Pitch perfect with Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington

In this video we cover some pitching similarities at the top level. What we can see in both of these cases is some similarities in how the blade is set that looks already before you even watch their action, that they are playing a high softer shot.

So, that in itself is quite a difficult shot to teach the average golfer anyway, just due to their general swing tendencies, but what we can see is how similar their actions are at the top of the game, but with two distinctively different golf swings.

What you have here is Harrington on the right and Els on the left, two very different golf swings, but lots of things that look identical here.
First things first, what you can see with both of them is that they load up a little bit of weight in to their left side just ever so-slightly at address. Stance is pinched in a little bit, so in each case their feet are around about one-club heads length apart.

You can see that the weight is loaded just ever so slightly under the left foot. If they were standing on a set of scales under each foot, the left scale or the scale on the left hand-side of their stance would just be reading a little bit more of load underneath that foot than the right.
So, you can see already then that I’ve drawn a line here from the shirt buttons, the shirt buttons are over the back-edge of the golf ball as a minimum requirement. I quite like to see those shirt buttons in line with the front-edge of the ball, but nonetheless they are playing a higher shot, so you would like to see that back just a touch. But generally speaking, they’re playing off a tight lie and blade is already set to an open position.

Now, if you watch Els here on the left, the most distinct thing about his action is how early he turns his chest through to the target. If you look at the peak on his cap and the shirt buttons on his polo shirt, you can see that they are moving out in front of the golf ball early, so you can see here that the rotation is coming from the chest, the legs are very quiet and the chest and eyes are looking out in front of the golf ball very early.

Now I often think this is a great way to get people to keep turning through the shot, and what we tend to find is the old adage; ‘keep the head down’, is an absolute nightmare when it comes to chipping and pitching, because what happens is the spine and the sternum start to pinch or lean away. The low-point moves before the golf ball and the low-point is governed by where we align the sternum.

So you can see here that he has kept his sternum on top of the golf ball and now look at the clubs interaction with the turf. Look where the club bites the ground, it’s right underneath the golf ball, because he’s kept his sternum over it.

Now of course there are ways in which you can mess around with that. If you start moving the handle back and forward you will then mess around with where the club bottoms out. But generally speaking here, he has returned his hands back to where they were at address. So there’s his address position, kept his sternum on top of the ball, kept his weight very static and his hands have returned back to that position he pre-set at address.

If you watch Harrington chokes down on the club a little bit more than Els, but nonetheless, keeps his weight in the left-side, turns the chest through, keeps the peak of his cap a little bit more stable, but you can still see here he’s turned his chest through to that target very early. And for me, I see huge similarities here in that the legs are incredibly quiet, set-up his pre-setting impact, so no real differences there, all they’ve done is bring that blade back in, and then look at how as he hits this golf ball it’s as though he’s hitting it with the back-edge of the club on the ground, so he slams the back-edge of the wedge on to the turf and there’s no divot.

And that’s a very good way of getting somebody to understand how to use the bounce and not the leading-edge. So, in both of these cases, the back-edge of the club, the back-edge of the wedge, the bounce of the club is striking the turf not the leading-edge, and what that is going to do is the rounded sole will stop the club going underground and allow you to maintain the loft on the golf club.

So, a nice little exercise would be to stand with your feet close together, keep your sternum on top of the golf ball, feel that there is very little lateral movement and make a swing where you get the back-edge of the club to bottom out on the turf and just turn the chest through to the target early.

And that in itself will just help you to understand the importance of rotating and not trying to squeeze the club down in to the golf ball. You just rotate and collect the golf ball, and just allow the back-edge of the club to bottom out nicely.

So, in both of these cases, very similar techniques, sternum on top of the ball, a little bit of weight in the left side, nice early rotation of the chest and you can then see from that back-edge of the club hits the ground and there’s a nice little turn early-on in to the finish position.
Nice similarities there, something in which I’m sure in which if you looked at just one asset, one of those, focused on one of those little areas, I think that would help you just improve your pitching and chipping through these winter months. No-end.

I hope you enjoyed these technical pointers, if you need any more information or would like any clarification, or any help with your own game, send me an email at Gareth@GarethJohnstonGolf.com and I look forward to seeing you soon.