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The Chitch Shot

by Donald Crawley

Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

Donald Crawley Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) - Do you know the difference between a chip and a pitch? Send me your answers at dcrawley@luxuryresorts.com and the best one - judged by yours truly - will find a nice gift on its way to him or her. When notified, just send me a shipping address.

The reason I ask is because every other golfer that comes to me and says "Now Donald, 'Oh golf guru (well not everyone says that, but most think that way) tell me, once again, when should I chip and when should I pitch?"

Watch the next tournament on TV and try to identify when the pros are hitting a chip or a pitch. My guess is that you never gave it a second thought, no less a first, until just now.

OK, I?ll give you the answer to the above question because, by nature, I am a good and giving person and this article has little value unless you know.

By definition a chip is a lower running shot, one where the ball spends more time on the ground running than it does flying through the air. Chip means more run less flight.

A pitch shot is one that flies farther through the air than it rolls. This is not a Phil Mickelson flop shot, that is all air and minimum roll but do not think about that since it will just confuse things and you are sufficiently confused as it is.

Charles Howell III
Charles Howell III seen here "chitching" to the hole.
The next question is always "How do I play the chip versus a pitch?" And the next, the killer question that drives me nuts as well as most of the golfers asking it, is "When and how do I cock my wrists on those two shots?"

In order to simplify the game, and please remember I teach 'Golf Simplified', I have rolled the chip and pitch together giving you a go to option every time you face a delicate little shot around or near the putting surface. You can implement this shot from up to 50 yards away from the flag.

Allow me to introduce you to a hybrid shot created, invented, proven and taught by yours truly. The 'chitch' shot. Read on and send me any questions you may have when done.

Chitching is a combination of chipping and pitching. Chipping describes a low running shot. Pitching describes a shot on a higher trajectory with less roll.

Too many people get confused between a chip and a pitch so to save you mental anguish and suffering around the green, I refer to all short shots around the green as a 'chitch.'

The loft of the club will determine the roll of the ball. The length and speed of the swing determines how far the ball flies through the air. How tough is that?

Play all chitches with the ball in the middle of your stance. Aim with the correct loft, leading edge perpendicular to the target, butt end of shaft in-line with the ball. Go on, grab a club and ball, do it and then get back here.

OK, you set it up and are back. Simple so far, right?

Grip and stand as the full swing but make sure your arms ?hang relaxed? from a tall posture. Stance should be narrow, and can be slightly open to the target line.

Lean shaft one-inch forward of the ball [which is called de-lofting] without closing the club face.

OK, you are excused again. Go on, do it. Next time, make a copy of the feature and hold it next to you as you do the step by step approach recommended. But, for now, onward.

Lean your body one-inch forward until your sternum is in line with the club handle. Weight will be 60% on your forward foot. I know that I have lost you here and wanted to call your orthopedic doctor about the aforementioned but not to worry at this point. It will come to you.

The chitching technique is a miniature version of your full swing. The club swings on an arc slightly inside and upward. Arms, hands and shoulders work together. Wrists must be 'soft', and allowed to cock when your hands swing beyond your knees. The length of the arm swing should determine when the wrists cock, just like your full swing.

Your chest or torso must be allowed to turn freely, although your legs are stable on the backswing.

The swing must be symmetrical, meaning equal length back and through. The hips, and then chest, must turn through with the arm swing as you swing the club through the ball. No 'flip' or ?scoop? of the hands allowed here!

The bottom edge of the club strikes the bottom half of the ball. Follow through is back to the inside, leaving your finish facing the target, weight on your front foot, elbows down with arms and club in front of your chest.

The club face must be square to the arc throughout.

If you want a low running shot choose a lower lofted club [5,6,7,8] and swing firmly back and through.

If you want a higher softer shot choose a high lofted club [pitching, gap, sand, loft wedges] and swing longer with some wrist cock or ?soft hands that hinge.?

Visualize the desired shot, trajectory and roll, and imagine you are tossing the ball onto the green and rolling to the hole. The same throwing action will be similar length and pace of the required chitch swing.

You can chitch up to 50 yards. For longer shots you will be applying your regular full swing.

Pitching

By definition a pitch is a shot that flies farther in the air and rolls less on the ground. A pitch shot is a higher flying chitch shot!

More loft creates a higher trajectory and, therefore, less roll. You can pitch with all your wedges from a pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge to a lob, or 60 degree wedge. To use the loft correctly the face must swing square to the arc and plane.

The length of the arm swing controls the carry of the ball through the air. Once the arm swing and the club shaft swing back beyond knee height, the chest and shoulders will be starting to turn. Your trunk starts to rotate, even on a short pitch. As the swing becomes longer, the wrists will be starting to hinge going back and unhinge coming down.

Remember: longer swing, more turn and some wrist cock. Keep your grip pressure light and the hands and arms soft.

Once the shot demands a carry of the ball over 20 yards in the air, most people will need at least half of a full swing.

In summary: The pitch swing will become a mini-swing of your regular full swing.

Pitching allows you to work on your basic full swing motion without getting confused between a chip and a pitch. Remember that a pitch is a longer swing with a higher shot than a chip.

Club loft selection controls height and trajectory, and, therefore, the roll of the ball. Length and pace of the swing controls the distance the ball flies through the air. The ball will stop or check on the green with spin if you strike the bottom of the ball with the leading edge of the wedge.

Donald Crawley
Donald Crawley

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at dcrawley@luxuryresorts.com.


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