Being able to play your best golf shots from inside 100 yards is a great skill for any golfer to possess. 100 yards and in on any golf hole is the scoring zone and playing effective, accurate shots from within this distance will make all the difference to your score and it's not hard to do with a good strategy.
To achieve your best shots from inside 100 yards, create a wedge chart. This is a chart that displays the yardage that you hit various shots. Go to the range or practice ground and hit 10 full shots with your sand iron, then pitching wedge, then 9 iron and so on. Work out the average distance that each of the clubs goes until you get to 100 yards and write this on to your chart.
You then need to play 10 more balls working on positions that are less than a full swing. Imagine a clock face in front of you, with 12 o'clock up by your head and 6 o'clock down by the ball. Hit 10 shots to get an average of the distance that you hit your sand iron to when playing a 9 o'clock, 3 o'clock swing with a good tempo. Then do the same for a 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock swing with a good tempo. Do the same for your pitching wedge swinging to the two positions and note down the distance that the ball travels on average with each swing position. Work on achieving the correct swing position, good tempo and a good strike from the club face.
Keep doing this, with the next lofted club to that just used, until you have no gaps in yardage on your chart.
Your chart will show you what club to use, what tempo to swing at and what swing position to achieve for a shot that travels 100 yards, then 90 yards, then 80 yards, then 70 yards etc, all the way down in increments from 100 yards.
If you create a yardage chart in this way, then when you are faced with a particular distance out on the course, you can just look up that distance on your chart and then you will have the confidence to know how to achieve that distance. Use a course planner, a range finder or a GPS system to help you accurately ascertain the distance that you are faced with for the shot you are about to hit and then refer to your yardage chart to make a better decision on how to achieve that distance with accuracy.
Formulating your own yardage chart will really help you to hit your ball much closer to the pin by taking the guess work out of the shot, leaving you more confident in your ability to hit the ball close and to save yourself shots when you are within the scoring zone.
How to Play the Best Shots Inside 100 Yards
The majority of the game of golf is played from inside 100 yards. Sure, the long shots are fun to hit, but your score at the end of the day is largely going to be determined by how well you perform within close range of the green. Professional golfers are able to handle all of the shots that they face around the course, but they are particularly adept at knocking the ball close to the hole once they get within 100 yards of the green. If you would like to take your scoring to a new level in the months and years ahead, this is the part of the game that should receive the bulk of your attention.
Of course, most amateur golfers ignore the importance of this part of the game, instead spending most of their practice time swinging away at the driver. Make no mistake – it is important to drive the ball well. However, if you don't match that driving with a quality short range game, you will never live up to your potential. It is the big drives that usually draw compliments from your playing partners, but it is the short shots that lead to pars and birdies. Learn how to wedge the ball close to the hole time after time and you be on a fast path toward your best-ever golf.
In this article, we are going to offer up a collection of tips on how you can raise your level of performance from inside 100 yards. Specifically, we are going to be covering shots in the range of 30-100 yards, as shots closer than 30 yards fall into the 'pitching' category, which is another article altogether. If you take the time to review the instruction below carefully, you should come away with plenty of ideas on how you can improve your wedge play. Not only will this instruction have to do with your physical technique, but it will also cover the strategy that is needed to play great shots from close range. You might not think of shots from inside 100 yards as being the most exciting part of golf, but this is exactly where you need to focus your attention if you wish to become a better overall player.
To give yourself the best possible chance to improve your wedge game, it would be ideal to find a golf course near your home that has an expansive short game practice area. You are unlikely to find a short game area that has enough space to allow you to hit 100 yard shots, but you may be able to find a facility with space to swing from 50 or 60 yards. Being able to hit these shots in a short game area rather than having to play them on the range is an advantage because you can use your own golf balls and you can hit them over and over again. Take a look around at the courses near you to determine which offers the best facilities for practicing the wedge game.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Rather than faulty physical technique, it is actually mental mistakes that give the average golfer the most trouble within the wedge game. You do need to make a quality swing from this short distance – and we will get to that later in the article – but you first need to understand the right strategy to use when playing from inside 100 yards. For the typical golfer, the strategy employed from this distance is quite simple – aim at the flag, swing hard, send the ball high into the air, and hope for the best. As you might imagine, this strategy is somewhat less than ideal. To give yourself a better chance at placing the ball near to the hole, review the points listed below.
- Keep the ball low. This is a point that many amateur golfers are surprised to see listed with regard to the wedge game. Since your wedges have high degrees of loft, you might assume that you should be sending your wedge shots as high up into the air as you can. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the best way to play wedges is to keep the ball as close to the ground as possible while still stopping it in time. When you hit the ball low, you will have greater control over both the distance and direction of the shot. Controlling distance is the name of the game with your wedges, and learning how to play low shots with these clubs will instantly improve your distance control. Tossing the ball high up into the air brings too many variables into play – such as the wind, a high spin rate, and more – so you will never be as consistent as possible. With a lower shot, however, the spin rate comes down and the wind is virtually taken out of play. Also, you are going to make a softer swing when playing the ball low, so it will be easier to make solid contact. There will be more on this point later in the article, but rest assured that playing the ball low with your wedges is one of the best tips you can receive for shots inside 100 yards.
- Pick a smart target. This is another point that you may not have thought of previously. When you pull a wedge from your bag, the natural inclination is to simply aim directly at the hole. After all, you are trying to set up a short putt, so why wouldn't you aim at the hole? Well, there are a couple of potential reasons why you may want to alter your aim slightly. First, you want to make sure that you actually hit the green. If the hole is cut close to an edge, it would be a wise choice to aim to the wide side just to give yourself some margin for error. You should have relatively good control over the direction of your wedge shots, but no one is 100% accurate with any club in this game. Aim at least a few feet toward the fat part of the green and greatly increase your chances of placing the ball on the putting surface. Also, picking a smart target can help you set up an uphill putt. If the cup is cut on a significant slope, favor your aim toward the low side to allow yourself to putt up toward the cup as often as possible. You can be more aggressive when putting uphill as opposed to putting downhill, and that added aggression should translate into more makes (and fewer three putts).
- Read your lie. The lie of the golf ball is always important when hitting any kind of shot, but it is particularly important when playing a wedge into the green. With a clean lie in the fairway, you can feel free to play aggressively, knowing you should have good distance control and plenty of spin. The story changes from a poor lie, however, as longer grass will take spin off of your shots. When you do have to play into the green from a lie in the rough, aim closer to the center of the green and place an emphasis on just getting the ball somewhere on the putting surface. Even if you leave yourself with a long putt, that result will be better than knocking the ball into deeper trouble.
If you do nothing else to improve your wedge game from inside 100 yards, simply implementing the three tips above will go a long way toward making you a better player. Learn how to keep the ball down, play to smart targets, and always pay attention to the lie of the ball in the grass (or sand).
Wedge Swing Tips
You don't want to make very many significant changes in your swing technique when it comes time to hit a wedge. For the most part, your swing is going to stay the same from your long clubs all the way down into your wedges. Your technique is your technique, and trying to change it drastically is a recipe for certain failure. However, there are a few minor adjustments that you are going to need to make if you hope to hit quality wedge shots round after round.
To make sure you are adjusting your full swing correctly when you have a wedge in your hands, review the following tips.
- Play the ball in the center of your stance. Most golfers know that they need to move the ball back slightly in their stance when hitting a wedge. What many players don't know, however, is that the ball shouldn't move back behind the midpoint of your stance (unless you are playing from a bad lie, which is another conversation). For an average full-swing wedge shot from the fairway, set your ball position perfectly in the middle of your stance and move on. Playing from this center position will make it easier to keep your balance during the swing, and staying balanced is the biggest step toward solid ball striking.
- Swing with your shoulders. Since you aren't trying to hit the ball very far, you might be tempted to cut down on your shoulder turn while hitting wedge shots. That would be a serious mistake. Instead, you should be cutting down on your hand action during the swing, allowing your shoulders to do most of the work. By swinging the club back and through predominately with your shoulder turn, you can control the speed of the swing with ease. There is too much inconsistency in a swing that uses mostly hand and wrist action, so keep your small muscles out of the picture and use shoulder turn to move the club. This type of wedge swing might feel a bit awkward at first, but it will quickly become comfortable as you see just how reliable it can be.
- Finish the swing. This is a tip that can apply to all the shots you hit around the course, but it is particularly important here because many golfers cut off their wedge swings before reaching a full finish. Even if you are only hitting the ball 50 or 60 yards on a given shot, be sure to accelerate through the hitting area all the way into your finish. Your finish position won't be quite as 'dramatic' as it is when hitting a driver, but you should still be moving nicely onto your left side. By finishing each wedge swing that you make, your odds of catching the ball cleanly will be increased and your accuracy should improve as well.
Again, you don't want to be making any crazy changes to your swing technique when hitting wedge shots from inside of 100 yards. However, you do want to make some minor adjustments, such as those listed above. Spend some time on the range – or in the short game practice area – working on fine tuning your technique with the help of these tips.
Producing Low Wedge Shots
Earlier in this article, we pointed out the importance of hitting your wedge shots as low as possible when playing from inside 100 yards. Now, we are going to take a look at that topic in greater detail. It will take a bit of practice to produce low wedge shots that come to a stop close to the hole, but it will be worth your effort in the end. Once you learn how to hit this kind of shot, you will wonder how you ever put the ball close to the hole back when you used to take the high road.
The first thing you need to understand about low wedge shots is the fact that they have to be hit with a soft swing. If you are swinging hard when playing a wedge, the ball is going to spin at a high rate – and that means the ball is going to climb high into the air. To keep the ball down you have to keep the spin down, and to keep the spin down you have to swing softly. You can certainly go after you tee shots with everything you have, but those kinds of swings need to stay out of your wedge game. When inside 100 yards, sheer power should give way to touch and finesse. A gentle, controlled swing is the best way to go when trying to wedge the ball close to the hole.
At this point, you may be thinking that swinging soft comes along with one specific problem – getting the ball all the way to the hole. How are you going to reach the target if you are always swinging softly with your wedges? Simple – you are going to use more club than you need for a given distance. For instance, if you are capable of hitting your lob wedge 80 yards with a full swing, you are going to use your sand wedge instead of your lob wedge when you reach that 80-yard mark. Then, instead of having to make a full swing, you can make a softer swing to bring the ball in low. This same principle applies no matter what kind of distances you can achieve with your wedges. Rather than making full swings, you should always be looking to take one extra club while using a soft swing.
Of course, you are going to have to practice this technique in order to be able to hit the ball the proper distance time after time. If you are used to hitting your wedge shots high in the air, there will be a period of adjustment that you have to go through before you are comfortable keeping the ball down near the ground. Spend plenty of time working on these kinds of swings during practice to get comfortable with the technique required. This is what would be classified as a 'feel' shot, meaning you are simply going to need repetition in order to improve your performance. Stick with it, and you will eventually feel quite confident in these types of low wedge shots.
While it is desirable to play low wedge shots in most cases, there are times when you will need to put the ball high up into the air. Usually, those occasions take place when the greens are extremely dry and firm. When playing on hard greens, you probably won't' be able to come in low because the first couple of bounces will send your ball over the back of the putting surface. If you notice that the greens are becoming quite hard as you play, adjust your strategy and hit the ball higher to use both trajectory and spin to your advantage. The ball will be coming down from a greater height which should shorten the first bounce, and you will have a higher spin rate which will help the ball to grab after that first bounce. Play the ball low on wedge shots whenever possible, but be ready to use a higher trajectory when the conditions require such a strategy.
At this point, you should have a good idea of how to go about producing quality shots from inside 100 yards. However, there are still some other points that need to be mentioned before we wrap up the article, and those are listed below.
- Be careful when the adrenaline flows. When you are 'pumped up' prior to hitting a wedge shot, be careful to turn your swing down even more to avoid sending the ball over the green. Adrenaline can mess with the feel that you have for these kinds of shots, meaning you might suddenly hit the ball farther than expected. There is no mechanical adjustment that you can make for this situation, so you simply need to be aware of it. Do your best to control your emotions, relax before making the swing, and focus on the task at hand.
- Give bunkers plenty of clearance. There is a lot to like about hitting low wedge shots into the greens. However, there is one potential drawback that might come back to bite you from time to time – the possibility of plugging the ball in the face of a bunker. If the hole is cut a short distance over the top of a greenside bunker, you might be tempted to land the ball just barely over the sand. That is a risky shot, however, because a low wedge that comes up short and lands in the bunker might plug in the face. Plugging your ball in the face of the bunker can easily cost you a shot or two, so give yourself some margin for error on this kind of shot.
- Use the right ball. Many golfers select their golf ball based on which one is going to fly the farthest when struck with a driver. That is a mistake, however, as you should be picking your ball first and foremost based on its performance in the short game. Test out a variety of golf ball options while hitting wedge shots and pick the one that is going to let you hit low, controlled approach shots which stop cold after just a couple of bounces.
Make no mistake – developing your ability to hit accurate wedge shots from inside 100 yards can dramatically lower your scores in short order. Your wedges are called scoring clubs for a reason. When used properly, wedges are able to set up short birdie and par putts, meaning you can quickly move your average score in the right direction. Of course, nothing is going to come easy in golf, so you are going to have to work hard to improve this important area of the game. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and good luck with your shots from inside 100 yards!