5 steps to pitch it like Tiger Woods (yes, really)

October 5, 2019
Want to learn how to pitch the ball? Take a note (or five) from Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods’ ability to control both distance and trajectory with his wedges is one of the biggest reasons he’s back in contention on a consistent basis. He uses a seemingly endless combination of setups and release patterns — mix-and-match artistry common to all up-and-down machines.

When you compare his current setup and motion to what he employed a year or so ago, there are significant improvements , mostly in the way he addresses the ball. Take the picture below, for example: His rock-solid, athletic stance has given way to an unimpeded motion (and one he can re-create time and again). It’s a great technique that allows any golfer to maximize results around the green while limiting risk. Copy this!

1. UPPER-BODY ENGINE

Notice how tight Tiger’s arms are to his body. This is ideal. And since they’re in so close, it’s up to his body to motor the club back and through. You can see how Tiger has allowed his upper body to rotate through the shot. With this “more body, less arms” technique, it’s easy to trace the proper path both back and through on a perfect semicircle. The result: consistent contact in the center of the sweet spot. Who wouldn’t want that?

Getty Images

2. VARIED APPROACH

Tiger is a master at producing different trajectories and distances by altering the way he both hinges and releases the club from shot to shot. Regardless of how he switches things up, his biceps remain close to his body, giving his swing the same shape time after time. In your short game, consistency is key.

3. STRAIGHT SHOOTING

One of the keys to consistent pitching is using the rounded bottom (bounce) of the wedge to help it glide across the turf rather than digging in and getting stuck. To make this happen, do what Tiger does: Make sure the club is centered at address with the shaft relatively straight up and down. You’ve done it right if, in your release, the grip points near your belly button, just like Tiger’s. No need to aggressively “lean” the shaft toward the target. That eliminates bounce and invites a nasty dig.

4. CLUB LOW, BALL HIGH

Tiger’s ball has popped up nice and high in a relatively short period of time and with seemingly very little effort on Tiger’s part. His secret? Keeping the clubbed low to the ground through the hitting zone for a longer period of time. Pitch shots aren’t chop shots. Think “slide,” not “smash.”

5. GREAT SPACING

Tiger’s posture and setup are perfect here. Copy the way he bends forward from his hip joints. This forward bend allows your arms and hands to hang beneath your shoulders and create the space you need to motion the club unimpeded through the hitting zone.