Hitting frustrating wedge shots? Try this ladder drill for distance control

Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.

After playing two consecutive rounds on separate par-3 courses, I came to the conclusion that I really need some help with my distance control — and I’m guessing plenty of you can relate.

Here’s the issue I’m having: As I rework my swing and start making better contact thanks to some golf lessons, I find myself struggling with the yardages of each club. So a hole that’s 155 yards used to require a 7-iron, whereas now I can get there with my 8-iron.

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As you might imagine, the same thing happens with my wedges, where I just can’t quite dial in the distances I need to stick it close.

This is where a tried-and-true drill comes into play: Using a ladder concept.

In the video above, GOLF Teacher to Watch Christie Longfield — the Director of Instruction at Spanish Oaks Golf Club — demonstrates how to get a better feel on distance control with wedges (or any club, really).

The best part? It’s simple, and only requires some golf balls, the clubs you want to practice with, a towel, and an area to practice on.

With the towel from your bag (or from the clubhouse at the golf course), simply lay it on the green or fairway. This is going to be your target area, making sure you get it as close to that landing spot (the towel) as possible.

Next, Longfield says to start hitting shots just short of the towel target, then move to hitting shots over the target.

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“You’re going to try and hit your first ball right on it,” she says. “Now that you’ve got your spot, you’re going to practice trying to hit just short of it, and then hitting just over. So now you can start to feel how much power or how much speed you need to apply to [the shot].”

By doing this ladder drill, you’ll get a feel for the distance control, seeing how long or how short your backswing should be and how much speed you need to access.

“Use a little bit bigger backswing, maybe a little bit more speed, and we’re going to work on that to help you understand how to control the distance in a wedge shot that’s not a full shot,” adds Longfield.

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Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor