By Dave Pelz
To learn a good pitch swing motion, use my simple method of finding a “reference swing.” Using my lofted (60-degree lob) wedge, I stop my backswing when the shaft is parallel to the ground, then swing through until the shaft is perpendicular. This length swing, with this club and my normal pitch-swing rhythm, flies the ball 15 yards in the air. With my pitching wedge, this swing motion flies my shots 22 yards, while my sand (S) wedge and extra-lofted (X) wedge shots fly about 18 and 12 yards respectively, from the same reference swing motion. These are my “reference” pitching distances, and form the basis from which I adjust my swing and club selection to produce different flight distances as I need them on the course.
You should learn your reference-swing distances for all of your wedges. Don’t try to make them fly particular distances by hitting them harder or swinging faster. Just learn how far your reference swing flies shots with each club, when swung from parallel to vertical, with your smooth, natural rhythm. This will give you a set of known flight distances so you have control of a variety of distances with just slight modifications of that swing. You can learn your distances by hitting to a pitching green or into laundry baskets in your backyard. When establishing distances, what happens on the ground isn’t important; you simply want to know how far the ball flies from that swing with each club.
Keep practicing, holding your finish and watching until each shot stops rolling. With practice, you will be able to stand over your ball and, in your mind’s eye, see the perfect landing spot on the green. As you begin landing them there, you’ll see your shots rolling up to, and sometimes into, the hole. The more you practice, the sooner it will happen.
Good luck and good scoring to you!