Manage Your Distance With A Clock


During this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, the elevation changes will require PGA Tour players to hit a variety of shots in order to achieve the distance control necessary to score low and win.

With this in mind, we are going to talk today about the often dreaded three quarter and half shots that can be extremely difficult to execute if not done correctly. The most common mistake I see in these shots is an attempt to swing the club slower in order to hit a shorter shot. By maintaining a full back swing and trying to change the speed, most players will have a tendency to decelerate on the downswing and stop at impact which often results in the dreaded chunk shot.

Swing Physics

In order to discuss the proper way to execute these shots, we are going to talk about some physics. Altering the distance that the ball will travel involves altering the clubhead speed at impact. A properly executed golf swing involves a constant acceleration from the top of the backswing all the way through the ball to the finish. Think about it this way: If you simply drop a club from your waist, it will be traveling slower than if you drop it from above your head even though the rate of acceleration is the same.

The Fix

With this concept in mind, simply making a shorter backswing while maintaining the same rate of acceleration will result in a slower speed at impact and a shorter shot. As long as you maintain your natural tempo and finish the swing through the ball, you will be much more successful in hitting those less than full shots.

With all of this in mind, the next time you are at the range, experiment with different length backswings while focusing on maintaining the same amount of perceived effort on your part and see how the resulting distance varies. With a little practice, you can master these shots and more effectively manage your distance control leading to closer approach shots and lower scores.


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Chris Wadwick

Chris Wadwick has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2011. He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Business Administration. He brings a deep understanding of the inner workings of the golf business, especially club fittings, product knowledge, and visual merchandising, working for Dick’s Sporting Goods for over 7 years and Occoneechee Golf Club for more than three years, prior to that. When he is not in the office, you can always find him at a nearby golf course, attending games at his alma mater, or spending time with his wife and four dogs.