When we look at great wedge players, they always have a fantastic ability to control the distance, trajectory and spin as if they were playing a game on a console. However for most amateurs controlling distances at close range can be nothing short of a nightmare. The most common reason for misjudgement of distances with a wedge is the understanding of what needs to change in order to alter the distance the ball will travel.
There are several different ways to alter the distance that a golf ball will travel, however some are far easier to judge and adjust than others are. The most common way the average golfer will adjust their distances is by hitting it “harder” or “softer”, in other words they try to change the energy they put into the swing. Although this will change the distance that the ball will travel, it is very difficult to judge and alter how much energy you put into each shot.
Developing a stock pitch shot
The best place to start in improving your distance control with a wedge, is to develop a stock pitch shot. A stock pitch shot is a very basic and simple pitch shot that will produce a clean and consistent strike with a shallow attack angle and very little divot. A stock pitch shot for me is generally quite a simple thing to achieve with some simple set up keys being essential:
- Narrow stance
- Centred ball position
- Club shaft almost vertical (very slight forward lean)
Alter Length & Loft, not energy
After developing a stock pitch shot it becomes very easy to alter the distance that the ball will travel. We have two simple, measurable options when it comes to altering distance and trajectory of the golf ball, they are swing length and club loft.
If we can keep our energy the same with most of our shots around the green, simply altering the length of our backswing and follow through will alter how far the ball goes. A simple way to develop different length swings is to begin your practice with a full wedge swing, and a half wedge swing (roughly hip high). Once you have perfected these you can add an additional distance with a three quarter swing. By having these 3 different length swings we immediately will create 3 different distances that we can achieve without too much alteration.
In addition to altering the length of the swing that we make, we can also alter the loft of the club we are using. Simply changing clubs will instantly alter the trajectory and distance that the ball will travel. Assuming you carry 3 or more wedges then you have immediately created 9 different distances & trajectories that you can use with one style of shot.