At the Jim McLean Golf School, improving players’ pitching ability is a cornerstone of instruction. “We continually find that many amateurs have more difficulty hitting a half-wedge shot than hitting a full one,” says Chris Toulson, corporate director of instruction. “But good pitching is paramount to consistent scoring.”
The most common cause for poor pitching is “scooping,” which is caused by a left-wrist breakdown or “flicking” during impact. This results in both heavy and thin shots, and fosters an apprehensive mindset whenever the player faces a shot inside 50 yards. One way the McLean school fixes this problem is by focusing on a proper pitching follow-through.
At the finishing position for a pitch, where the clubhead is waist high, most good players will have the clubhead slightly to the right of their body when viewed from down the target line (see photo 1). Their hips will also be fully rotated and facing the target. To get the clubhead to the correct place, a player must keep some downward angle in their right wrist and not break the angle of the left wrist. If a break does happen due to flicking the wrists at impact, the clubhead will often finish to the left of the playerís body (see photo 2).
Toulson suggests two ways to work on getting to the right position at follow-through. First, spend 2-3 minutes in front of a mirror making slow practice swings. Stop for several seconds at follow-through to note the club’s position and to accentuate the feel. Use the photo here to help you achieve the correct position.
Next, go outside and hit several short shots. When executed correctly, you may feel as though you are abbreviating the follow-through or hitting a punch shot; thatís just fine. Crisp pitch shots come from striking down on the back of the ball first and then bumping the ground just beyond the ball. A follow-through that gets the clubhead into the correct position--somewhere between the target line and your body--ensures that you are hitting down and not flicking the wrists. Thinking of the follow-through position is also a great way to put a simple swing thought in your mind as you pull the trigger.