I recently had the pleasure of working with two very good friends who are also very talented PGA Tour players: D.A. Weibring and his son, Matt. During this fun coaching session I asked Matt to hit a number of 14-yard pitch shots with his eyes closed. D.A. chuckled. “Matt,” he said, “there are a lot of instruction theories out there, but only from Pelz will you hear that you need a 14-yard pitch shot.” I mention this because it comes straight from my research, which shows that what was true for D.A. when I first started working with him years ago is true for young Matt today.
Research shows that the most frequent leave distance after missing a green is about 6 to 8 yards from the edge of the putting surface. In many cases golfers must carry this shot an additional 6 to 8 yards onto the green before letting the ball roll to the hole. This happens over a wide handicap range, including professionals. Hence my interest in Matt’s 14-yard pitch technique.
I believe pros need to “own” this shot to the extent that they can hit it with their eyes closed. Try it using an X-wedge (64°), and stop the club when the shaft gets parallel to the ground in your backswing. Then accelerate down and through the ball and stop your motion when the shaft is straight up and down in your follow-through. This club/swing combination generates a 14-yard carry, a soft trajectory and ample backspin.
You can use a lob, sand or pitching wedge with this swing to fly the ball a little lower, carry it a little shorter and roll it out a little longer. But get it right, because playing solid 14-yard pitches is a sure way to lower your handicap—and you’ll use it in every round you play.
This article first appeared in the March 2012 issue of Golf Magazine. The March issue is on newsstands and the tablet version is available for free for magazine subscribers on iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Learn more