Golf Pitching Drills & Practice Routine
The other day I was playing in an 18 hole competition with other club members for money. My playing group consisted of two older gentleman and a younger college student my age. We were paired together as a team trying to score our best to rack up the most points compared to other teams and hopefully win money.
As we we’re playing, the college student was missing lots of greens and he had a high handicap written on the score card so I took it as an opportunity to analyze his game and see where he was losing strokes. His swing was decent and he had power, hitting as far as me so I assumed he was losing strokes in his short game.
I noticed he was getting down to the greens in a reasonable amount of shots, he was just missing the green in regulation. His misses were bad misses, landing 10+ yards left or right of the green. This left pitch shots to the green instead of chip shots.
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Unfortunately, he didn’t have a soft pitch shot or flop shot in his skill arsenal. Every time he faced a pitch shot, it would end up running past the hole 20-50 feet with too much speed and not enough backspin to slow it down.
I’m not ripping the kid here, just sharing an observation that his game lacked pitching skills which were the main area he needed to focus to stop the bleeding on the score card. His putting was good, his golf swing was decent, and his chipping wasn’t bad.
He just struggled with approach shots and pitching.
If this sounds like your golf game as well, then today’s article should be of help as we cover some simple golf pitching drills to improve your pitching skills and help you end up closer to the hole for the putt.
Why is Pitching Important?
To reach scratch golf you must have a great short game. It’s essential.
One of the areas you’ll rely on quite frequently is your pitching skills. As you get better, more golf shots will land on the green in regulation and those that miss won’t miss too badly. You’ll find yourself hitting chip shots most the time.
But you’ll also face pitch shots from time to time especially as a beginner, because your approach shot misses are much worse. You’ll face long distances that you need to carry the ball in the air, which means the ball is going to roll a lot when it lands.
COMING IN HOT!!
So today’s golf pitching drills will help you learn more about your current skill level when it comes to pitch shots. You’ll also begin practicing the flop shot so that you can land softer on the green and not roll off the other side like my playing partner was doing the other day.
Golf Pitching Drill #1: Learning the Check Up & Roll
This first drill involves observing how each of your short game clubs check up when they land. Grab 3-4 different clubs to test out with pitch shots. Here are example club selections:
- Sand Wedge
- Gap Wedge
- Pitching Wedge
- 52-60 Degree Wedge
When I work on pitching drills, I typically just use my 54 degree wedge and 60 degree wedge. The further away from the green I am, the more likely it is that I’ll use the 60 degree wedge because I need the ball to come in softer and not roll much when it lands.
Start about 5 strides away from the green and drop 10 balls on the ground. Hit all 10 pitch shots with the same club, watching how each one lands, checks up, and rolls out on the green.
Repeat this with each of your other wedges. Once you have this information in mind, you’ll know which clubs are best for different pin placements on the green.
For example, when there isn’t much room to land the ball and stop it quickly, you’ll likely need a lofted wedge that can hit the flop shot. For greens where the hole is on the opposite side, leaving lots of landing room for the ball to land and roll, you could go with a lower lofted wedge that’s gonna roll out more after landing.
Pitching Drill Practice Routine
Complete 100 pitching repetitions each day at the practice green for a week. Complete sets of 10 with different clubs, switching back and forth to give each one a break. In my case, I would rotate back and forth between my two wedges I use, until I’ve hit 5 sets of 10 with each to total my 100 reps.
Golf Pitching Drill #2: The Flop Shot
In the first golf pitching drill you got to test out different wedges in your bag and learn how they check up and roll.
As you move further away from the green, more and more of your clubs will no longer work to use. No matter how perfectly you land the ball, these wedges will still roll out too far and end up off the green on the other side.
When you get this far away from the green that pitch shots become burners, skidding across greens, you need to make adjustments to the club face. You need to open the face more to increase the loft and hit higher projectile golf shots that come down soft, with little roll.
As you open up the face, making it more flat with the ground, you also need to adjust your stance and swing path to compensate for the face being open. Then swing down and get the club face underneath the ball, popping it up with a high rate of backspin.
Here is a great video on how to hit a flop shot if you’re unfamiliar:
Pitching Drill Practice Routine:
Complete 100 flop shots per practice, with focus on solid contact and distance control. Keep a similar tempo with each shot, just focus on changing the back swing length to add or reduce power based on distance the ball needs to travel in the air.
Golf Pitching Skill Improvement
Overall, implement these two golf pitching drills in your practice routine to build stronger control on your pitches and face shorter putts. Complete about 200 pitching reps per practice to improve your distance control and contact consistency. Yes, 200 sounds like a lot but it takes hard work! Michael Jordan shot thousands of jump shots each week. You can knock out a few hundred pitch shots in practice!
Start off with drill #1, learning how your clubs check up and roll.
Then practice your golf pitch shot from all kinds of different distances and lies around the green. Challenge your golf pitch shots by changing it up. Start with pins tight to the edge of the green and then practice with the pin in the middle or far side of the green, leaving more landing room and roll.
Work your way further away from the green (30-40 yards) to the point you have no choice but to start hitting higher golf shots. Practice flop shots in sets of 10, moving around to different lies and distances around the practice green.
Really focus on making solid contact with your pitch shots, avoiding the skulls and shanks.
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