Learn How to Hit the Toss Shot!

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Ever hear of the toss shot? Think of this shot as a short pitch played 20-40 yards from the green. Add this shot to your short game tool box and you will get the ball up and down with more frequency! 

There are 3 ways to control the trajectory of your shots – change clubs, open the face or lean the shaft. The primary way you will control trajectory with the toss shot is to lean the shaft. Let me explain. The challenge with opening the face is that you will eliminate the amount of surface area in which to strike the ball with. You also create opposing lines; if the face is open you will have to open your stance. A more simplistic approach should be to lean the shaft forward to hit a lower toss shot and back with the shaft to hit a higher toss shot. With this approach you can remain square with the face and stance thus simplifying the process.

Why hit the ball different trajectories? Simple – when hitting to a front hole location you will need to hoist the ball high so it lands softy. When the hole location is deeper into the green, you want to hit the ball lower so it rolls out.  When hitting to a middle pin, use the standard toss for intermediate trajectory.

Once you have determined the trajectory needed, the first step is the aim the face towards your desired landing spot. Next, lean the shaft slightly forward for the low toss, back for the high toss or keep it neutral for the standard toss- see photos. Once this is completed, you must stand to the golf club so that the shaft points to the center of your body. This step determines the ball position. If you are hitting a low toss, you will need to walk slightly towards the target. This will create a ball position that is slightly back in your stance. If you are playing a high toss, the ball will be slightly forward in your stance. The standard toss will feature a center ball position.

Now that you are setup properly, the motion is simple. This shot needs to be executed with an arms swing, coupled by a wrist hinge – see photos. It is important that the weight stays centered during the backswing. If you shift your weight, it is likely that the club head will bottom out early creating a fat shot. I would also suggest hitting this shot with a lob wedge or sand wedge.

I encourage you to practice the toss shot. It is a necessary shot that will help round out your short game. Once the toss shot is mastered, you will shoot lower scores!

John Stahlschmidt is the Senior Head Instructor for the TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale. To comment on this tip, email John at johnst@touracademy.com.