How to Control Distance with Your Pitch Shots

I am always having golfers ask me how to hit pesky 30-70 yard shots so here is your weekly golf tip. The basic pitch shot is a miniature golf swing. The set up is slightly different in that your feet are slightly open to your target and your hips and shoulders remain square to your target. The ball is The Pitch Shotplayed in the middle of your stance with a slight knee bend.

Once you have the set up you want to keep the lower body (legs and feet) quiet on your back swing and swing the arms and upper body together, keeping the club on the correct plane. If you keep a light grip the club will have a better chance to hinge naturally on your backswing, preventing the golf club from going behind your body.   Here’s a good checkpoint: as you swing the club half way back, the grip end of the club should be pointing to the ground with your lead arm forming an L with the shaft. A good visual image is to feel like you are getting your stomach in motion. This will allow you to turn away from the ball and then turn towards the target on the follow through.

There are two ways to control distance on these pitch shots. You can grip down on the golf club and/or you can shorten your backswing. As you grip down on the club also narrow your stance a Clocklittle and move the ball a little back in your stance. Another good way to control distance is to think in terms of matching numbers on a clock – swing back to 9:00 and through to 3:00 and see how far you hit it. Practice different distances using different times on the clock to dial in yardages.

You can also work on different trajectories on pitch shots. To hit a lower shot, move the ball back in your stance and keep your weight on your front foot. To play a higher shot move the ball forward in your stance and your weight will be more evenly distributed on your feet.

As always, you never want to try a shot on the golf course until you have practiced it. Practicing this pitch shot will help your tempo with full shots.

Stuck in the middle? The keys to dialing in your distance.

How often do you find yourself "stuck" in between two clubs? If you're anything like me, a lot!  This dreaded juncture almost always leads people to think they must pick the lesser of two evils. They can either swing out of their shoes and "muscle" the shorter club there or settle for the lazy swing and try to shave off some yardage. Neither of these options produce consistent results. Below are a few keys to dealing with this tricky situation you'll undobutly find yourself in multiple times during a single round of golf.

  • Go with the longer club and grip down. Once you have gripped down on the club, simply take your normal swing. You will find that this will naturally take a little yardage off your shot without forcing yo u to sacrifice consistency. Taking a normal swing will always leave you better off than trying to create a "Band-Aid" fix for whatever dilemma in which you find yourself.
  • Pay attention to the playing surface. For example, the rough will automatically take a little yardage off a shot. Therefore, be sure to take that into consideration and club up. This will again allow you to take a normal swing rather than being forced to swing hard and fast. If you're going uphill or downhill, make sure you factor that into your distance calculation as well. If you're going uphill, take a little more; downhill, a little less.
  • Never forget what actually controls distance. Always keep in mind that distance is controlled by where you grip the club and the length of the backswing, not the speed of the swing. Want to hit it shorter? Go with the three-quarter swing at the same tempo before attempting to mess with how fast you swing.

Enjoy the game and, remember, if you ever have a specific tip you want me to write, don’t hesitate to email me at or stop by my golf academy at Old Trail Golf Club. I am happy to answer all of your questions!


Lower Your Scores with Improved Chipping

I have noticed more and more that golfers are using the same club to chip from anywhere around the green. This club generally seems to be a sand wedge. To develop good touch around the greens by using one club requires an exceptional amount of ‘feel’ and requires lots of practice. Unless you are able to invest the time and effort, I suggest that you develop a chipping system that involves learning one basic swing, and then vary the club that you use to play chips of differing length.

chip ShotA chip shot is used when the shot is fairly flat and close to the green. You play the ball back in your stance and the weight is on your front foot. Grip down on the club for control and then swing the club with your shoulders. Keep the head still and think of a pendulum clock swinging back and through (same distance back and through).

I believe the most effective chipping strategy is one that lands the ball on the putting surface as quickly as possible and allows the ball to roll to the hole. I encourage golfers to mentally divide the distance between their ball and the hole into thirds, landing the ball one-third on the green and allowing the ball to roll the remaining two-thirds of the way to the hole.

Regardless of the club you are using for your chip shot, you should swing the club with the same tempo every time. Try hitting chip shots with a 5 iron down to your sand wedge with the same swing on every shot and make note of the reaction of the clubs. Obviously, a 5 iron will roll more than a sand wedge. Gauge your club choice by the distance you want the shot to travel; use a less lofted club for the longer shots and more loft for the short shots.

With practice, you will have a good idea of which club produces what roll. Once you have this knowledge, you will then be able to select the correct club and hit different length shots close to the hole on the golf course.

Please feel free to contact me at any time for questions about your golf game by email at Please visit for additional golf tips.