Most amateurs can get it around ok from tee to green, but when it comes time to hit a 30 yard shot over a bunker or a 50 yard shot to a pin on a back tier of a green, many seem to struggle. PGA Tour professionals work hard at these shots for long hours to make sure they can get up and down from any situation and any distance. It’s these types of shots that can really save a good round from turning into a bad one. So to help with your pitch shots from within 50 yards, we’re going to talk about developing your own system to gauge distances.
Most players don’t realize that knowing exactly how far you hit each club is a huge scoring advantage. The same is true for your short game shots – knowing how far to hit each shot is crucial. It’s a well known trick to compare the hands of a clock to the amount of backswing you should take on short pitch shots. Different instructors call this method by different names, but the entire goal of this process is to help you develop a system to know your distances.
Imagine as you address the ball that you have a large clock in front of you. Learn to swing your left arm (right arm for left handers) to the various “hours” of the clock. The 9 o’clock position is most popular – your left arm should be parallel to the ground. Your left arm and the club should form a 90 degree angle. After you’ve mastered that position, try the 8 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions.
Once you have the backswing down, make sure to follow through to a similar “time” on the clock. So a 9 o’clock backswing would have a 3 o’clock follow-through.
Distances will vary from player to player as in full shots, but once you have them established you have a great method to rely on. When you find yourself 30 yards from the flag you can say to yourself, “OK, this is my X o’clock shot,” and you know for sure that if you swing your arm to that position, the ball is going to go about 30 yards.
A few other things to note while practicing these shots:
Try to keep the majority of your weight on your front foot. This helps to create a downward blow and avoid hitting behind the ball.
Keep the pace of your swing consistent throughout. Rushing this swing will only result in negative results.
Make sure to face your chest directly at the target and not around your body. The hands should finish in about the middle of your chest.
With a little practice, you can master these distances and start improving your game in no time. You’ll soon find yourself playing these shots with much more fun rather than angst.
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