Do you have difficulty hitting crisp pitch shots that stop close enough for a realistic one-putt? If not, and you routinely take a divot behind the ball, or you try to pick them clean, I can help you. Hitting behind the ball puts too much grass between it and the clubface, while picking it cleanly produces a lower trajectory off the bottom edge of your wedge with little or no backspin.
The next time you practice try my “brush the grass” drill. Before you hit your first shot, make at least 20 pitch swings without a ball and look at your divot after every one. Make sure your wedge smacks the ground on each attempt, but doesn’t dig into it. If you think about “brushing” the grass, you’ll feel your wedge kiss off the ground at the bottom of each swing. In 20 tries you should be able to make your divot look like the bottom photo at right, where the grass is brushed (scuffed) but no dirt is taken from the ground. After you complete the drill, continue to practice your pitches, making a good “brush” practice swing before you hit each shot, until the real shot leaves only the same kind of brushed-grass divot. When you do this correctly, you’ll see crisp ball contact on or about the third or fourth groove up the face of your wedge, a nice amount of backspin and makeable putts.
Take it to the course: When you’re in a pitch situation on the course, call up the brushed-grass image and lay your wedge clubface slightly open so the sole bounce can brush the ground. Then, make three practice “brush” swings. Make sure your grip is light and relaxed (but not floppy loose). If the leading edge of your wedge keeps taking dirt divots, open the face a little more. When you’ve successfully “brushed” the grass two consecutive times without a divot, move in and immediately pitch the ball onto the green with the same swing.
6/2 The number of tournaments Tiger Woods competed in on the 2008 PGA Tour, and his spot on the 2008 money list. That means he won an average of $962,500 every time he played in a Tour event — his best money/event ratio year ever. Over his career, Tiger has won $82,354,376 in 225 official events, or $366,020 per tournament — not a bad memory for soothing his feelings as he recovers from his knee injury. I can’t wait to see if his swing’s earning power continues to grow.