Getting Your Distances Right
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I've always been surprised when pro golfers airmail a green, or come up way short. You would think that they would know their distances to the minute level. We saw this over and over again at the U.S. Open at Merion, where – even with wedges in their hands – these best players in the world were mixing up nailing it to the flag or missing 50-75 feet long or short. Very simply, those two wedge shots long and short cost Phil Mickelson the Championship.

Those guys practice incessantly, and still have that issue, so what are you supposed to do? It starts with the right "tool kit", where you have consistent loft gaps and know how far each club goes with a comfortable full swing. Then you need to learn how to "carve up" those gaps into smaller differentials. Here's one way to do that effectively without spending dozens of hours on the range.

There are several elements of controlling distance, but it mostly boils down to clubhead speed. I was taught a long time ago to grip down on the club to shorten it, which takes some clubhead speed off, and produces less than full swing distance. A few years ago I compiled all that learning into a book I wrote called "The SCoR Method", (which is complimentary with each SCOR4161 order, but also available for purchase). The SCoR Method outlines a systematic approach to getting 3-6 distances with each wedge through nothing more than varying your hand position on the grip, and not changing your swing. Once you have that, you can then learn a single "half swing" which gives you another 3-6 distances with each wedge. It's really not that difficult to learn what you can do in this area.

But beyond that, I also am a big fan of keeping the hands quiet and learning to control your wedge swing pace with the rotation speed of your body core. My own approach is to envision my body rotation at three speeds:
  • Highway speed — my normal full swing body rotation speed (but with wedges and short irons, I think of it more in the old 55-mph days, not the autobahn, OK?)

  • City driving — A slower, more deliberate rotation which produces much less clubhead speed

  • School Zone — A very slow, precision swing pace for short shots around the greens.
These serve me well when combined with the SCoR Method of placing my hands precisely on the grip to measure out club length and the amount of face opening.

But to address another side of the issue, I think there are two reasons why many golfers very often find themselves hitting it long on their pitches and chips.

First of all, we're "amped up" a bit when we face these shots and tend to get quick. That translates to increased clubhead speed, which in turn produces a shot that is more powerful than we intended.

But secondly, we tend to look at the flag ... when we actually have a target point where the ball must land that is much closer to us. I am a big believer in eye/hand/body coordination – we all have it, and it works all the time. If you look where you want the ball to land, your eyes will communicate to your body that feedback, and your natural skills will take over. But if you look at the flag, you send the image to your hands and body that this is the speed it needs to generate.

Next time you play or practice, focus intensely on the spot where you want the ball to land and see if it doesn't improve your results. Just figure out the shot — the balance of carry and roll — then focus on that landing spot. Take your practice swings while looking at that precise spot, and then execute the shot at hand.

And let me know how that works for you, OK?
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
woodstocks says:
How much is the book?
shadow sqd says:
My sand wedge is about seven years old ,and, I use it for chips shots as well as bunker shots.
It is getting a little thin in the center grooves ,and, i wonder if I'm due for a new one.
Also the leading edge is beat up from rocks in the bunker.
Am I over due ?
My handicap is on the high side , my pro told me that , the way I play it would be a waste of money.
Any help would be appreciated

J.R. Shadow Squdron
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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