The ability to consistently pitch the ball close to the hole will improve any player's scoring. But you have even more to gain since you're often short of greens and dependent on your short game for lower scores.
Successful pitching involves more than knowing the mechanics. Many players can loft the ball high and land it softly on the green with their wedge, yet don't get it as close to the hole as they'd like. What they need to do is target their pitches: Instead of concentrating only on where they want the ball to finish -- near the hole -- they must learn to consider where on the green they should make it land.
Imagine driving to a fairway that slopes severely right to left. If you want the shot to finish in the fairway, your main concern is where the ball lands so it rolls down the slope and into the center. You should plan pitch shots the same way, making the spot the ball lands on your primary concern. If you can determine correctly the best place to land the ball and know how to hit it to that spot, you'll get close more often.
Pick Your Target Area
Most short shots played with a pitching or sand wedge will travel roughly two-thirds of the way in the air, the other third on the ground. Your primary target should be about two-thirds of the way to the hole; land the ball there, and it should roll the rest of the way.
Don't forget to consider slope. On an upslope, the ball won't roll as far, so you'll have to cover more of the distance in the air. Conversely, hitting onto a downslope creates more roll, so you need less air time. Survey the ground between ball and hole and determine whether you need more or less carry or whether the slope of the green requires you to land the ball to the right or left of the cup.
Drill: Two Target Scorecard
To help yourself zero in on a specific landing area for short pitches, try the following drill. Pick a spot just off the practice green to pitch from. Determine a spot about 2/3's of the distance between the ball and the cup. Mark the spot by laying a scorecard there and pushing a tee through it into the green to hold it in place. Practice hitting to this specific target. Move to different places to pitch from, each time determining your target area and moving the card. During a round imagine your target on the green and aim for it.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.