Instruction

Hit Smooth Pitches

Photo: AP

<strong>Do you know any pro golfers who have used performance-enhancing drugs?</strong><br /> Yes: 6%<br /> No: 94%<br /><br />

This story is for you if...
• You have trouble hitting crisp pitch shots.
• Your pitch attempts often travel too far or too short.
• You sometimes shank your pitches.

The skill you need
All great pitchers have excellent tempo, which is why they look so smooth when hitting short-game shots. To pitch it close, a quick, jerky motion isn't going to get the job done.

How to get it
At home: Make practice pitch swings using a dumbbell. (I'm using a 20-pound dumbbell because that's the combined weight of your arms and club, but any weight will do.) Sense how heavy your arms feel as they hang at address and how it's nearly impossible to move your arms quickly when you begin your swing. That teaches you to make a smooth, unhurried backswing—an absolute must for good tempo. On the downswing, allow the weight to fall in response to gravity without adding any extra force.

On the course: Replace the heavy feel of the dumbbell with the weight of your club and again make a slow backswing and use gravity to smoothly pull your arms down. If you need to pitch the ball farther, make a longer backswing, but keep the same tempo.

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