When it comes to wedge shots under 80 yards (pitches), most golfers have to hit a shot that’s not full. These shorter pitch shots require players to guess at their swing intensity; how hard to hit the shot.
They end up playing the shot completely by feel and relying on their depth perception and hand-eye coordination to make the ball go the right distance. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly unreliable method for hitting pitch shots. It only leads to inconsistency.
The trick to mastering pitch shots under 80 yards or so is to practice three distinct shots with each wedge in your bag. Most of us carry 2-4 wedges (PW, GW, SW, and LW) depending on your personal preference.
Everyone has at least one shot with each, giving you three different yardages. The goal is to add at least two new swings you trust. Having three consistent swings with each would give you 6-12 unique wedge shots (yardages) without thinking much.
Consistently adding new shots require that you create a repeatable backswing that always stops at the same place. To add these swings, think about a clock superimposed over your set-up. The full-swing that everyone has, stops at 11:00.
The two shots you’ll want to add to your repertoire is done so by stopping your back swing at 9:00 and 10:00. That way, depending on the wedge you have in your hand, you’ll have three distinct and consistent distances with every wedge you carry in your bag; 11:00, 10:00, and 9:00.
The chart below is helpful in figuring out the distance you hit each shot. As you can see, if you carry four wedges, you’ll have 12 unique shots that travel different distances. Take this chart out to the driving range and fill it in for your clubs.
In order to be consistent with your yardages, you’ll need to maintain the same tempo through the ball. Tempo is the rate of speed you swing the club back and through. Think of a metronome for musicians, it keeps the rate/time consistent.
The best way to maintain a consistent tempo is to count in your head while you swing. (“one, two,” in your backswing and “three, four.” in your downswing through finish) The backswing is shorter and slower than the downswing and follow-through, yet the count ratio is still 1:1. This count will stay the exact same even when you have a shorter shot.
It’s also important to accelerate through the downswing. Often times, when golfers aren’t confident in their distances, they’ll decelerate, or slow down, through the ball, this only leads to more inconsistency. Instead, allow gravity to take your hands and the club through the impact zone. If you let gravity work, then you’ll be sure to accelerate through the ball.