By MICHAEL SWEENIE, Head Golf Professional At Dreamland Golf Club and TPI Level 2 Golf Coach And Fitness Professional
Four keys in all of the greatest pitchers in the game are:
- Sound set-up fundamentals
- Confidence in the ability to use lofted clubs for variety around the greens
- The ability to stabilize the lower body movement when making a short swing while keeping the hands leading the club through impact
- They practice this shot a lot – as much as they can. In Phil Mickelson’s case – every day!
There is no doubt that short game is the foundation of your golf game. Not too many people concern fitness with pitching – as it requires no power – but one of the key fundamentals of fitness in golf is STABILITY – and this plays a key role in your technique around the greens.
My first close up experience of witnessing one of the best pitchers of the ball over the last 25 years – Padraig Harrington – was when I was fortunate enough to practice alongside him a few years back. It was a thing of beauty! Padraig would always encourage me to use LOFT as a friend – not an enemy! Watching Padraig pitch the ball from 30-60 yards and land it on towel-sized targets was very impressive. There was no surprise he was winning Majors during his peak. He could pitch it stiff from any type of lie whether in the rough or from a tight lie on the fairway…
Pitching is one of the most under practiced areas in golf in my opinion and I see many students who get that look of fear when I ask them to play a 30-50 yard pitch shot from the fairway to a target.
#5 Most important of all – get out and practice this shot to grow confidence and feel!
These are two simple BUT EFFECTIVE exercises you can do to improve stability in your pitching technique.
Single Leg Balance
Standing on left leg raise your right knee to hip height, hold arms out by your side and try to maintain balance for at least 30 seconds. Repeat on right side.
Lead Leg Swing – Front Left Pocket To Back Left Pocket
This exercise is slightly more difficult as it requires BALANCE and ROTATION, but is a great drill for lead leg stability to help pitching.
Standing on your left leg raise your right foot and place it behind your body as you try and balance in golf posture. Then start to slowly rotate your upper body while keeping your lower body stable. Repeat the exercise on the opposite leg.
Hopefully your pitching will impress your friends next time you’re out on the course with this advice and training.