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?
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[ comments ]
joe jones says:
I can remember a time when great golfers carried one wedge and had no trouble hitting greens. They could hit any number of clubs different distances and had no trouble with accuracy. It was Tom Kite that is given credit for using 3 & 4 wedges.I don't know what the problem is with today's players but it certainly not because they use a incorrect club. Perhaps it,s because they don't practice half and finesse shots enough so they feel comfortable with different distances. Perhaps it's a lack of practice with those shots that is the real problem.They certainly have the talent. As a last resort they can always blame the caddy.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
"I can remember a time when great golfers carried one wedge and had no trouble hitting greens."

I cant see this ever being true. I believe golfers might have carried 1 "wedge" but if you were to classify everything over 40* of loft a "wedge" like in many sets today then I would guess they carried more than 1.

I think there is some selection bias when you say "no problem hitting greens" and "no trouble with accuracy." You are probably remembering great shots and not viewing the picture as a whole.

I can almost guarantee that the #125 golfer in the world today is better from inside 100 yards than the #125 golfer in 1930.
7/9/13
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. My comments were based upon in watching great players in person not from a failed memory.I have no trouble remembering bad shots.Everbody has them. What you believe as true has no basis in fact. For 30 years go9lf sets were made up of irons 2 to pw with one sand iron. The sand iron was optional and some players didn't use them.I have played with a number of pro's over the years. That includes Snead, Trevino,Mickey Wright & Juli Inkster amongst others.
As far as your comment comparing golfers from the thirties and today quite frankly you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground. To disregard the talents of players like Jones, Nelson and Hogan shows your lack of knowledge of the history of golf.I suggest you broaden your limited knowledge by reading about some of the past greats. I am not demeaning today's players just suggesting that they don't play skill shots as well as they should.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
Didn't intend to offend you. And I was by no means saying Nelson, Jones, Hogan, ect were not great. They were and will be way better than I'll ever be and are all probably in the top 10-20 golfers of all time.

But to say that golfers of any era had "no problem hitting greens" is a bit of a stretch. You must agree? If it was that easy why dont you go buy some hickory shafts and circa 1930's golf clubs to replace your current clubs?

I just get tired of reading all of the "these pros aren't that good" articles from Terry. I would put money on Tiger Woods, Rory, or Phil whooping the crap out of Terry on an executive course using only a GW, SW, and putter against Terry using 14 clubs of his choice…
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I just quoted your comments because they went even further by insinuating that the old pro's were gods gift to golf and could destroy the new pros in the "SCOR-ing" zone.

I am arguing that if you put players ranked 1-125 from this year up against players ranked 1-125 in 1930 and made them play a short executive course. Each player up against their ranked counterpart (ie #1 v #1). The current players would win more than 62 matches. This isn’t a denigration of the players from the 30’s. It’s a comment on how good the current players are.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
Its kind of hard finding starts from too long ago.

But here is a slight comparison of the #60 player on the PGA tour as of today compared to 2001 (this is #60 on the PGA tour for GIR inside 100 yards).

Now
2 players are tied for GIR inside 100 yards. They both have 87.7% GIR from this range.

2001
Mat Goggin was the #60 player on the PGA tour for GIR inside 100 yards. At 78%.

So in 12 short years we have increased the GIR for the median PGA tour player by 10% from inside 100 yards.

There was no "Hogan, Jones, or Nelson" in the top 10 in 2001. But there was a "Woods" in arguably the best year of golf ever played by a single person. That year he hit an astounding 76.92% of GIR from inside 100 yards. Compared to 2013 where he has hit 91.18% of his GIR inside 100 yards.
7/9/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@jasonfish11 thats some good facts to support your point. What else you got?
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
golfsmith. Are you a politician?

Facts aren't good enough.
7/9/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
Lol Not a politician but other examples would have been cool. I agree with your point overall! I am a minister by the way.
7/9/13
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. You missed my point completely. Nowhere did I say that the old time players were more accomplished than todays players. What I said was old time players were more adept at playing more shots with fewer clubs than the stars of today.The original question was "why are players not hitting greens from 125 yards or so". The answer seems to be make a different type of wedge with a different grind and a different loft and all of their problems will magically vanish.I suggest they should learn to hit different shots with the same equipment. Your statement dissing my statement about one wedge is B.S. You plain just don't know the history of golf and equipment, Just answer one question for me. Gary Player could get close to the pin from a greenside sand trap using anything from a 3 iron to a wedge. Name one player today that can do that. Many are magicians with sand clubs but not all todays players are that good.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I wasn't sure if you were being facetious or not.

Here is where I got the above information.

www.pgatour.com/stats.html
7/9/13
 
joe jones says:
What the hell does that prove. Where are the stats that show what Jones could do. You can go through the rest of your life with blinders on. Most smart people try to learn about things from the past. It's called History. Pity. Your loss.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I completely agree that I think players back then were more creative than they are now. I feel it is something I lack in my own game hence the post I made yesterday in this thread. oobgolf.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4008&start=22

Hogan could hit a SW 100+ yards just like today’s players. But he rarely ever used it over 60 yards.
7/9/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
The game is so different now. Many of the greens the pros play on today are so hard and fast, with so much trouble around them. They are forced to hit high launching high spin approach shots. Instead of hitting a 6i from 100 yards that rolls up onto the green. Not saying Hogan always did that but more courses were designed in a way to give that option back then. Elevated greens and harsh green side penalties are a newer design trend. Yes they've always existed but not to the extent of the new courses.

Does this take away from the game? This is a matter of opinion. I personally like watching the open championship because I get to see guys hit 5i from 100 yards out and other creative shots.
7/9/13
 
Bryan K says:
Joe is the one who taught me the importance of the bump and run on a desert course. I couldn't use that shot back home in Fargo because every green was protected. That said, I like Joe's way of playing. I like being able to choose between a couple of different shots based on varying conditions when I'm at an uncomfortable distance like 70 yards. Sure, I can take my lob wedge and try to land it on the green with a 3/4 swing. And I'll probably come away with a truly awesome shot about 1/3 of the time. And I'll probably miss the green completely another 1/3 of the time. But if I play a lower lofted wedge and try to roll it onto the green or even just hit the front portion of the green to roll it towards a backside pin, I'll probably hit the green a good 75% of the time.

I think that's the difference between today's players and yesterday's players. Todays pros, when they miss their distance entirely, are most likely misjudging the how hard to hit the ball. Right club, wrong swing.
7/9/13
 
Bryan K says:
Also thought I'd add that a ton of different factors also come into play. Wind, temperature, elevation, barometric pressure, humidity, grain of the grass. If a pro hits the ball 60 yards when he meant to hit it 75, chances are good that he either did the aforementioned and took an incorrect swing, or he misjudged one or all of the above factors. Or he could have been trying to shape a shot that didn't quite work out. Maybe he didn't open his clubface enough. I highly doubt it has anything to do with the equipment.
7/9/13
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. Did you miss the point of this posting altogether. The Wedge Guy was using Merion as an example of today,s players mis hitting short irons. Everybody talked about how they were going to take advantage by playing wedges into the greens on this old style short golf course. It killed them. Even Phil and Stricker who are two of the best short iron players in the game couldn't hit correct shots. Merion plays about the same as it did 50 years ago. Same traps, same fairways, same rough , same wedges into same greens. Kind of blows your theory out of the water doesn't it.Thats why when everybody else was predicting that the players would tear it up I predicted the correct winning score. One over par.
7/10/13
 
joe jones says:
An additional comment. Bryan K will tell you that I told him I use bump and run because I don't have a reliable short wedge game. I play to gaps and bailout areas so I can do what I do best. It's conservative but it allows me to take what the course will give me. If I played a course where the greens had traps in front that required a soft wedge or flop shot it would frustrate me no end.I play with a 3 handicap every Friday that can hit the most beautiful flop shots and I marvel at him and wish I could do it. At the same time I knock his socks off when I chip & run a 7 iron from 50 yards and knock one stiff. Different strokes for different folks.
7/10/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I'm not sure what I did to piss you off but since you want to argue. Lets at least quit lying.

"Merion plays about the same as it did 50 years ago."

No. Not at all true.

I wasn't there 50 years ago. But I can guarantee that the course setup is substancially different than it was in 1950. I'm can say with about 99% assurance that this year the greens were harder, and faster. The rough was longer, and thicker, the fairways were narrower.

The course was re-designed (twice I believe) since 1950.

Also I was commenting on Terrys general posts of "these guys are good with wedges." His articles stating this aren't restricted to Merion. He made the same article about Rory hitting a wedge from 120 at the Masters (which has also been re-designed a couple times in the last 50 years). I'm sure there are many others posts where he says the same thing.
7/10/13
 
joe jones says:
Read this. The USGA on its web site when describing Merion East states "Minor tweaks and changes have been made from 1896 when it was opened to today. It will play much the same for the 2013 U S Open".For your additional enlightenment the yardage for the 1981 Open was 6544 yards. This year it played to 6996 yards.A increase of 452 yards in 32 years. Taking in to account today's equipment that is about the same. Everyone who has played the course said that the fairways are played by the members today exactly the width used at the Open. The only difference in the rough was the fact that they had no first cut. I have commented that that was the only thing that I didn't care for.Is your nose getting longer Pinnochio?
7/10/13
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish
Your posting on the column by Erika Larken on Mapping Wedges exposes why you cannot accept the validity of my posting on Wedge Guy. You admit that you can't figure out how to hit different shots with different clubs. Nothing wrong with laying up to a comfortable yardage so you can hit a full shot.Thats what most golfers try to do including the pro's. Erika is trying to get people to see that they can use the same club and hit a variety of shots. Easier said than done but wonderful if you can accomplish it. I have already admitted that I have a lousy wedge game. At my age it's easier to take the path of chip and run.
7/10/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
You are right.
7/10/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I agree. When I do find myself having 40 yards in. I will pull an 8i before a SW assuming I can play a bump and run shot.

I agree with everything you've said other than "I can remember a time when great golfers carried one wedge and had no trouble hitting greens. They could hit any number of clubs different distances and had no trouble with accuracy."

I understand what you are trying to say but I feel this is a massive over simplification. To the point where its just plain wrong.

I really had no intent to upset you (rile you up) or whatever you want to call it. I honestly like 99% of your posts and feel you are a very valuable member here as well as a very intelligent person (about golf as well as other subjects).
7/10/13
 
joe jones says:
Case closed.
7/10/13
 
Bryan K says:
My point, though, Joe, was more to illustrate what Terry was trying to say and where I think he is mistaken. I think a pro, when faced with a 70 yard shot, can play a high lofted pitch shot (not necessarily a flop) with a high degree of accuracy a great majority of the time. It's the most accurate shot in their arsenal, so they use it. The drawback is, a slight miss is going to look very, very bad. On the converse, a bump-and-run shot that you use and that I am learning to use is going to have a lower degree of accuracy, but a slight miss is still going to look pretty darn good. The pros don't use that shot because they want to go up-and-down. But 50 years ago, before the prose had precision wedges like the prose of today, they used the shot with a great deal of skill because it's all they had. I think the pros of today could execute that shot just as well as the pros of yesterday. They choose not to.
7/10/13
 
Bryan K says:
And the pros of yesterday could have probably executed the high lofted pitch shots of today just as well as the prose of today. They just didn't have the equipment.
7/10/13
 
joe jones says:
BryanK. Points well taken with one exception. They could hit high soft shots by opening the face of a 48* wedge, reposition the ball a little forward and swing through the ball with a high finish. That shot served them well where they had difficult pin positions and/or hard greens.
7/11/13
 
Bertie_16 says:
Congrats to joe jones, you won the internet. Your prize is nothing. I'm guessing you've never lost an argument because you know everything about history. We all bow to your greatness. jasonfish11 made good points and you flew off the handle. Next time anyone has an opinion they should ask WWJJD (what would joe jones do?)
7/12/13
 
Gromit5 says:
Bertie: Icing on the cake. Perfecto!
7/12/13
 
joe jones says:
Bertie 16
I am a professional Sports columnist. For 20 years I have written Sports Talk by Joe Jones. I am also a public speaker and have appeared on local TV and radio shows. As a columnist I research everything before I write it. I credit sources on everything I do. My perspective is from a seniors point of view because is what I am. Much of what I write is from personal experiences.
The reason I flew off the handle was because Jason accused me of.
1. Bias 2. Stretching the truth. 3. Being facetious. 4. Accused me of lying.
Now I don't know how you would feel about that but I can tell you It pissed me off no end. I used factual information culled from the internet. If you feel I over reacted it is your right to o so. The snarky way you answered does not serve you well.
7/12/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
1. You just admitted you write with a BIAS to seniors. So I was right. Not that having a bias is wrong just know it is there, and don't "fly off the handle" when someone calls you out about it.
2. Stretching the truth. Your 1st post where I called you out said that the older pro's had 1 wedge. You then later admitted they also carried a sand iron. And I would argue that given today's definition they carried multiple clubs over 44* of loft which would be considered "wedges" as of today's standards. So yes you were stretching the truth in that comment. Again not that it is wrong, just don't get pissed when you get caught.
3. Facetious? I don't know when I ever claimed you were doing that. If any thing you took a non-serious matter and took it very seriously. I was completely wrong if I said you were ever "joking" because you seemed to take everything very personal and not in a joking matter.
4. Liar. I might be wrong. Not sure its true. But I was tired of you being an asshole.
7/14/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
So I was right on 3 out of 4 (and possibly right on the 4th). I'll take 75%
7/14/13
 
joe jones says:
If you are lucky you will become a senior so you can have a perspective on something. One can only hope.
7/14/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I plan on being a senior. But if it means I turn into someone who can't admit they are wrong or appologize then I'd rather not get there.

I'm done with this topic. Enjoy your senility.
7/15/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I guess this topic will teach me to not bother taking the high road with you ever again.
7/15/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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