Setup Reminder: Chipping So much of the short game is about setup technique. If the setup positions don’t make sense to you, just memorize them, particularly the correct ball position. Eventually, it will make perfect sense and become intuitive. Setup matters. A lot.
Setting up for chipping requires three adjustments to our normal setup. 1) Ball position is slightly back of center, 2) Weight is 70% on our front foot and 3) Hands are ahead of the clubhead, more than normal. All of these help promote a downward blow on the ball and LOW ballflight.
Setup Reminder: Pitching Many people use the terms “chip” and “pitch” interchangeably. I use the term chip to mean a low, running shot, and the term pitch to mean a high, lofted shot. I don’t really care what you call the shots; I care that you know how to make the ball fly low or high, when you want it.
Pitching, to me, is a high shot. As in all short game shots, setup is key: 1) Ball position is center to slightly forward – beware of the inclination to move the ball too far forward. There is a point of diminishing returns which can lead to sculling. 2) Weight is neutral or balanced, much like the full swing setup. 3) Hands are neutral, which is to say, slightly ahead of the clubhead at address, or inside your front thigh.
Whenever possible, I try to use a “non-release” finish for this shot, Which is to say, on the back swing, I hinge, set my wrists, then maintain that set through impact and focus on body rotation to finish the swing. This is a more predictable shot than a full-release finish – less margin for error.
Setup Reminder: Pitching from a fluffy Lie I have more options for pitching when my ball is sitting up a bit. The tradeoff, of course, is that a better player would prefer to be on a tight lie to create more spin. Fluffy lies tend to be the preference of higher handicap players – much more forgiveness through the ball.
If I want the ball to go very high, the fluffy lie allows me to open the clubface as dramatically as I want, sometimes going so far as to lay it flat on the ground, with the face up to the sky. When I do that, I always need to remember to open my stance to offset the open clubface, otherwise the ball will squirt to the right (for a right-y, left for a lefty). I also have the option of taking a big hinging swing, a la Phil Mickelson. But remember – the more moving parts, the harder it is to get the clubface back into the correct position at impact. The big hinging swing is a high risk, high reward shot.