One of the ways that Tour pros and elite players gain several shots each round on us weekend golfers is with distance control with wedges.
Short game guru, Dave Pelz says that for the short game and putting, distance control is 3 times more important than direction.
In this lesson, we’ll take a look at 7 ways you can get better at distance control for shots within 100 yards to make to give you more birdie opportunities and par saves.
1. More Consistent Contact
If you’re not consistently hitting the ball in the center of the face, distance control with wedges is going to be a problem. With the same swing, tempo and club head speed coming into the ball, different amounts of energy are going to be exerted onto the ball with heel and toe hits.
One way to improve your consistency of contact is by using a foot spray powder on the face while you’re practicing. Simply spray the face and hit several shots during your short game practice. The ball will leave a mark on the face and tell you exactly where you are making contact. Re-apply spray after each shot and work towards hitting the ball in the center of the club-face.
2. Using Feel for Improved Distance Control With Wedges
Feel is the most important factor in good distance control with wedges. During your pre shot routine, it’s very important that you connect with your sense of feel. Ask yourself, what does this shot feel like? This is about sensing not thinking. Rehearse the feel of how the club is going to interact with the ball and the ground. Hold onto this during the engagement phase of your pre shot routine, and make your swing based upon the anticipation of that sensation.
3. Being Reactive
Thinking over the ball destroys athletic movement and disconnects you from the target. The world’s best players are “looking and reacting” to all their shots (even more so with the short game and putting). Get into the habit of keeping your focus external and on your visualized intention for the shot and starting your swing or stroke shortly after your eyes come back to the ball. You don’t want to get static and disconnected shortly before swinging.
4. Have Light Hands
To become consistent with distance control with wedges, you’ll need light grip pressure. The world’s best players say their grip pressure is about a 3-4 out of 10 for short game and putting, By doing this, you’ll avoid any tension in your arms and shoulders and you’ll have maximum feel in your hands. You want to feel like you are using gravity as the club begins its descent towards the ball while moving your hips towards the target. This will allow you to be more in control of distance with wedges and they’ll be less hand manipulation.
5. Visualization and Commitment
For every shot you hit around the green, you’ll need to know what trajectory and carry you intend to have and how much release you’ll get with the lie and loft of the club. It’s really important to be able to visualize what the shot looks like and make sure there’s full commitment to what you are about to do.
6. Using a “Clock face”
Some players who are perhaps a little more technical like the Dave Pelz Clock System for controlling the back swing distance and therefore better distance control with wedges. With a trackman on the range, or if you have access to a good short game area where you can hit longer shots, calibrate your wedges by taking your hands back to different times on the clock face during your backswing. E.g. If your 56 degree wedge goes 100 yards with a full swing, you might find it goes 50 yards at 8 O’clock and 75 yards at 10 O’clock. Therefore you can essentially get 3 different distances with each wedge, which can really help you get close in the scoring zone.
7. Practicing for Better Distance Control with Wedges
I would highly recommend that you spend at least 50% of your practice time on short game and putting. Try to make it more about random practice than block practice (hitting multiple balls from the same spot) and experiment with the ideas above to get the ball travelling the correct distance from anywhere within 100 yards. Start by hitting a shot to 100, then 90, then 80 and so on…