This week’s tip comes from Brian Bain, the former head professional at the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course in Brookline. Bain is now the PGA of America’s player development regional manager for Boston. He writes:
“The transition from a chip shot to a pitch shot can be made in a simple way. A chip shot has less ‘air time’ than a pitch shot. So the purpose of a pitch is to achieve a higher trajectory. You can do this by changing the position of the ball in your stance. By playing the ball in the middle of the stance you will help add loft to the club. On a chip shot, the ball is back in the stance and the hands are forward. Only the arms are swinging from the shoulders, making the chip shot a one-lever stroke.
“Pitching is a two-lever stroke. To accomplish this, there is a small wrist break on the backswing. Make sure you finish the shot just as you did with chipping, with no wrist break on the follow-through. An easy way to remember pitching is ‘arms and hands back and only arms through.’ With the additional wrist break and changing the ball position, these shots will carry farther and achieve the higher trajectory we are looking for.
“This question came to me recently: How many different clubs would you recommend the average amateur use around the greens? I have heard advice that one should get real comfortable with one club. Others argue you should use everything from a lob wedge to a 3-wood. What method would you recommend to the average golfer and if you recommend using multiple clubs, any rule of thumb for when to use an 8-iron vs. a sand wedge?
“I am a firm believer that the average golfer should have one swing and vary the club depending on the distance. Just like when you are out in the fairway approaching a green, depending on your yardage you know what club to use. I might not go so far as using all the clubs in the bag for the average golfer, but I would get comfortable with about four or five of them. When you use only one club around the greens it is very hard to judge how far back to bring the club in the backswing; what happens to the average golfer is they tend to bring the club back too far and when they realize this they often decelerate and hit a chunky shot. As far as when to use which club . . . that comes with practice!’’
Brian Bain won the PGA of America’s national President’s Plaque in 2011 for his grow-the-game initiatives, and is a US Kids Top 50 Master Kids Teacher. Are you having specific problems with your game and want a local PGA professional to provide some helpful tips? E-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.