IF YOU are more than four or five metres from the edge of the green, then you will likely have to play a greenside pitch. The difference between a chip (discussed in the last article – The Resident edition of August 4) and a greenside pitch is that normally the ball will have to travel further through the air and roll less than a chip shot when it lands on the green.
So, if you have to fly the ball over ground between you and the green, and do not have much percentage of roll to the hole, then you should choose one of your most lofted clubs, pitching wedge, sand iron or lob wedge, and learn to play the shot described in this article.
If you think of putting as the colour white and full shots as the colour black, then pitching is the colour grey. The shade of grey depends on how far from the green you are, with those shots near to the green being a light grey and those further away being dark grey. If the shot to be played is a light shade, then adopt a stroke similar to your putting stroke and, of course, if the shade is dark, then more elements from the full swing will be adopted. (Pic 1)
The techniques for these types of shots are a mix of chipping and full shots, with the speed of the swing and the set up being similar to that of a chip, meanwhile the hold and pivot motion should be similar to that of a full swing. So it is clear to see that the greenside pitch is indeed a mix of techniques.
Think of the swing being like a pendulum, with the back and through swing being the same length and same speed. Generally, the distance to be covered is greater than a chip, so the swing will be longer; you can think of a clock face with six o’clock being at the ball, nine o’clock level with one hip and three o’clock level with the other. Depending on the distance that you wish the ball to travel, you can control it by the length of swing that you make, so if the grip end of your club goes to eight o’clock on the backswing, then it should go to four o’clock on the forward swing. [Pic 2 (46)]
Because the swing is longer, the hands and wrists will be more active in the swing than when chipping or putting, so it is recommended that you hold the club like you would do for a full shot.
Take your stance so that the ball is more or less across from the middle of your stance. You can also place a little more weight on the lead foot, perhaps 60 per cent.
Once the weight has been positioned, it should remain in the same place all the way through the swing; the legs act as a support for the rotation made by the upper body.
One of the most asked questions in our learning centres is “how can I get backspin?” What most players do not realise is that every shot has an element of backspin in order for the ball to get airborne, however, most often the backspin imparted at impact does not last very long and, by the time the ball lands, there is almost none left. Backspin is a product of the loft of the club, combined with the angle of attack and the speed of the club at contact, because this shot is short, the speed of swing is low and not normally enough to impart a lot of backspin. [Pic 3 (42)]
Good greenside pitching can make all the difference to your score. I know that if you can adopt some of the principles outlined above, you will save shots during each and every round.
Next article: Escaping the bunker
Credits: Photographs from Tony Bennett’s short game guide
• GOLF is written by Tony Bennett the head coach of Bennett’s Golf Learning Centers (BGLC), with centers located in Alto Golf, Alvor. Quinta da Ria, Tavira. Montado, Palmela. Santa da Serra, Madeira. For more information, advice on a specific point or general enquiry please e-mail [email protected] or call 932 524 253. You can also hear Tony every month on Kiss FM’s ‘Straight Talk’ with Phil Gilbert.