“Make Me Better” – The Mid-Range Pitch

    April 12, 2010 Stan Utley 838 13 Comments

    In its April 2010 issue, Golf Digest kicked off Make Me Better, a season long instruction series that will run both in the magazine and on the Golf Digest web site.  Hank Haney got the ball rolling last month with a guide to hitting greens. But, as evidenced by Phil Mickelson’s victory at the 2010 Masters yesterday, even the best players in the world occasionally miss greens…it’s how you execute those shots that can make the difference between winning and losing. Phil displayed his short-game prowess yesterday on a couple of different occasions as he cruised to a three-shot win.

    In this month’s edition of Make Me Better, I’ll cover a sore spot for most players – the mid-range pitch. Back in late January, I was at my home course, Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, with the Golf Digest crew shooting photos for this article. I always enjoy these days because, as you already know, I am very passionate about teaching and showcasing these drills for all of you. But, it also gives me a chance to brush up on my own game.

    I thought you’d enjoy reading the article in the attached file. The photos throughout the article capture the necessary body and hand positions to effectively pull off these shots. If you haven’t already, stop by your local bookstore and grab a copy of the May issue of Golf Digest. I think you’ll recognize the guy trying to help your game on page 110! If you ever have any questions, feel free to send me your comments and I will do my best to respond promptly.

    click here for downloadable/printable PDF of the article

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    13 Comments Leave New
    Josh April 14, 2010

    Stan,

    I really liked the article, especially the leg action portion. It really is a mini swing.

    My question is more on the putting. Would you be willing to post different angles of your putting stroke. For example sraight on, down the line and over head. I think this would really be beneficial to see how the putter moves along the path from the different vantage points.

    Again thanks for all the great information on here and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,
    Josh

    Reply
      Stan Utley April 25, 2010

      Josh…as we head into the Arizona summer after Memorial Day, my schedule will allow me to have my team take some more photos from various angles so you can better see my set-up, stroke and follow-through. We’ll be able to shoot some videos for posting as well. Great suggestion…thanks.

      Stan

      Reply
    Tony May 28, 2010

    Found this article really good. Im a 2 handicap golfer and have been struggling with my pitching for the last couple of years. I had never cme across the closed stance concept for pitching was always taught by the experts such as Leadbetter to play it with clubface and body about thirty degreees open. This led to me constantly struggling with duffs thin pitches. However with Stans technique I am now hitting my pitches so consistently I am an unrecognisable pitcher. Perfect clean connection every time with a sufficient amount of spin.

    Great Article Thanks!

    Reply
      Stan Utley May 28, 2010

      Tony…thanks so much for the positive feedback. It means a lot to me to know that my advice is helping you play better, and hopefully having more fun on the golf course.

      Best,

      Stan

      Reply
    Noel Hartough June 9, 2010

    Stan
    Having been working with your chipping and pitching and bunker techniques, pitching is the one part of the book and the my content video I struggle with.
    With chipping, I do well by “cheating the face”. For me on chipping, the club moves back first, to the inside, with the face “cheating” then by body pivots a little. Then I just come through with the knees.
    Sometimes it feels like more hands and club, and sometimes more pivot.

    With Pitching, when for example I try to add loft to the chip stroke by not cheating the face on the way back, or even allowing the face to open a little, I typically end up with more leading edge on the strike than I should have. Even when I really try to swing more left and around on the through stroke.

    I think the thing about the pitch swing is that you do have to sync your pivot with your wrists and club. I went back and revisited the video this morning and I think perhaps my wrist action is the culprit for that leading edge grabbing on the pitch.

    You show a pronounced side hammering motion with the right wrist while keeping the palm more up. I may not be doing that with palm up.

    The interesting thing is that I can hit a bunker-like shot, where I feel as if I am moving my arms immediately backwards and narrow like a bunker shot, and then release the club, and I hit really high pitches that are solid- it’s just that I can’t seem to find the middle ground, like a head-high toss pitch.

    Another thing I have noticed is that after time, it’s easy to take the whole bottle of aspirin on the weight left at address. With too much of your weight on the left foot, you actually end up having to counter balance with shoulder and spine angle changes just stay balanced.
    Is it fair to say that it’s ok to feel a little like you sort of lightly launch off that front foot and then really pivot on the left leg? I guess like a very tightly controlled pivot where you don’t really keep everything 100% on the left leg the whole time, but are just very left side focused. Hope that makes sense.

    Anyway, you are awesome for making yourself available to us minions.

    If I can ever convince my wife, I hope to come see you in person.

    Noel

    Reply
    Hector July 10, 2010

    Stan, I’m finding your book and articles very helpful. However, I wish I could see a video to support The Art of Scoring. Is there anything available for purchase?

    Reply
      Stan Utley July 25, 2010

      Hector,

      My team is working on some good video options that will make it easy to download instructional videos. Our previous effort with MyContent.com appears to be have taken a chunky divot…it’s website has been offline a few weeks. Stay tuned…we are working on a longer-lasting solution.

      Best,

      Stan

      Reply
    Brother Dave July 10, 2010

    Stan,

    Can’t thank you enough for sharing your techniques. It’s taken a while to sink in, but I’m really getting it now. Here’s the thing: I’m much more relaxed, confident and having fun again. A missed green is now a great opportunity to hone my new short game.

    Reply
      Stan Utley July 25, 2010

      Brother Dave,

      Thanks for the great news about your game improvements. Golf is lot more fun when you are seeing those little things get better. Being relaxed and confident over a putt, bunker shot or short chip are all important ways to do better scoring. Taking the practice range mentality out to the course is a good thing…that is, constant improvements, one shot at a time!

      Best,

      Stan

      Reply
    Jerry Mosere July 28, 2010

    Stan

    I have noticed that the practice putting green is the loneliest place on the golf course. If putting makes up 45% of our strokes in a round I wonder why we don’t practice more. Could it be that the only feedback is that the putt was made or missed?

    Feedback at the moment of contact lets me feel every muscle that twitched or froze causing me to miss the putt. A good putting stroke properly aimed can produce hundreds of putts in a row made from 6 feet.

    Jerry

    Reply
    Neil September 13, 2010

    Stan:

    Just wanted to say a big thanks! I have purchased your three books and read and re read them numerous times. After 9 months of total commitment to your method I am happy to report my handicap has gone from a 15 to a current 9. The hardest shot for me to get used to was the bunker method but I constantly practise this and am seeing positive results.

    Thanks again,

    Neil

    Reply
      Stan Utley November 30, 2010

      Neil…it’s gratifying to hear that your hard work and patience are paying off. It’s one of my biggest thrills to see players at all levels improve and have more fun. Congratulations on your efforts.

      Stan

      Reply
    John April 18, 2011

    Dear Stan,

    I am reading your 3 books ‘The Art of ….’ and am finding them very useful, and am looking forward to your next book. Your way of explaining the reason behind things is great.

    You mention that your SW is 58/12, and that your PW and GW are 48* and 53* Loft Angle respectively. Could you tell me what Bounce Angle you have on these two clubs?

    Also, I realize that there is more to Bounce than just Bounce Angle; ie. sole width, sole camber and sole grind. I notice that some people use the term Effective Bounce Angle to try and incorporate these parameters. In terms of your wedges, as well as the actual Measured Bounce Angle of each club, could you give me an idea of the overall degree of bounce of each club, taking into account the sole width, sole camber and sole grind?

    Could you include the interesting case of your 58* wedge? You mention that Bob Vokey has given this club a different grind near the heel- I gather he has reduced the Bounce in this region of the club?

    Many thanks, John

    Reply