by Dan Rozek, PGA Teaching Professional @ Fox Creek Golf Club
Controlling Distance with short irons is essential to scoring especially from 100 yards and closer. Most amateurs try and hit the ball harder for each shot with their wedges in order to make the ball go further. Instead try making the swing longer in order to make the ball go further.
First, find a tempo that you are comfortable swinging and can allow the club to brush the ground during a practice swing. Then using this tempo, begin to make short half swings always letting the club brush the grass. Progressively make longer swings. (Do not try and make the club swing faster. Instead allow the club to move faster due to the length of the swing.) Now try recreating that tempo with a ball in place. Start by just hitting a few shots with no particular distance in mind, only a direction. Take note of how far the ball is traveling. As this feels comfortable, begin to hit the ball longer and shorter by changing the swing length and not the tempo.
A great drill is to leap-frog golf balls out on to the range. Begin by hitting a ball 20 yards in the air. Hit the next ball in the air over the finished position of the 1st ball. Hit the next shot over the finished position of the 2nd ball. Hit the third shot over the finished position of the 2nd ball, ect… Continue to do this until you finally hit a full wedge shot. Accomplish this by making each shot travel further due to length of your backswing while maintaining your tempo and you will be more successful with your wedges.
To take this drill one step further, try the “leap-frog” drill with all your wedges each beginning with the same short 20yd distance and progressing outward and then working back inward to the beginning distance. When we are on the course, don’t let the number on the bottom of the wedge always determine the distance the shot travels. We want to be able to hit all of our wedges all any distance we choose inside of 100 yards.
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