The fellows I play with on the tour frequently tell me that the best tee-to-green shot in my bag, aside from the "Texas wedge," is my pitch shot. It's a little different from most players'. I start the ball out to the right of the flag and try to float it in with a little left-to-right action on it. There's draw on the shot, all right, but it's a soft draw. The ball sits down at least as quick as a fade.
The reason I took to playing my pitches this way goes back to my boyhood. We had a lot of wind in the part of Texas I come from, and it was important to keep your ball low so your shots wouldn't get blown around. You have to hit a fade pretty high—higher than a draw—so I took to drawing the ball. This also tied in with my build. I was never a big fellow and I learned early that on full shots a hook would gobble up a lot more yardage for me.
But, as I say, this pitch shot isn't a hook. It's a soft draw. And it's a very good type of shot for a shorter fellow particularly to play, because he doesn't have to turn as much as a big fellow. On my backswing on this three-quarters delivery my hands don't go too high. There's a shade more inside-out to the swing, but you must be sure to hit the ball down and through and finish the swing. Take some time at the top if you can and, above all, work to be compact. It sounds more complicated than it really is. It comes quite easily, and you can develop a lot of feel with this shot and very regular stroke production.
BILLY MAXWELL, Odessa CC, Texas
NEXT TIP: Bert Nicolls on the start of the downswing