As the old saying goes, “drive for show, putt for dough.” But what happens in between the tee and the green? In this week’s “Flashback Jack,” Nicklaus breaks down his keys to mastering one of the game’s all-time difficult short-game shots: the medium pitch.
“The 50- to 60-yard pitch shot, medium-length shot, it’s a shot we all frequently have to play, but I’m afraid we’re not as good with it as we should be,” Nicklaus said.
If you’re in a situation where you’re hitting a medium pitch, you’re likely trying to put the ball close to the pin. Think about it, if you’re hitting your third shot after laying up on a par-5 or have approach on a short par-4 from 50-60 yards, you’re trying to ensure that you can get up and down.
Given that, Nicklaus’ key to nailing your shot? Aggression.
“I want to be sure I’m aggressive as I can possibly be with this shot to be able to get as much control on the golf ball, either through spin or through hitting a soft shot onto the green,” Nicklaus says. “I use a narrow stance to keep my feet nice and loose and being able to be very fluid so I can be very quick with my feet to be aggressive.”
As far as setup is concerned, Nicklaus argues the key is to maximize feel, since this shot requires a deft touch.
“Next, I play the ball off my left heel,” he says. “My head is pretty much over the top of the ball, I grip the club shorter, I make sure I play the shot with a lot of hands and I’m trying to be very aggressive.”
An aggressive, feel-based approach might give you goosebumps, but Nicklaus says you’ll find even your misses wind up better off than before.
“I think if you try to play the shot aggressively, you’ll find that you get a lot more control and you find that you’ll enjoy playing this shot with much greater success,” he said.