If you’re having an issue hitting your sterling iron’s pitches a little bit fat and heavy, and you’re just dumping them short of the degree and then getting yourself in trouble, then I’ve got five things there that can hopefully help you out and get you making a little bit better contact on those pitches and get you just playing better.
So, the first thing is a technical thing here. So, oftentimes, in golf instruction, we’re taught to have the shaft leaned pretty far forward, and that’s okay, you can hit good shots like that and there’s no shortage of players that can hit shots like that, but from what this does with the club here is, when you look at the clubface as it comes down to the bottom of the club and it goes under to the bounce here, there’s this leaning edge, and the more you have the shaft forward, the higher chance or higher propensity, I guess I should say, that this club can dig and grab into the ground. So, for pitch shots in particular, I like to see people come through with a little bit more shaft vertical like this rather than forward because when you do that, it’s going to expose a little bit of the bounce there, so this underside, this curved underside of the club, so when you come through vertical like that, it gives you a little protection, so you actually can hit it a tiny bit fat and this club, the balance is going to keep it from digging, whereas if you have the shaft forward, then the leaning edge will grab and it’ll just catch too much ground and the club will stall in the ground before it gets to the ball. So, that’s the first thing I would say, is to watch the amount of shaft lean. It’s probably better, the better pitchers in the world – again, you can find exceptions, but as a generalization, better pitchers come through with a little bit more shaft vertical, so that’s the first thing.
Second thing is to stand tall when you’re playing these shots. There’s a thing that Mike Austin, one of my original teachers and mentors used to say, this point where your shoulders, neck, and spine come together on your vertebrae here, the C7 vertebrae, he called it the swing circle center, and wherever that is in the space, that’s going to dictate the low point, the bottom of your swing arc. So, if you are over here, the bottom of the arc is going to be over here; if you’re over here, the bottom of the arc is going to be over here; if you get down the bottom there, it’s going to go down; if you raise up, the arc is going to go high, so if you’re hitting a little bit fat, stay pretty tall so that when you are extending your arms down and holding the club, that when you have the shaft and the club straightened like that, then stand high enough that as long as you stay at that height, you’re high enough that you can’t hit it fat. So, that would be the second thing I would say, is just to stand tall and that kind of blends into this next point, is to sweep it, to pick it, collect the ball. Don’t try and hit down real hard, don’t try and take a divot. The best pitchers in the world, again, guys like Steve Stryker, Zach Johnson, those type of guys, they don’t take a lot of divot; they’re collecting it, sweeping it, picking it, brushing the ground, and you’re starting to see this a little bit more. Now that this observation has been made and the instruction world has kind of caught on, the players are catching on, now, you’re starting to see a lot more top players do that. So, if you see some videos of some guys pitching, notice that on their short little pitch shots here, most of the time, they’re just brushing the ground and just scraping it, not digging a big graveyard in the ground there. So, that would be the next thing I would say.
And then, the last thing is to watch your ball position. So, generally, I would say to maybe have the ball positioned – and again, I kind of equate it to where the swing circle center is, so you probably don’t want to have it back of your stance or back of this swing circle center, the C7 vertebrae because when you do that, then the more you move the club back, the more this leaning edge gets exposed and the more the shaft goes forward. Again, we’re talking about hitting pitch shots fat here, so you’re increasing the likelihood of hitting them fat by doing that, so you probably want to have the club, the shaft basically pretty well even with your C7 vertebrae and maybe the ball just a tiny, tiny bit before that, or if you want just a tiny bit of shaft lean, have the ball right in the center so that you don’t really have too much shaft lean, so that you’re setting up and being in a position where you’re not exposing the leaning edge, you’re catching it right at the bottom of the swing arc, and you’re sweeping and picking, and collecting it.
So, those are the things I would point out for you that hopefully can help. Watch the amount of shaft lean, don’t have too much forward shaft lean, stand tall, keep your C7 vertebrae up so that as long as you stay up, then you’re not going to hit it fat, and then that also kind of blends into sweeping and picking, and collecting the ball which also relates to the ball position, keep it pretty well in the center, maybe just even a tiny bit forward so that the shaft is coming back through pretty vertical or just a tiny, tiny bit forward.
So, those are the things I would tell you if you’re catching your pitches fat with your sterling irons. Put those things into practice, give those things a try, work on those a little bit, hopefully it’ll help, and yeah, it will hopefully improve your pitching.