The Dreaded 40-60 Pitch Shot


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A few days ago I played a round at Arizona Grand Golf Resort. Although they don't have much in the way of a driving range, it is one of my favorite courses to play. They do, however, have an nice area to practice your chipping, pitching, and putting before your round, of which, I should have taken better advantage.

I drove the ball pretty well, but problems arose when I was left with a second shot of between 40-60 yards. I hear it all the time that this is one of the hardest shots in golf, and after this round, I'm not going to argue.

I ended up shooting an 82, but there were four or five situations that if I had executed the shot better from this distance, I probably would have shot a 75. Like we talked about in my post about the fairway bunker shot, this is a shot that most golf courses don't have the facilities to practice such a shot. It can become very nerve racking when faced with a shot that is unfamiliar.

Being able to execute this shot is what will have me consistently in the 70's. I'm driving the ball well. My full shots into the green are improving, and I am not 3-putting as much. When I hit the green in regulation, I am averaging 1.8 strokes, which all but guarantees that I make a par.

I found the following video with a swing thought that I think I can grasp. I've stated before that I am more of a feel player, and the technique described goes along with that philosophy. Hopefully I can start to see improvement in this area. It may be the only thing that is holding me back from getting into the single digit handicap range.

If you have any thoughts, drills, or even your own frustrations with this shot, feel free to share them. Those of you who have set goals, and are really trying to improve, know the frustration that comes from struggling with a part of your game that may be holding you back. But I am convinced that if we take it one step at a time, we will get better. Have a great round and always hit your target. – Book Your Tee Time Today!

Comments (8)

  1. September 21, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    I have struggled with this shot before. I agree with the video and the importance of keeping the left arm close to the body.

    I also find it important to also commit to the shot and complete your follow through. It can be easy to quit on the shot when playing these type of little half shots.

  2. September 21, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Hey Troy. I think this is where I sometimes falter. I get so caught up with not hitting it over the green, I end up leaving it short. The course that I talked about in this post has a lot of drop offs into the desert which would be nearly impossible to recover from. It really plays on the mind and my confidence. Trying to remember to focus on the desired result instead of all that could go wrong.

  3. September 21, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Well Dexter, the easiest way to get better at this shot is to avoid it all together! Were you left with shots from this yardage due to layups?

    Personally I think the key to this shot is to play it with a slower, softer swing and to focus on rotating the trunk. Doing so helps relieve the tension of hitting a shot your not comfortable with. It's a shot that needs to be played softly because it's much easier to control the strike, distance ad spin. If played too hard then the ball will need much more room to bounce and spin hard (due to lower trajectory) which not many players have the ability to do.

    I always have a visual or Ernie Els hitting this shot.

    If anyone has problem with these shots, has a membership or plays a lot of golf on quieter courses, you can head out to a hole and drop 5-10 balls for practice.

  4. September 21, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    How's it going Jordan? There were four or five occasions when I was faced with this distance. A couple were because I hit a poor second shot on par fours and I was trying to get up and down to save par. The others happened because I hit driver off the tee when it really called for a 3-wood which would have left me with a 100 yard shot for my second, which I am comfortable hitting.

    The problem is, I can't hit my 3-wood. So it's either hit my hybrid which might leave me with a 170-180 shot or hit driver and be left with the 40-60 yard shot. I'd rather be closer to the green and take my chances. Unfortunately, it sometimes blows up in my face.

    I have been working with Mike Southern of the Ruthless Golf Blog, but with the extreme heat of the summer in Phoenix and my work schedule, I haven't been able to practice what he has told me in order to improve my skills with the 3-wood.

    As soon as I get better with this club, I think I will take it to the next level. The weather is beginning to cool down, so I will be practicing more very soon.

    I do like Ernie and his soft hands. It's something that I try to emulate, but sometimes I get to lazy and duff it, leaving it way short of the green. Puts a lot of pressure on my putting to try and save par or even bogey.

  5. September 22, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    You know what's coming, Dex. I'm doing a post about this Friday. ;-)

    BTW, Jordan's right about avoiding this shot if it's a problem -- that's what most of the pros tend to do. But it's such an easy shot once you know what to do that it's a shame not to play it. I feel I can get a 60-yarder closer than a full wedge anytime.

  6. September 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    @Mike-I seriously think that if I can handle shots from this distance, I will be able to shoot in the mid 70's. It is so frustrating when I hit a perfect drive and then shank my second only to end up with a double bogey. It takes every ounce of positive energy I can muster up to forget about it and move on to the next hole.

  7. September 26, 2011 at 7:40 PM


    Mike is right, when you get the hang of this shot, you will find it easy and have more confidence to hot driver and play a very aggressive style of golf.

    I have the same problem as you. Lay back off the tee to a yardage I am not very good at or take my chances with the closer shot. Everytime I say "Get it as close to the green as you can!".

    Your hot weather is needed up here. Fall is setting in and the rains are coming down.

  8. September 29, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    @Jordan-I took your advise yesterday. We had a three group wait on number 17, so after we finished the hole, I went back to about 60 yards, dropped some balls down, and practiced for a while. There was no one behind us so I was able to hit about twenty. Getting a bit better.