Less Hips = Better Pitches

The difference between powering the ball and finessing it is about more than just distance.

Inconsistent pitching doesn’t just plague baseball teams. It torments golfers as well. To execute more consistent pitch shots, understand that the kinematic sequence for a finesse wedge is not the same sequence as a power golf swing. In a power swing, the lower body starts the down swing; in a finesse wedge swing, the club head starts the down swing and the lower body remains passive, with the club head falling down the plane, and the motion controlled by the arms and hands.

You want to release the club head earlier in order to have the proper shaft lean and use the bounce of the sand wedge at impact. If you hold the angle and have too much shaft lean at impact, the sharp leading edge will dig into the ground, and if you hit a quarter inch behind the ball you will chili-dip it. You will have more room for error with the finesse sequence because the wedge sole will bounce or drop kick into the ball and there will be hardly any difference in the distance the ball goes versus a clean strike.

Start releasing the club head, hitting down, and feeling the bounce correctly brushing the ground. If you are still having trouble, make sure the club head is on plane coming into the ball. It’s better to be steep with your club head plane than it is to be shallow.

In the top photo, I am at impact with my weight shifted left, my hips only slightly rotated, with just one to two degrees of forward shaft lean.

Below, after making impact, you can see my hips are only slightly rotated with the club head passing my hands. If this were a power golf swing, my hips would be more rotated in both of these positions and the shaft lean would be more forward.

Here, in the photo below, I am at the finish where my hands and wrists have re-cocked the club vertically. The hip and shoulder rotation is involuntary and just moving and rotating to support the swinging motion of my arms, hands and wrists after impact. The pivot is not the engine.

TIP: To get the feel of this, tee some balls up and hit them with just your right arm and hand with a nice light grip where you can feel the weight of the club head. You’ll see that you don’t use as much hip rotation and use more arm, hand, and wrist. Now hit some with both hands and try to get that feel. If you are still having trouble, make sure your weight is in your lead side, and the club head is on plane coming into the ball. (see below)


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Larry Rinker competed in more than 500 PGA Tour events and is Director of Instruction at Red Sky Golf Academy, Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott. (larryrinker.com; 407-810-7489)