A Simple Pitch Shot

Eight years ago, I published Better Recreational Golf. Several pages are devoted to a short game shot I call the Hard Chip. This shot is played just like your greenside chipping stroke, the essential feature being no wrist break, but with a much bigger swing. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the Hard Chip functions as a basic pitching stroke.

The pitch is a difficult shot to play, and is one reason why so few recreational golfers I play with pitch the ball very well.

But I found out this wristless stroke is a pitching stroke that can hardly go wrong. All you have to do is take the club back and slide the sole underneath the ball going forward. Because you’re not getting wristy, this is easy to do. The ball pops up and makes a beautiful arc toward the green.

You can hit a Hard Chip with any club from your 7-iron through your lob wedge. Mine goes 105 yards with a 7-iron, 40 yards with a lob wedge.

This video shows how to hit the Hard Chip.

[For some reason, the embedding code to YouTube isn’t working. Use this link instead.]

If you try the shot, it might feel like the club is sticking straight out to the side, though in reality it does arc upward a bit. The key is that your wrists are loose enough that they could break, but you just don’t let them. Locking your wrists doesn’t work out well.

I recommend you take each club in your bag from 7-iron through lob wedge, or whatever you have, and calibrate them. Find out just how far each one goes with a Hard Chip stroke of identical length.

This will revolutionize your pitching game. I promise that you will start getting up and down from distances you didn’t think were possible.

A Flexible Body for Golfers

A few years ago I wrote a post showing five exercises designed to strengthen the core in order to play better and prevent injury.

Flexibility is a big part of an efficient and healthy golf swing, too. Here are five exercises that will keep you limber for golf.

1. Lateral bend — Stand with your feet apart. Bend to the side as shown, supporting yourself with a hand on the leg. Reach over your head with the other arm to complete the stretch.

lateral bend stretch

2. Supine trunk rotation — Lie down on your back and bring your knees up, feet flat on the ground. Rotate your knees to one side, keeping your shoulders in contact with the ground. This the preferred way to rotate the trunk. Rotating the trunk while standing adds compression force to the torque. When you lie down, there is no compression, only torque.

supine trunk rotation

3. Rotator cuff — (1) Bring one arm across your body at shoulder level. Use the other forearm to press inward and complete the stretch. (2) Stand in a doorway with both hands on the doorway as shown. Lean forward for the stretch.

rotator cuff stretch 1

rotator cuff stretch 2

4. Hamstring stretch — Sit on the floor with one leg straight out in front of you. If you can’t tuck your other leg as shown, that’s all right. Lean forward (not down) to complete the stretch.

hamstring stretch

5. Neck stretch — Rotate the head to the left and hold for a few seconds. Do the same to the right side.

neck stretch

You can do all these stretches daily in less than five minutes.

We Visit the U. S. Senior Women’s Amateur

The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur is being played in Portland this week. The final match is scheduled to begin in less than an hour from this posting.

I went to see it yesterday with one of my golfing buddies. The tournament is being played at the Waverly Country Club, a private course located in SE Portland on the east bank of the Willamette River. It’s one of those clubs that you can’t just pay the membership fee and first month’s dues and you’re set to go. Rather if they want you to be member, they’ll let you know.

So I figured the only way I would ever get to prowl the grounds is if there was a tournament there. Fortunately, the USGA likes this course. They sometimes have local qualifying for the U.S.Open on it. Fairways are narrow (the word “ribbon” comes to mind and is accurate), there are numerous deep bunkers, the lay of the land is hilly–level lies in the fairway are hard to find, and the greens–ridges, slopes, you could get seasick walking on them.

We saw the morning quarterfinal matches, and I swear we were the only people out there who were not relatives of the competitors or involved in some way with the tournament. Only four groups on the entire course.

And it was quiet. Real quiet. Just golf balls being hit. No talking. All business.

We saw some outstanding shots, and some beaner shots. But this we did see: straight shots. Maybe off line sometimes, but straight flight. Balls coming into the green right at the pin. Short game OK, putting outstanding. Players taking their time picking their shot, but once they had it, it was get the club, set up, and swing, all in a rhythm oozing confidence and competence.

Every one of the eight players had a swing that was flowing, graceful, smooth, and to the point. And without an ounce of “hit.” It was all swing, and that’s my biggest golfing takeaway from the day.

When the morning matches were over, we left and had lunch nearby. I had a cup of curried corn soup and a summer risotto. Then home. What an outing.

Bob’s Living Golf Book

Bob’s Living Golf Book (PDF), which I have been promising you since June, is finally here. It is my latest effort at bringing better golf into your life. Click the reference on the black bar above this post.

The word “Living” means something. This book will be added to periodically as I develop worthy material. Updates will be announced.

There is still work to be done with this edition, but I wanted to get it up to now. I’ve waited long enough.

Text in red are the really, really important things I want you to get. Really.

All blue links are clickable.

Fake links in red signify videos I will put up as soon as I can film them. Which might or might not be soon from now.

Thank you for being a reader. Play well, and have fun.