The secret of scoring on the pro tour is getting down in two shots when you're about a hundred yards from the green. The average club golfer has more modest demands. He doesn't expect to get down in a pitch and a putt very often, but he would like to be able to pitch well enough so that he has a crack at a one-putt green every now and then and can at least count on regularly hitting the green with his pitch. He doesn't always do that, you know. A good many times when he scoops his shot the ball lands short and expires on the apron. Other times, when he tries to put a little punch into his shot, he pulls or pushes it far off the line. These particular errors are hard for him to take because the pitch shot doesn't require a full and powerful swing, as driving does or true finesse, as trouble shots do. The pitch is one shot he thinks he ought to be able to handle pretty well.
I believe in learning a standard pitch that is a swinging stroke as opposed to a slapping hit. The concept the player should have is that this shot is quite similar to the way you toss a ball underhand: just direct the right arm and hand toward the target. On the short pitch there's no body turn to speak of—you use your left side far less than you do on a full swing. As for your right arm and hand, you shouldn't think of them until you're coming down into the ball. Then they swing through the ball together and go right on out toward the target. There isn't an easier shot to learn or a more reliable one.
AL MENGERT, Echo Lake CC, Westfield, N.J.
NEXT TIP: Lionel Hebert on the pivot in driving