Distance Control 101

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

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How do you control distance when you’re inside of 75 yards? Hopefully a plan is in place. I would say with confidence that controlling distance with wedges is challenging for all golfers. Our lesson tee at TPC Scottsdale is adjacent to the ninth green. Would you believe it if I said most amateurs miss the green when attempting to pitch from 30 to 40 yards? It is true! I witness it daily! A sure way to lower scores…get the ball on the green in one attempt from just off the surface.

I always ask our golf school clients during the pitching segment how they control distance. I get a variety of answers. What I would recommend doing; learn how to hit your sand wedge different distances by simply adjusting your swing length.

Next time you are on the practice tee, swing your arms back and through only a few feet. (See #1 photos.) After you hit a few shots well, establish how far the ball travels in the air.

Next, add a few feet onto both the backswing and the through swing. (See #2 photos.) These swings will propel the golf ball farther off the club face. After you hit a few this way, establish how far the ball is flying.

Finally, add a few more feet back and through. These swings will almost be full but not quite. Again, these swings will make the ball go even farther than the previous shots.

Once you have established 3 different swing lengths with your sand wedge, you will have 3 different carry yardages in which to utilize the next time you are confronted with the dreaded pitch from just off the green. 

John Stahlschmidt is the PGA Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale. To book a lesson or to comment, email John at johnst@touracademy.com.