The pitching wedge, often overlooked, plays a crucial role in scoring well in golf, despite the driver getting all the attention for hitting the ball far. And consistency is more important than distance when it comes to hitting your PW. So let’s go over the key points on how to hit a pitching wedge.
The pitching wedge (PW) is a versatile club in the golfer’s bag, primarily designed for shots within 100-130 yards of the green, depending on the player’s skill level. While it can be used for a variety of shots around the green, many golfers struggle to utilize its full potential. This guide will break down the process of hitting a pitching wedge effectively.
How To Hit A Pitching Wedge
1. Understanding the Pitching Wedge
Before diving into the mechanics, it’s important to understand the pitching wedge’s design. It typically has a loft between 42 – 48 degrees, making it suitable for higher trajectory shots. This loft helps to provide the necessary height to clear hazards or obstacles and land softly on the green.
2. Setup and Address
- Stance: Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. For a full shot, play the ball in the middle of your stance. If you want to hit a lower trajectory shot, move the ball slightly back in your stance.
- Grip: Hold the club with a neutral grip. The V-shape formed by your thumb and forefinger on each hand should point towards your trail shoulder.
- Posture: Keep your back straight and bend slightly at the hips. Your arms should hang comfortably down.
3. Swing Mechanics
- Backswing: Turn your shoulders and hips while keeping your head still. Your lead arm should be straight, and the club should be roughly parallel to the ground at the top of the swing.
- Downswing: Start by rotating your hips towards the target, followed by your torso. As you swing down, maintain the wrist hinge you created in your backswing for as long as possible. This ensures maximum power and loft.
- Follow-through: Finish with your chest facing the target, and most of your weight shifted onto your lead foot.
4. Distance Control
Unlike drivers or long irons, where maximizing distance is often the goal, control is essential with wedges. To regulate distance:
- 3/4 Swing: For a shot less than the full distance, you can reduce the length of your backswing. Imagine your hands going up to 9 o’clock if you’re a right-handed golfer.
- Choke Down: Holding the club slightly down the grip can reduce distance and offer better control.
5. Ball Flight and Spin
To maximize spin:
- Strike Down: Ensure a descending blow on the ball. This helps increase backspin, making the ball stop quickly on the green.
- Clean Grooves: Dirty or worn-out grooves can reduce spin. Clean them regularly and consider replacing old wedges.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
- Range Sessions: Spend time on the driving range working on different distances with your pitching wedge. Work on consistency, both in swing and in ball strike.
- Short Game Area: Use the chipping and pitching area to practice trajectory control and landing spots.
How Far Should You Hit Your Pitching Wedge?
The distance a golfer can hit a pitching wedge varies based on several factors, including the golfer’s skill level, physical strength, swing speed, technique, and equipment. However, we can provide some general ranges based on different skill levels:
- Beginners or High Handicappers: 60-90 yards
- Average Golfers or Mid Handicappers: 90-110 yards
- Low Handicappers: 110-130 yards
- Tour Professionals: 130-150 yards
Difference Between Using Your Pitching Wedge And Pitching a Golf Ball?
- Pitching Wedge: This is a type of golf club. The pitching wedge (often denoted as “PW”) is one of the wedges in a golfer’s bag and typically has a loft between 44-48 degrees (though this can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and the era of the club). While it’s called a “pitching” wedge, it’s used for a variety of shots, both full swings and partial swings, not just for “pitch” shots.
- Pitching a Golf Ball: This is a type of shot. “Pitching” in golf refers to a shot that has a higher trajectory and is meant to cover a more significant distance in the air relative to its roll on the green. The primary purpose of a pitch shot is to get over an obstacle (like a bunker) and stop relatively quickly on the green. You can use various clubs to pitch a ball, including but not limited to the pitching wedge. Other common clubs for pitch shots are the sand wedge and lob wedge.
The pitching wedge is a vital club for scoring in golf. Like any other skill, regular practice and attention to detail are the keys to proficiency. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, investing time in mastering the pitching wedge will certainly pay off on the course.