By Paul Myers
When you think about distance on the golf course, you probably naturally think about your driver first and foremost. After all, it is the club that goes the farthest, and can be the most fun to hit for many players. There is nothing wrong with trying to maximize distance with your driver, but knowing your distances with clubs like the pitching wedge might be even more important. Once you have reliable control of your pitching wedge distance, you can expect to face shorter birdie putts than you ever have before. You don’t need to swing extra hard or try to max out distance with your wedge like you might with the driver – instead, controlling your distance – and your ball flight – is far more important. It’s about minimizing your overall dispersion.
Distance is Directly Related to Swing Speed
Using your driver swing speed as a baseline, we can estimate how far you should be able to hit your pitching wedge under normal conditions. Let’s say that you are able to generate a 90 MPH swing speed with your driver – that would mean that you should be able to hit a pitching wedge around 109 yards. Swing faster? Expect more distance. Swing slower than 90 MPH with your driver? You will likely be shorter than the 109 yard mark. Either way, it is important that you understand your own swing and how far you can hit the ball on a consistent basis.
The Do-It-All Club
In addition to hitting standard approach shots into the green with your pitching wedge, you likely use it from a variety of other positions on the course. It could be one of your go-to chipping clubs around the green, and you can even use it from the bunker when you face a longer shot than your sand wedge is able to handle. Not only do you want to be reliable in hitting your pitching wedge the same distance with a full swing each time, but it can also help to be able to create other distances when you face a shot that falls in-between clubs. The closer you get to the green, the more important it becomes to have feel and touch in your swing – and the shots you need to hit with a pitching wedge are a great example of that.
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Don’t Hit It Too High
Many golfers make the mistake of thinking they need to launch their short irons way up into the air in order to get them to stop quickly. In fact, the backspin on the ball can provide stopping power too, so there is no need to force the ball up into the air. The higher you hit a given shot, the harder it is for some people to control the distance – so the ideal plan is to find a good personal balance of shot height and spin. Practice getting control of these things and your will find that your distance control quickly improves.
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Use the tool below to find out a.) how fast your swing speed should be and b.) how fast you COULD swing it soon: