only a few yards of putting surface. It results in your ball popping up into the air briefly, then falling and hitting the green or ground before it rolls forward in the direction of the hole. In golf, chips are known as “short game”.
Learn How to Pitch Shot
Once you have learned the jargon above, you can finally begin to actually learn how pitch shots work.
The first step in all of this, of course, is for you to learn how to pitch shot – both with consistency and accuracy. Doing this will greatly impact your game and increase your confidence in your skills. That way, you know that even if you hit a drive all wayward which makes you miss the green in 2, you can still save par thanks to your pitching skills.
Indeed, pitching is a skill that most everybody interested in golfing should master to at least a reasonable level. If you’re competent in this regard, you’ll find that it will require less timing as well as less coordination. That is, when compared to drives or full irons. On top of that, pitching will also require less strength physically – and you also won’t need to be as flexible. All things considered, not a bad skill to learn in the slightest!
One thing that people do tend to lack is confidence when it comes to pitch shots. Many golfers, especially beginners, are typically happy to simply land the ball on the green at all. But the truth is, you can improve significantly – just follow the techniques we’re about to give you here today.
Setting Up Your Pitch Shot
When it comes to pitch shots, you must first take the setup you normally do for your full irons. However, now instead of the elements that generate power, we will include elements to promote both control and feel.
You can pretty much reduce power while simultaneously increasing control on an adjustable or sliding scale. This will help when it comes to your control of distance. Here are the elements that you will be adjusting:
- First reduce your stance width
- Move your grip down the club even further
- Reduce your swing’s length
Here is an example when using your club wedge.
- When stance is fully shoulder width and the club is gripped at the top, your full swing will likely send your ball 65 yards away.
- Then, when stance is narrowed, grip is halfway down club’s grip, and swing is about ¾, the ball will probably go 50 yards.
- Likewise, a narrow stance, a half swing, and a grip at the bottom of club’s grip will probably send your ball maybe 35 yards away.
When you’re practicing at the range, try the above positions with 3 kinds of clubs. Try it with a sand wedge, a gap wedge, and also a lob wedge, for example. The result will be 9 different pitching distances.
If you want your pitch shots to be shorter, you should have a grip further down the club’s handle. Your stance must also be narrowed, but opened. By open, we mean your hips and feet should be pointing towards left of the target (if you’re right handed). Put more of your weight frontwards, at about 60/40 on your front foot.
How to Hit a Pitch Shot Different Distances
We’ve talked about how to set up for your shots. On top of that we have also explained how different stances and grips will affect your stroke. Now it’s time for us to actually discuss the important part of this lesson – how to pitch a shot different distances.
The above section about setting up will teach you to have better control when it comes to your pitch shots and your distances. Distance is really what it’s all about when it comes to pitching after all.
Let’s take a look at controlling distance for your pitch shots, shall we?
Chipping and Pitching
Chipping and Pitching particularly when pertaining to control of distance, is often said to be rather down to both finesse and feel. Quite unfortunately, most people take years upon years of frequent practice in order to develop this high of a degree feel. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do in order to “take a shortcut” so to speak, and curb the learning curve. To do this, you must take a structured approach towards your shots.
Exercises for Pitching Technique + Distance Control
Before we further discuss how to hit a pitch shot different distances, we first want to talk about the different elements that go into it. It may look and sound like a lot, but the simple fact is that you must learn a lot in order to find better success in golf. Don’t stress, however, because despite this fact, you will indeed have a ton of fun in the process. There’s also simply something quite satisfying about watching yourself slowly progressing along. Knowing you are getting better and better is such a fulfilling thing – believe us, it’s true.
To develop feel for controlling distance can indeed take quite a bit of practice time. But like we said, you can take a short cut. Here is an exercise you can learn and do regularly every time that you are at the practice range.
Try this Exercise
- Bring 3 clubs (lofted) on your trip to your practice range. A few examples are a sand wedge, a gap wedge, as well as a lob wedge.
- Then, take the club that is most lofted. Use it to hit ten full shots with the club parallel to ground, up behind your head. However, you should adjust your grip. Grip down a little further, and make your stance just slightly narrower compared to what you’d normally have for your average full shot. Once the shots are done, pace out the distances of all 10 and average them.
- Hit a further 10 pitch shots, but this time only pull the club back enough so your arms become parallel with the ground. Once the 10 shots are done, also pace out their average distances. Don’t forget to move your grip even further down on the club – and narrow your stance more too.
- Last but not the least, hit another 10 shots. This time, use a shorter backswing. By this, we mean that your hands should be hip level, or the clubhead should be at the level of your head. Grip it as far down the club as you can, while also using the narrowest possible stance. Pace out the 10 shot distance average here as well.
You must then repeat this same exercise for the 2 other clubs that you brought along with you. Now you will have 9 distances (3 clubs x 3 stances) in total. Memorize them or make note of them for easy reference. When you’re at the golf course, quickly judge the distance of your target then go back to your notes to see which of the 9 swings will be best. Do some practice swings, then have at it!
A Different Way of Looking at It
While all of the above is a relatively simple way of learning how to hit a pitch shot different distances, sometimes it can be good to give a different perspective. So to make everything even easier to understand, we’ve got your back. We’re talking about 7-8-9 method, in particular.
7-8-9 Method is an exercise or drill of pitch shots. It requires quite a bit of practice at the beginning, but once you’ve established distances, it will be something you can rely on in the future.
All of this isn’t really much different from the above techniques that we have already mentioned. However, it’s pretty much an easier way of looking at and remembering all of it. For those who are more visual learners, or for people who are more used to relying on mental images, the 7-8-9 technique is a great way to do it.
In essence, 7-8-9 should be thought of as the arms of a clock, and their positions thereof.
First Position: 7 O’Clock
As you begin, first imagine the position of the hours on a clock. Imagine that you have a big clock right ahead of you. First, learn how to swing the left arm (if you are right handed) in accordance to the different hours on the clock. This will help you picture these hours as one method of controlling your pitch shots’ distances. 7 o’clock will look as you would imagine it – with the club positioned at the 7 o’clock position. There’s a very small wrist cock, which is present in order to help you deliver a more downward blow to your shot.
Practice your pitch shots by drawing your club back towards the 7 o’clock position. Do this until you are hitting shots consistently a specific distance. This end average result (distance) will from now on be your 7 o’clock shot.
Second Position: 8 O’Clock
Just like with the above, you must now start at the 8 O’clock position. Practice by hitting shots while swinging your left (for right-handed) arm to the position of 8 on the clock. Note the distances and average them out. Swing consistently in tempo, and you’ll soon learn the distance associated to your 8 o’clock swing. Once you’ve done this and made a note of the average distance, you can now consider this as your 8 o’clock swing. Don’t forget the slight cock of the wrist, just as in the 7 position!
Third Position: 9 O’Clock
Finally, we have the third position, or the 9 O’clock. This position is basically the same as the two above, with the exception being your left arm will now swing to 9 o’clock. Practice this and average your distances to arrive at your 9’oclock swing.
Furthermore, you can also do a 10 o’clock swing, so that you can have four different distances. Knowing the three to four distances will allow you to consistently pitch your ball at certain distances even when you’re on the golf course.
Making Use of This Method
Once you’ve tried this technique enough times, you’ll learn your specific distances for each swing. This becomes a tested and true method that you can rely on. It is knowledge that will translate on the golf course once you make your way to it.
After practicing this technique enough, you can make use of the knowledge on the greens. If, for example, you find yourself standing 40 yards away from the flag, you will then know what to do. You can take a look at the distance and pretty much say “okay, well this is my 9 o’clock shot”, and you can use your particular swing to do it! 7-8-9 truly does simplify things in this manner. With this method, you can pretty much know for certain that a particular swing will send your ball a particular distance.
A little bit of practice will certainly be necessary in order to successfully make use of this technique while on the course. You’ll find, however, that once you’ve got the hang of it you can gauge pitching shot distances much more easily. As a result, you can then accurately pitch your shots to the correct yardage. Your golfing buddies will be so impressed, they’ll be asking you where you learned to pitch so well all of a sudden!
Tips and Tricks for How to Hit a Pitch Shot Different Distances
When it comes to performing your pitch shots, there are a few things to remember that can really help you improve your game. In general, there are about 3 rules for you to really consider. We’ve made sure to include them below so that you can make sure to remember them as you go.
Don’t forget these three rules for your pitching shots. Remember these and you should be able to consistently hit your shots both in the practice range and in the golf course. The 7-8-9 method, along with the below tips, will allow you to significantly improve your golf game despite everything.
Keep Your Weight on Your Front Foot
First things first, you must keep your weight, or at least the majority of it, on your front foot. There is a reason for this of course – it will help you in many ways. First off, it will help you to keep yourself steady as you swing. Furthermore, it will help you in imparting the right downward blow which is important to creating the type of backspin that you want for this shot.
You should also remember not to shift your weight to your back foot – not at any time. For pitch shots, you must keep your weight on your front foot – even when you’re at the top of your back swing. This isn’t always the case for full shots, however, so don’t concern yourself too much in that situation!
Find a Consistent Pace for Your Swing
Next thing for you to remember is that you must find a pace for your swing. Use this pace consistently throughout. There isn’t any reason for you to swing slowly one time and then swing fast another – This will only result in inconsistent shots. Certainly not something you would want if you’re trying to improve your game and lower your score in the long term.
To consistently pace your swings, try imagining a pendulum. Picture how it moves backwards and forwards in a consistent pace – the same pace, in fact. Remember this and try to feel this same image in each and every one of your pitching shots. Keeping this in mind, you should be able to now get the type of consistent results you want every time.
Don’t Forget to Follow Through
Last but certainly not the least, when you swing, remember your follow through. It’s important to do so – don’t stop the follow through on a pitching shot! Otherwise, you’ll find yourself coming up short frequently. Your follow through should end at about the 3 o’clock position.
After your follow through, don’t forget your finish! Remember that your follow through should be directly at or toward the target, and not at or around the (your) body instead. Your hands should finish at about the center of your chest.
All in all, we believe that golf is not only a sport, but also an art. There are plenty of things to learn, for sure. And indeed you will need a ton of practice. Many will know that practice is key to getting your necessary results. However, we do hope that with the information we have provided you here, you can now have an easier time. The above “shortcuts” for how to hit a pitch shot different distances will truly make a difference in your golf game. To the point, of course, that you’ll be swinging so well everyone will be rather impressed!
Don’t forget that although all of this does indeed take plenty of effort, the fact remains. Whatever hard work you put in, you will reap in fantastic results on the course in the end!