Lay-up Shots: Great in Theory, but…


lay upEver heard of the concept of lay-up distances for pitching? The notion that you should attempt to hit your pitch shots to the green from a preferred distance? Great idea in theory.  In practice forget about it.

I know this advice goes against an extremely popular course strategy concept; that if you hit your pitch shots closer to the hole from a particular distance then you should try to hit all your pitch shots from that distance. Ok, makes sense so far…

Here’s where the theory gets into strife.  Almost without exception, the closer to the pin you are the easier it is to hit your pitch shots near the hole.  You will always hit it closer from 30 metres than from 60 metres.

If you have the skill to hit your approach so that it finishes exactly at your preferred distance, then you actually have world-class distance control with your shots.  Who can leave their ball exactly at their preferred pitching distance?  That takes real skill.

I have been using the Shots to Hole round analysis programme for a few years and have looked at data from many players of differing ability levels and all of them hit their shots closer to the pin the closer they are to the green.  No exceptions!

It seems more of a myth that a person has an ideal pitching distance.

Good course strategy says if you can’t hit the green, then leave the ball in a place that will make your next shot easiest.  That means it will be as close to the green as you can hit it provided you avoid rough, bunkers, or other hazards.

If you are practicing your pitching, remember to hit plenty of very short shots – those inside 40 metres – because they are the majority of pitch shots you hit during a round will be inside 40 metres.

Keep your pitching statistics in practice and on the course and notice for yourself where you play those shots from and how close you can get them to the pin.

Too many players practice their pitching from 60- 100 metres.  That might be why they think their ideal lay-up distance is 50 metres … they hit it closer from 50 metres than they do from 70 metres.

So when you are practicing, set out targets at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 metres.  Use your pitching wedge and sand wedge to hit one or two shots to each target and then randomly alter either the target or pitching club.  That way you will refine your feel for these shots from all distances.

I mentioned the Shots to Hole programme earlier in this article. It will easily allow you to track the length of your pitching distances across multiple rounds. It will also show you how close you hit the ball to the pin. I highly recommend this programme. In fact, if you would like to use the programme for a trial period, send me an email and I will organise a complimentary trial.

If you are not getting your pitch shots near enough to the hole, then it might be time to book in for some coaching on your pitching technique.

Let me know how you go with your pitching over the next few weeks.

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