Instruction

The Big Play: How to Hit Poulter's Soft Pitch Shot

Who: Ian Poulter What: 95-foot flop shot to six inches for a birdie When: 33rd hole of the final at the WGC-Accenture Match Play ChampionshipWhere: 343-yard par-4 15th hole at Ritx Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, Ariz. Ian-poulter-big-play I don’t like the term “flop shot.” It makes people
get too handsy because they think they need to make radical, flippy
hand motions to get the ball airborne. That makes amateurs tend to
dig the leading edge of the club either into the turf and hit it fat, or they smack
the leading edge into the ball and hit a skull.
Instead, I call the shot an “elevated pitch.” The key
is to understand that the bounce, or flange, on the bottom of the wedge
is your best friend. The bounce makes the club skid or slide along the
turf and under the ball, propelling it up with a high and soft
trajectory.
In the mid-90s, I spent time with Seve Ballesteros
around a practice green and he taught me about the elevated pitch. Seve
pointed out how it’s essential to do two things with the shot at
address: weaken the left hand grip and open the clubface a lot. Then
take a normal stance and a regular swing, but be sure to make an
offensive action by accelerating the club through impact. With a solid
strike, the ball will slide up the face, rather than being compressed,
and it’ll come off soft, like Poulter’s ball did at 15.
There’s no secret drill to learn the elevated pitch.
You’ve just got hit tons of practice shots to get used to having the
weak left hand grip and the club wide open at address. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Tom Patri runs the TP Golf Schools in Naples, Fla.(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

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