Control the distance of your pitch shots with these easy tips
Having soft touch on your pitch shots around the green can be a major factor in keeping scores low and saving yourself from longer putts — which often lead to two- or even three-putting.
But it’s not always easy for amateurs to naturally find the stroke that combines both solid contact and precision when they use a wedge.
To be blunt, a lot of amateur players are just trying their best to get the ball on the green safely without chunking it with a wedge. While that should always be priority No. 1, controlling the distance of your pitch shots will positively impact your scorecard almost immediately.
So, how exactly does one do that?
In today’s Play Smart, the folks over at Golf Distillery explain a simple technique to use on your pitch shots, which will help you control the distance of the ball, putting it almost exactly where you want it to land.
How to control the distance of your pitch shots
Many amateurs are probably like me: They pitch the ball up to the green, see it land about six feet from the hole, and then continue to watch it roll past the hole — leaving lots of meat left on that putting bone.
But, by following the below technique, you’ll avoid such frustration.
Start with practicing different distances
When a player goes to the driving range, they often take out their driver to try and bomb it as far as they can, or they use a 5-iron to get a sense of the distance. But when it comes to mastering your pitch shots, the video above explains how to practice with different distances to build up your muscle memory.
“If I go to the driving range and I take a 7-iron out, I’m just hitting at the same distance — I’m going to hit it 150, 150, 150, 150,” he says in the video. “But when I come to chipping and pitching the ball, every shot I get on the golf course is asking me a different question. So it isn’t just a case of pulling out the pitching wedge and hitting it flat, since there’s going to be so many different distances I want to hit to.”
Experiment with different wedges
During a recent golf lesson of mine, I experienced one of those aha moments — that it’s OK to actually use something other than my pitching wedge to chip onto the green.
While I already knew that, I avoided experimenting with my 56- or 60-degree wedge because I wasn’t comfortable with it. I basically had no idea how to hit a good pitch shot with it, and always relied on a bump-and-run option with my pitching wedge. But don’t let your habits hold you back from better shots and lower scores — which is something the instructor explains in the video.
“I’ve got different wedges, but each one of those wedges could produce the distance that I want. It’s [up to the player] to choose how hard I want to hit the ball, and how far I want to fly the golf ball.”
Think about a clock when gauging your swing speed
As players rotate through their swing, one simple barometer to use for distance control is thinking of your swing as the hands of a clock. This will help determine how far back you want to go for each pitch shot you’re faced with.
“Think about each hour of your swing producing a 10-yard distance variation,” he says in the video. “As I bring back [the club] one hour, two hours, three hours; that would be 30 yards — as long as I follow through at the same distance. If I make a shorter swing, it’s a shorter shot. And on a longer swing, it’s a longer shot.”
Match your backswing with your follow through
As stated above, your swing should be on an axis, with your backswing and follow through looking nearly identical. The instructor in the video explains this concept when working on your distance control with pitch shots.
“10 yards per hour is going to change the flight of the golf ball by 10 yards each time. So next time you go to the driving range, consider 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-yard shots. As long as your follow through matches, you should have better control of your pitch shots.”
Now that you have some secrets to hitting better pitch shots, you’re armed with more information to go out and execute on the golf course. As you control the distances of your pitches, you’ll set yourself up for closer putts and lower scores.