My Golf Instructor

Distance Control

Distance Control can refer to controlling the length that a golf ball travels with a full golf shot or the distance that the ball rolls on the putting green. Factors such as club length, club selection, swing length, pivot, swing speed, etc. all factor into how far the ball will travel. Distance Control requires calculating and controlling all these factors together to get the desired distance for the shot.

Distance Control Drills

Distance Control Tips

(Click on Title or Image to View Larger Photos)

  • Go For Minimum Air, Maximum Roll

    For most bump and run chip shots imagine 1/3 carry in the air and 2/3 roll on the ground. This of course can vary a bit, but the idea is to have minimum air and maximum roll. When you keep the ball low you simply have more control, don't have to worry about the wind affecting the flight and can use the green to funnel the ball towards the hole. Throwing a ball up into the air is much more risky.

  • Strike Close for More Spin

    For sand shots, to control the distance of your shot and the spin on the ball, you can alter how close to the ball you enter the sand. The closer you hit to the ball and the less sand you take, the more spin you will get and the further the ball will fly. The more sand you take and the further you hit behind the ball, the less the ball will fly and the more the ball will release on the green.

  • Sudden Acceleration Throws Off Consistency

    Keep the back swing and forward swing as one movement to control distance. Any independent movements or sudden acceleration will make speed control very inconsistent. For this reason it is important to let your big muscles (back, shoulders, abdominals) control the stroke. Getting the little muscles of your wrists and hands too involved makes it hard to keep the stroke smooth.

  • Play it Forward for Optimum Spin

    Play the ball forward of the center of your stance. This will help control spin which in turn will result in more consistent distance. If you are varying where you play the ball in your stance you will be imparting backspin on some putts and top spin on others. Top spin is ideal. With backspin, the ball may skid at first slowing the initial velocity and overall, you will not get that good accelerating roll to the hole.

  • 3 Putts Are More Common on Downhill Putts

    Practice downhill putts more than uphill. 3 putts happen more often when the first putt is downhill rather than uphill. This is because it can be so difficult to control the speed. By practicing the length of your backstroke on downhill putts on the practice green you will be better able to monitor it on the course.

  • Your Rear Side Applies the Power

    Putt with right hand or rear hand only. The theory here is that it is the rear side that applies the power. In your full swing your left side pulls and your right side pushes (if you are right handed). So if you can develop feel or touch with your right hand only, your distance control will become much more accurate.

  • Reading the Green Correctly is as Important as Picking the Right Speed

    Read for speed. Getting the read right is just as important as getting the speed correct. Consider an up hill right to left breaking putt. If you under read the break it could cause your ball to pick up speed and roll too far. The opposite is true for over reading. If you play it too high, the ball can slow up leaving the putt short.

  • Change Your Backswing to Change Your Distance

    To control distance you can either change the length of your back swing or change the amount of power or "oomf" you put into the putt. I believe varying your back swing length is the easier and a better way to go. Experiment with different back swing lengths and see how far back you need to swing the putter for varying distances.

  • Accelerate to Impact

    To hit solid putts and control distance make sure you keep accelerating consistently to impact. It should be a constant acceleration, not a sudden acceleration. Sudden bursts of energy are going to make distance control nearly impossible. Your swing should feel like an even pendulum accelerating just a bit to the ball.

  • Open Your Stance to Shorten Your Backswing

    To shorten your backswing on your pitches and control distance try standing with a slightly open stance. I saw slightly because you don't want to stand so open that you alter your swing path and force pulled or cut shots. When your front foot sits just a bit behind your back foot though, it limits your shoulder turn on the backswing and is an easy way to help control the amount that you wind up. Try a narrow and slightly open stance and see if you don't gain more control.

  • Vary Backswing Length to Control Distance

    To vary distance on pitch shots, vary the length of your backswing. A short backswing with a sand wedge that reaches only to where the shaft is parallel to the ground is going to fly the ball about 20-40 yards for most players. A medium backswing where the left arm would reach parallel to the ground is 40-60 yards and a 3/4 backswing can be anywhere from 60-100 depending on the player and the wedge that they are using.

  • The Bigger Your Grip, The Less Wristy You Will Be

    Try a fat grip. If you are having major troubles with speed control, chances are your hands and wrists may be too involved. When the little muscles are over active, it's hard to be consistent. You could try to wrap your grip with tennis grip tape to fatten it up or purchase a new grip altogether like the super fat one that you may have seen K.J. Choi use. The bigger the grip and the more you have to palm it and the stiffer your wrists will be.

  • Fringe Putting Builds Touch

    Try fringe putting. Grab 1 -3 balls and throw them down on the green to begin putting to the fringe. Putt to points all around the green, both long and short, to work on your speed without the pressure of having to hole the putt. Work on uphill, downhill and sidehill putts as well. Eliminating the cup can help you to keep your focus on distance control.

  • Monitor Backwing Length to Control Distance

    When chipping, let the length of your back stroke help control your distance. You can always switch clubs and go down in loft to get more roll out of the shot, but within that you still need to be able to control the length of the pendulum motion. A larger pendulum is going to send the ball further just as it does when you are putting.

  • Visualize 2/3 Carry, 1/3 Roll

    When pitching, visualize the ball being in the air 2/3 of the way and then rolling on the ground 1/3 of the way. This doesn't hold true for all shots as there is a variety of pitch shots such as a lob or a low punch that will require different trajectories, but for your average shot this is a good visual. When you imagine the ball flying 2/3 you can then pick your landing spot on the green which is the most important key to focus on if you want to get your shots close.

  • In Sand You Get 50%

    When you are hitting greenside bunker shots, use this trick to help determine distance and the length of your swing. Expect the ball to go about 50% of your normal pitch shot with the same swing. If your half swing sends a pitch shot 50 yards with your sand wedge, then expect it to send a greenside bunker shot 25 yards. The loss of distance is the effect the sand has when it gets caught between your clubface and the ball.

  • Make Shallow Dollar Bills

    When you are in a greenside bunker make a splash that is shallow and about the size of a dollar bill. It should feel like you are smacking the sand with the back of the clubhead and then coming right out. If your splash feels heavy or digs down too much, you are taking too deep of a splash. To practice this try putting a tee in the sand with just the top of it showing. Then hit balls trying to pick the ball off the top of the tee. This will get you out of digging and teach you to make a shallow splash.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
- Golf Questions
Golf instruction made simple
Golf Overview
Overall Game
- Getting Started
- Equipment
- Golf Fitness
- Junior Golf
- Mental Game
- Practice
- Rules of Golf
Short Game
- Bunkers
- Chipping
- Pitching
- Putting
Full Swing
- Pre-Swing Fundamentals
- Shot Making
- Diagnosing Problems
- Driving
- Hybrids and Woods
- Irons
Playing Golf
Ball Striking
- Fitness (78)
- Course Management (82)
- Getting Started in Golf (75)
- Practice (66)
Course Management
- Club Selection (66)
- Equipment (107)
- Driving (68)
- Putting (127)
- Golf Rules (69)
Short Game
- Bump and Run (72)
- Chipping (82)
Ball Striking
- Chunking (79)
- Distance Control (86)
- Fat Shots (92)
- Flipping (48)
- Poor Accuracy (118)
- Slicing (48)
- Thin Shots (85)
- Topped Shots (52)
- Lack of Distance (108)
- Putting Accuracy (72)
Swing Plane
- Blocking (50)
- Inside Out (56)
- Outside In (59)
- Over the Top (49)
- Pulling (54)
- Pushing (66)
- Releasing Early (47)
The Swing
- Grip (65)
- Alignment (55)
- Balance (50)
- Ball Position (80)
- Posture (77)
- Setup (117)
Swing Plane
- Backswing (84)
- Controlling Trajectory (47)
- Divot (48)
- Downswing (67)
- Impact (103)
- On Plane (85)
- Path (84)
- Power (71)
- Shaft Plane (63)
- Swing Plane (112)
- Weight Shift (79)