The Priceless Short Game Lesson In Distance Control

I know when I miss a green I better get up and down so I can keep the momentum going and save par.  If I look at my stats and compare great rounds from good rounds, there is a significantly difference between the two. Particularly in the amount of greens in regulation I hit and how many times I was able to get up and down. If you are not already collecting stats and archiving them, I would strongly recommend getting to know your game through your stats.

A great ball striker will usually hit around 15-13 greens, having the skills and distance control with wedges will prevent bogeys on the card.  The average distance left to the pin after missing a green is usually somewhere between 15 and 25 yards. Practicing these distances on the chipping green will allow your practice to translate over onto the golf course. Obviously the more you practice with a wedge the better “feel” you will get around the greens. Ultimately you want to get to a point when it feels as if it would as you throw a ball, instead you just have a golf club in your hand. At first practicing to specific distances will feel a bit awkward but over time I promise will become more natural.

With that in mind, the best chipper and pitchers in the game control what they can and that’s how far they carry the golf ball with a particular spin and trajectory. Short game is very much a art, and with practice you will see that there are many different ways to get the ball inside 3 feet or make it. The shot you decide on playing will mostly be affected by your lie, but learning how to hit shots with all types of trajectories and spins will drastically improve this art. While practicing, even if the shot calls for a low running shot, play all sorts of shots to the pin.

The first step in learning how to chip effectively is picking out where to land the ball. From that landing spot you can estimate how much roll you will get based on what trajectory and spin you play. Base your chipping on whether or not you can land the ball on your mark. Different landing distances will run out different amount and with practice you will learn the relationship between carry and run distance.

When chipping place tees in the green at certain distances to make sure you give yourself valuable feedback.  You will begin to understand that if you fly the ball 4 yards it will run another 4 or whatever the combinations are for you. I like to use my 60 degree for most of my shots around the green.

There is an interesting relationship between how far back you take the club combined with how far down you grip on the shaft to produce the ball the fly a specific yardage. If you can learn and practice these two skills you will be able to toss the ball whatever distance you desire around the greens. Before every shot you play around the green all you would have to do is pace off the total yardage between you and the pin. When chipping around the greens it is very important that you are not gripping the club where you would for a normal shot. That farther down the shaft you grip the more control you will have.

Next time you are practicing your distance control with a wedge, place tee’s at 2,5,10,15, and 25 yards. We are going to learn how to land the ball exactly on these numbers. Make sure to grip all the way down to the steel for all these shots.

If I want to land the ball 2 yards I will take the club back ankle high and follow through just slightly past. A 5 foot shot will go stop at calf level. To fly the ball 10 yards, I will stop my backswing at my knee. Stopping my swing at my thigh will result in a shot with a carry distance of 15 yards. Finally, to produce a shot that will land 20 yards, I will stop my backswing at hip level. In order for this to work properly, you must have great extension backward and just about the same amount of follow through.

I personally believe your ball striking will be your biggest asset as a golfer, however your short game, chipping in particular will bring everything together and prevent potential bad rounds from snowballing. If you have minimal time to practice, practice chipping.


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