Getting it right: Take the shortest backswing you can possibly make, and then accelerate your wedge into a slightly longer follow-through. *Photos by Paul Adams
Getting it right: Take the shortest backswing you can possibly make, and then accelerate your wedge into a slightly longer follow-through. *Photos by Paul Adams

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21: Ask anyone who golfs what they would use from 150 yards under standard conditions and see what they answer.

My guess is that they will quickly come up with a club and a swing.

However, if you ask the same question for a shot inside 40 yards, they cannot provide a clear answer.

They might say wedge, but then ‘which one?’. They would also have a difficult time to say what kind of swing they would use — full, hard, easy, three-quarter.

Since most players don’t know exactly what club and swing to use from short range, they try to ‘feel’ distance, only to chunk the shot or send the ball screaming across the green. Tempo suffers and practice is a waste of time.

This is a problem — with poor feel from short range and the lack of specialty clubs to hit the ball close to the hole from 40 yards and in, amateurs struggle and maintain handicaps that are much higher than they should be.

The solution is a little practice.

Place a target and walk somewhere around 15 steps away from it.

Drop a dozen balls on the grass and make what you feel is the shortest backswing you can possibly make, and then accelerate your wedge into a slightly longer follow-through. (Try to feel a descending blow into the ground so that you feel resistance in the turf but NOT taking a big gouging divot).

As you do this, note where the ball lands relative to the target, on your good swings. Then, move closer or farther from the target and use the same short-to-long pitch swing until your shots consistently fly the right distance.

Specific

Once this happens, walk off the distance to the target to see how many steps this swing flies your shots.

With just this effort you can develop a swing that pitches the ball a specific distance, as well as baseline reference for both longer and shorter shots.

This alone will make a huge difference in your scoring.

Repeat the drill with different clubs and you can build a mini-arsenal of pitch shots. As Ben Hogan said, “The secret is in the dirt”.

The key base distance to focus on is 50 yards. Make sure that you know the swing for that distance and then it is easy to work out the other distances from there.

Similar to how you would look at 150 yards for the 7 iron and base distances on that up and down.

The best way to get better is to have a PGA Professional spend time with you on this shot, consider maybe sharing a session with a friend so that an extended amount of time like an hour or so can be devoted on this key skill.

Paul Adams is the PGA director of golf at Rosewood Tucker’s Point.