TIGER'S TIP By Tiger Woods with Pete McDaniel, Golf Digest July 11, 2003
Feel: To score your best, learn how to finesse your pitch shots
I often get credit for being able to roast it off the tee, but the long ball can only take you so far in this game. In fact, I owe a lot of my success to a pretty sound short game. Believe me, top players realize the importance of perfecting those little scoring shots. That's where we really put in the sweat.
I work so hard on finesse shots because that's how you develop feel, which is simply the ability to instinctively hit the ball with the proper force for the required distance. In golf, instinct has to be learned.
Feel is very important in pitching because there are so many variables involved in the shot -- lie, distance, contour and speed of the green. The one constant, however, for all good pitchers is the ability to determine the proper landing area so the ball feeds to the hole. Show me a player who flies a pitch into the hole and I'll show you a player who got super lucky.
Work on developing feel and pitching to a specific area. The payoff will be more birdies, par saves and the occasional hole-out, where luck is less a factor than skill.
Find your target, trust your touch.
Part of my preshot routine for pitches is to walk off the distance from the ball to the landing area. That determines the length of my backswing and trajectory of the shot. While walking off the distance I also check the green's grain and get a feel for its contour, not only visually but with my feet. (I do this quickly so I don't hold up play.)
After I form a mental picture of the landing area, the rest is execution. A simple pitch is nothing more than a mini version of the full swing. I let the club (a 56- or 60-degree wedge) do the work. That means picking the club up steeply on my backswing into a natural wrist cock and allowing the clubhead to slide under the ball through impact.
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