Golf Tips: When Pitching, Swing Short-to-Long
DAVE PELZ HAS BECOME ONE OF GOLF’S FOREMOST EXPERTS ON THE SHORT GAME.
He’s helped tour pros and everyday golfers improve their ability to get the ball close to the hole from around the green. According to Pelz, “I’ve come up with countless ways to save strokes around the greens over the years. If I had to pick the most effective, I’d take the short-to-long pitch.”
Pelz explains, “As the name suggests, you hit it by making a short backswing and a much longer through-swing. The combination produces extra loft and softer-landing shots, and who doesn’t want that in their short game? Better yet, it gives you more-consistent yardages, because it makes you control distance with the length of your backswing, not by swinging faster or slower. Manipulating swing speed is a sure way to catch the shot fat or thin and leave it miles from the pin.”
Many everyday golfers tend to take long backswings, even on short pitch shots, then try to cut down on the follow through to control distance. The results are inconsistent at best and can lead to fat, chunked shots that go almost nowhere or thin, bladed shots over or through the green. The short backswing promotes confidence to properly accelerate through impact and produce a longer follow-through. A long finish makes it look like the ball should go a long way, but with a short backswing, it flies a short, more controlled distance.
Pelz insists it’s relatively easy to pick up the short-to-long pitch swing. He says, “The only challenge is knowing how far you’re taking the club back, because your eyes are focused on the ball, not your backswing. So have a buddy watch you. Ask him to compare the length of your backswing to the length of your through-swing, and check that the former is shorter than the latter. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do. If you don’t get this right, you’ll struggle, which is why most Tour players ask their caddies to watch them hit balls on the range. Even for elite players, the difference between feel and real can be massive. Nothing accelerates improvement like good feedback.”