Piercy Holes Lengthy Eagle Pitch

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Scott Piercy is your 36-hole leader at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridge on Jeju Island in South Korea thanks to back-to-back rounds in which the Las Vegas resident minimized his mistakes and capitalized on his opportunities. 

There was no better example of Piercy capitalizing than on the par-5 fifth hole during the first round on Thursday night. Hitting his second shot short and right of the 550-yard par-5 green, Piercy hit a low, running pitch shot that climbed a swale in the green and found the bottom of the cup. 

A long pitch or chip from the intermediate and long rough can be challenging for many players. The long grass can interfere with the contact of the ball and the club, resulting in the ball sliding up the clubface.

When this happens, the ball will come up short of our desired landing area, or if it does hit the area, the force and trajectory will not be strong enough to propel the ball forward to the hole. To avoid these mistakes and hit a shot like Piercy did, think about swinging wide and low.

The reason we want to stay wide and avoid a steep swing arc is because the steeper the angle of attack, the higher the chance the shot climbs up the face. Keeping the clubhead lower going back forces us wide and simply mirroring the backswing on the finish ensures an arc that is wide and shallow during the entire swinging motion.

Although this is not the normal swing shape we use in a full swing, we want to execute this shorter and wider motion to control the flight. This swing is designed to hit a lower and running shot. Any loft we feel we need should be created by the club we select.

To practice this motion, select a pitching wedge and swing it back so your hands are waist high and allow minimal or no wrist hinge. From here, allow the right side of your body and club to turn towards the target. Focus on staying tall in your posture and not dropping down. If we drop down, we will generate an impact position that will shoot the ball up and potentially add too much spin.

At the finish, your body will face the target, but your hands will be close to the body and only at waist height. The club face is neutral or square and the toe should be pointing down the target line.

NOTE: your ball position will depend on the lie and length of the shot. A more forward position will result in a longer carry and relatively higher shot. For most basic long-running pitches, play the ball in the center of your stance.