Too many weekend golfers think they should try to hit their short approaches close to the hole on the fly with a pitching wedge when they would be far better advised to play one of the game's oldest and soundest shots—the pitch-and-run. It is not hard to learn, and once mastered it can—given the proper conditions—be an extraordinarily useful and satisfying shot. The proper conditions are encountered very often: windy days, hard greens and/or a flat golf course.
The main reason for not shooting right at the flagstick with the wedge is that, while the results can often be spectacular, they arc often spectacularly dismal. It is simply a very difficult shot to execute successfully. The pitch-and-run, on the other hand, can be equally successful at its best, and is rarely a disaster at its worst.
The basic thing to keep in mind about the pitch-and-run, of course, is that the ball is going to roll a long distance. It must be played to land on flat ground. It can be hit with a wedge—by closing the face and playing the ball well back toward the right foot—but best results are usually achieved with a seven-or eight-iron. Play the ball at about the middle of the stance and choke down on the grip two inches or "so as shown at left. Take an upright, short backswing and concentrate on meeting the ball firmly. The club should hit the ball before hitting the grass, or the necessary crispness and control will be lost. Until you have practiced the shot enough to see how it behaves, it is probably wise to hit it harder than you think necessary. You are not likely to be penalized severely if the ball does go past the hole.