We are going to start this feature on pressure-proof pitching tips with the number one mistake golfers make. If your backswing is too long when you pitch, you will instinctively start decelerating through impact – this is a natural reaction. As it reaches the ball, the club is moving too slowly and it gets caught in the turf causing a heavy strike. So, a great place to start any practice sessions focused on pitching is to ensure that, however far you are looking to hit the ball – from short 40-yard pitches to longer 100-yard ones – your backswing and follow through are the same length. This will really help the consistency of your strikes and distances when you pitch.

Rory McIlroy Pitching Tips

Wedge line-up

When you face a shot from inside 100 yards, you are in the scoring zone. Get it right and you’ll set up an easy birdie or save a great par, get it wrong and the damage might be hard to undo. This is why it’s worth carrying a number of wedges to help you in this crucial area. Your pitching wedge will have around 46˚ loft and your sand wedge will have around 56˚. This 10˚ space can be filled with a gap wedge and you also may want to consider carrying a lob wedge of around 60˚. Whatever you decide think about how often you face shorter, tricky shots on the course and how an extra wedge or two in the bag at the expense of a lesser used longer club might really help you score better.

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Clock face drill

The best players from inside 100 yards know exactly how to hit different distances. You can try and do this purely through feel but in my experience it really helps to work on the clockface pressure-proof pitching tips theory. The idea is simple, at address your arms and the clubface are pointing at 6 o’clock. Hit a series of shots swinging back to 8 and through to 4 o’clock. Note down how far the average shot goes. Then do the same swinging your arms back to 9 and through to 3 and repeat for 10 to 2. This will give you a collection of yardages you can hit with each of your wedges.

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Grip change

Another approach worth trying is to hit some shots with your hands down the grip a fraction. Crucially, whether you are changing the length of the swing or altering where your hands are on the grip (or both), you must try to keep your rhythm the same for every shot you hit. The more you practise these pressure-proof pitching tips, the more confidence you will carry with you onto the golf course and the more accurate you’ll be!

Flight control

The final element to consider is your trajectory control. There will be occasions when a higher or lower flighted approach will help you access certain pin placements. Some work on this in practice will help you know exactly what to expect. To hit your pitches a fraction lower, move the ball back in your stance a little and place more weight on your front foot so the handle of the club is ahead of the ball. This de-lofts the club through for a lower flight – notice the divot I am taking through impact and how the hands are leading the club here. For a higher flighted pitch move the ball into the middle of your stance so your hands are directly above the ball at address. This increases the loft at impact for a little extra height.