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The Key to the Perfect Pitch Shot is All in the Details

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on
Jesse Mueller hits onto the tenth green during the third round of the 54th PGA Professional Championship.

Jesse Mueller hits onto the tenth green during the third round of the 54th PGA Professional Championship.

The 8th Hole on the Foothills course at the Omni Barton Creek resort is one of the most difficult the 312 competitors will face this week. At 492 yards, this par 4 will test even the most skilled PGA Professional player. As Jesse Mueller approached the hole in the third round, he found himself just short of the green in two trying to get up and down just to save par.
Well, when you’re the leader of the PGA Professional Championship by five shots, maybe better than par is possible.
Mueller scored six birdies in his round on Tuesday, and none were more impressive than the one you just watched. Many times, players like Jesse don’t need to hit shots like that to save par. When they do, they are always up to the challenge. Let’s take a closer look at our leader’s preparation and see what we can discover.
The first step in learning from Mueller’s magic pitching move is to see the whole situation. He’s looking at a lie with the ball above his feet. The grass is sparse, and he needs to fly the ball over a penalty area. The green sits above him and the hole is located toward the center or a little deeper. There’s a lot to consider to make this shot successful, but if we break it down like Jesse did in his head then you can attempt to have a similar amount of success.
  1. Ball above his feet – Watch as Mueller grips down on the club. He makes the shaft shorter to compensate for the incline the ball rests on.
  2. The lie is tight – You can see how the fairway lacks a little grass under the ball. To ensure he clips the ball crisply, Mueller keeps turning through the shot. In these situations, don’t stop your pivot (turn), keep moving and you’ll pick the ball clean.
  3. Fly it there – Short shots are easier on the ground. In this case, there’s a penalty area in the way. Jesse picks a club with enough loft to fly the ball over and get it to stop near the hole. Selecting the right club for short shots will determine more than 50% your success.
  4. The hole location – Mueller had some green to work with and the landing area was above him. When playing any short game shot you must select a landing target. This is not the hole. You can see he was looking where he wanted the ball to go. He sent the ball to his target and used the ground to get it close.
Watching our tournament leader play this shot succinctly displays the process we should all implement when it comes to hitting shots around the green. Jesse Mueller has played in many professional tournaments. This is his second PPC and everyone can see by his awesome skill he approaches every aspect of the game with a similar level of thoughtfulness. The two-time Southwest PGA Section Champion will carry a 5-shot lead into tomorrow’s final round. As a PGA Coach, I like his chances, but as I can tell by his approach to this shot Mueller doesn’t make a move without covering all the details.
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