Nothing is dicier than those delicate in between shots inside of 100 yards. This is primarily due to the fact that it's difficult to accurately control distance when forced to make less than a full golf swing. If you look at "golf", you could argue that playing a complete game really consists of being able to effectively master multiples games. To break this down you could say that golf consists of a Power Game, Finesse Game, Putting Game, Mental Game and Physical Game. Win the battle of each game and it's pretty much a guarantee you're one heck of a player.
As it relates to the power game, the attitude is basically to hit it as far as you can, with a "full" range of motion with any given club. Here you're getting multiple distances out of one basic swing due to the fact you have 13 or so interchangeable clubs at your disposal. As you move inside of full swing range, distance control becomes increasingly more difficult, as now clubs are limited and swing length must become more variable.
Understanding how to answer this unique challenge associated with short-range "finesse" shots is what made Dave Pelz a valuable asset for any player looking to improve their wedge game. Not only did Dave have a unique perspective on how to coach the short-game as a "game" unto itself, he's also responsible for creating a movement that encouraged coaches to specialize in teaching only certain areas of the game.
Early in my career I had the pleasure of working for Dave Pelz at his facility in LaQuinta, Calif. We had a whole system associated with dialing in distance control on the wedges, but back then it was common to begin by having players learn to master a basic 50-yard shot.
Before my time at Pelz, I had never really practiced to specific wedge yardages. Instead I just trusted my gut to knock it close. At the short game school, however, we had a state-of-the-art facility with targets everywhere to hit to. I'm embarrassed to say, when given the task of consistently hitting a net only 50 yards away, I failed miserably. Pretty quickly I found my groove and for the first time actually knew what kind of swing would hit a repeatable 50 yard shot. Once I could hit it 50 yards in my sleep, I'd then add targets staggered on either side in 10 yard increments, building out an arsenal of dependable distances I knew I could produce. With the 50 yard swing as my anchor, it became very easy to increase or decrease swing length to get the desired result.
Following my time at Pelz, a great mentor of mine, Mike LaBauve, developed a highly effective scoring system to give players valuable feedback on the quality of their short game skills. I've used Mike's test over the years and if you ever have the pleasure of working with him, make sure he puts you through the ringer! This week's challenge was born from spending time with both of these great coaches and I'm forever grateful for the influence they've had on my career.
In looking at this week's video you might say it's unreasonable to exactly replicate this setup. I'm confident, however, that anyone can drop a towel 50 yards out on a practice tee or open field and do themselves some real good tuning up their short range shotmaking! Spend a little time trying to master your baseline 50-yard shot and you can count this challenge as complete.
Control Lower Scores