When you are faced with a shot within 100 yards it is even more important to be able to control the distance of your shots.
Knowing your exact yardage with your wedges in this zone can really pay dividends. By knowing your yardage with each of your wedges from a full swing down to even a quarter swing you can effectively use a rangefinder or course planner to assist you in getting the ball close to the pin.
Whats the use of knowing the exact distance to the pin if you don’t know how far you will hit it.
Any shot in this area between 20-100 yards from the green is commonly referred to as a pitch shot.
There are some key factors that influence how far the ball will travel when you play this shot.
These Factors are very variable so its not surprising how so many people get into a great position to score well on a hole and then ruin it with a lousy control of distance as they attempt to land it by the pin. But instead they leave themselves with a very long putt or even another shot to get the ball on the green.
The three key factors that are influencing how far your ball is travelling are the length of shaft, effective loft on impact and club head speed.
These factors are all influenced by our own actions so we are in complete control of each of them.
Changing one or any combination of these keys will cause the distance to change or even stay the same!
Lets imagine you play a pitch shot with a 56 degree wedge, place your hands down the grip just before they meet the shaft.
Then make a half swing back and accelerate through quite firmly with good conviction.
Lets say the ball travels 60 yards in the air.
Now imagine playing the same shot whilst holding the 56 degree club at full length, making a three quarter swing at a much slower pace throughout.
Potentially the ball could travel 60 yards in the air.
If you only get the chance to play at weekends and don’t practice your pitching as often as you would like,you need to be very consistent in your approach to the set-up for these shots.
Try to set-up so you only need to change one variable to change the distance. There is no right or wrong way to attempt this but here are two modes of thought to dial in the distance.
Mode 1 – Keep the set-up the same but change the length of the back swing to dictate how far the ball will travel.
The speed of acceleration needs to be constant as a short back swing with a fast acceleration will send the ball a similar distance to having a longer swing but with a slower acceleration.
You can also try to have an awareness of how far your hands are traveling in your back swing.
For example you can imagine your hands travelling up a clock face as you take the club away from the ball. 9 o’clock being about hip height, if you want the ball to go further then swing to the 10 o’clock position and so on.
Mode 2 – Keep the set-up and length of swing the same but change the speed in which you rotate your body and club through the shot.
For example swing to the 10 o’clock position every time but swing through soft for a shorter shot or faster and with more zip to it for a longer flighted shot.
Either way try choosing a method, stick with it and experiment with different lofts.
The end result is that you will have a vast choice of options for achieving different yardages with the same method.
By using the same method you can start to develop a greater amount of consistency when pitching.
Ask your brain a specific question and it will come back with a specific answer!
So next time you are faced with a pitch shot ask yourself…..
How far do I need to swing back to generate that distance?
Or…..How fast do I need to swing through to generate that distance?
You will be surprised how accurate your answer will be, let your brain dial in the distance then just go ahead and attempt to do it!