Playing an approach shot from the 50-yard range is one of the biggest challenges you can face on the golf course.

Alter Your Golf Techniques to Hit the Ball the Right Approach Distance

This shot often deceives the new golfer, as it doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult. After all, wouldn’t playing from 50 yards be quite a bit easier than playing from 100 yards, or 150? Not necessarily.

Since you probably can’t make a full swing from just 50 yards away, you will need to alter your technique slightly in order to hit the ball the right distance. These shots certainly aren’t impossible, but any experienced golfer can tell you that they are a lot tougher than they first appear.

In this article, we are going to provide advice on how you can handle this shot successfully. First, we need to break some bad news – you are never going to hit it close every time, from any distance. Golf is not a game which allows for perfect consistency, so you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. It is a worthwhile goal to improve your play from the 50-yard range, but don’t judge yourself against a perfect standard.

No golfer handles these shots (or any other shots) with a 100% success rate. You are going to hit bad shots from time to time – that’s just how golf works. Accept that fact as soon as possible and get down to work on making steady progress so that your bad shots become fewer and farther between.

One thing that should be obvious before we get started is the fact that you’ll need to practice these types of shots in order to make any real improvement. Sure, reading this article is a good start, but it isn’t going to help you much if you never actually get out and work on your skills. With that in mind, it’s important that you find a good place to practice your 50-yard shots.

While you can hit these shots on the range if you would like, it’s better to find a golf facility which offers a separate short game practice area that has enough room for 50-yard approaches. Not all golf facilities offer such a practice area, but hopefully you’ll be able to find at least one or two in your area that do.

All of the content 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.

Laying the Groundwork

Laying the Groundwork

Before you even make a swing to send the ball on its way, you first need to lay the groundwork for a successful shot by making some important decisions. There is a big mental component to the entire game of golf, and that certainly remains true on these tricky approach shots.

When you need to play into the green from approximately 50 yards away, you’ll want to be sure to make some clear decisions before hitting the shot.

What kinds of things do you need to sort out? Please review the list below.

  • Review the lie. Before you do anything else to get ready for this shot, you first need to assess the lie of the ball in the grass. Do you have a clean lie on the fairway, or is the ball sitting down in some rough?
  • The lie tells you everything about the kinds of shots which will be possible. From a clean fairway lie, you should be able to spin the ball and stop it quickly, which means you can be more aggressive in trying to hit the ball close to the hole. From the rough, you won’t get as much spin, so you’ll have less stopping power as a result.
  • Unless you are playing a course with particularly soft greens, you will probably need to take a more conservative path when you are hitting in from the rough as compared to the fairway. Only move on to the next step in the process when you have carefully reviewed the lie and determined what kinds of shots will be possible.
  • Pick a landing spot. Now that you know what to expect from the lie, you can decide on a landing spot which is going to serve as your target for the swing. It is important to note that you should consider the landing spot, not the hole itself, as your target. As the name would indicate, a landing spot is simply a spot on the ground where you would like the ball to land.
  • This is not the spot where the ball is going to end up (most likely), as it will still need to bounce and roll before it comes to rest. So, for example, you may pick a spot five yards short of the hole as your landing spot, so the ball can take a couple bounces before the spin takes over and the shot comes to rest.
  • There are a variety of factors which will influence how you pick out a landing spot. For one thing, you need to think about the condition of the course. A course which is playing firm and fast will usually yield bigger bounces and longer roll outs than a course which is soft. Also, do you use a ball with a high spin rate, or a harder ball focused on distance? You will need to think about many different variables as you decide where to land the shot.
  • While this task can be overwhelming at first, the good news is that you should get significantly better at picking landing spots as time goes by. With some practice and experience, the task of picking out the right landing spot for the shot at hand will become easier and easier.
  • Settle on a club. It is usually a good idea to pick a club after you have selected your landing spot, as the way you plan to bring the ball up to the hole is going to have an impact on the club you select. With that said, you are probably only picking between a couple of clubs here, at least in most cases. For instance, you may play most of your 50-yard approach shots with your lob wedge, but you might go down to your sand wedge from time to time based on the conditions.
  • It is unlikely that you would go any lower than that in your set, unless you are playing a true links course and you are going to play the ball down along the ground for most of the distance. During practice, try to get comfortable with two different clubs from this distance so you will have options available. Specifically, you should have a higher shot and a lower shot, the lower one being particularly useful on windy days while the higher one can help you access hole locations which are protected by slopes or hazards.
  • Decide on a mistake. At first, this surely seems like an odd tip. Why would you ‘decide’ on making a mistake? The idea here is that you need to decide where you are going to miss, if you miss at all. Basically, you need to identify the spot near the green that you want to do your best to avoid, and then play the ball away from that spot.
  • So, a great example of this concept is when playing a 50-yard shot to a target located over a water hazard from your current position. Since you are playing over the water, the mistake that must be avoided is obvious – you can’t come up short. While you would love to hit the ball the perfect distance and leave the shot right next to the cup, you need to err on the long side to be safe.
  • This concept is useful not only when playing short approach shots, but when playing virtually any shot during your round. Always identify the trouble spots on the course and do your best to stay away. In many ways, golf is about the mistakes that you don’t make. It isn’t always necessary to hit great shots in this game, as long as you can avoid making big mistakes which cost you multiple strokes on the same hole.

Making good decisions is one of the keys to playing good golf. If you can think clearly before hitting your 50-yard approach shots, your odds of success will immediately climb. Take your time to think through the points above when practicing these shots so that your decision-making process will be nearly automatic when you get out onto the course.

Making the Swing

Making the Swing

The swing technique you are going to use for these kinds of shots is a little different than what you will use when hitting a full shot from farther back in the fairway. The core of your technique will remain roughly the same, fortunately, but there are a number of changes that will be necessary in order to bring the overall distance of the shot down. In this section, we are going to identify three key adjustments that you should look at making when trying to learn how to hit 50-yard shots successfully.

It is not going to be good enough to simply store these adjustments in the back of your mind, only to break them out when you find yourself facing a 50-yard shot on the course. Rather, you need to try these out for yourself in practice before you consider using them during a round. Prepare yourself with sufficient practice so you have plenty of confidence going for you when the time comes to hit this shot for real.

Without further delay, let’s discuss the three adjustments you should consider when learning how to hit these short wedge shots.

  • Choke down at address. One of the best ways to take speed out of your swing, and distance off of your shots, is to choke down on the club at address. When you choke down, you shorten the effective length of the club, and as a result, you shorten the length of your swing.
  • As a result of that shorter swing, you should wind up with less speed through the hitting area and a shorter shot overall. You can choke down just slightly if you only want to take a few yards off the shot, and you can choke several inches down for a more dramatic effect.
  • While this is a relatively simple adjustment, it is one that you will need to practice frequently in order to make it comfortable. The feel of the club is going to change when you choke down, so hitting plenty of shots like this in practice will help you get the hang of it.
  • Move the ball slightly back in your stance. As compared to your standard wedge shots, you are going to want to move the ball back in your stance a bit when playing from 50 yards. This will help ensure that you are able to hit down on the ball, which is crucial in terms of creating backspin and stopping the ball in a timely manner after it lands on the green.
  • This is another adjustment that you can vary based on the type of shot you would like to hit. When you want to hit the ball particularly low, try moving the ball way back in your stance for a low launch. If you want a more standard trajectory, place the ball near the middle of your stance instead.
  • Quiet hands. This is where many golfers get tripped up. It is relatively easy to make the first two adjustments, as long as you are willing to put in a little bit of practice time to get comfortable with those changes. On this point, however, you are going to have to make a more substantial adjustment to the way you swing the club.
  • Instead of using your hands actively through the hitting area, you are going to attempt to keep your hands quiet while you turn your body through the ball to hit the shot. You don’t need that extra hand action to produce speed since this is such a short shot, and keeping your hands quiet will improve your consistency dramatically. At first, the technique of keeping your hands quiet through the ball will feel awkward. Stick with it, however, and you should see some gradual progress until you are able to play the ball nicely into the green with this repeatable technique.

During an upcoming practice session, try focusing on these three keys when working on your short wedge shots. If you stick with your basic swing technique, but use these three adjustments to accommodate for the short distance of the shot, you should be on the right track.



As you continue to work on this shot, there are likely to be some problems which pop up along the way. In this section, we are going to touch on some troubleshooting points which may be able to help you get over those problems and continue on the path toward a solid wedge game from the 50-yard range.

  • Fat shots. One of the common issues seen by amateur golfers when playing these types of shots is hitting the ball fat. While there are a number of potential causes for any fat shot, the likely cause here is a poor turn through the ball in the downswing.
  • Specifically, it is probable that you are failing to turn your lower body all the way through the shot. Instead, your legs and hips may be slowing down or even stopping as you approach impact. This mistake is common when the player feels like he or she is going to hit the ball too far.
  • You need to trust your preparation and simply swing all the way through the ball into a balanced finish. As you gain experience, you will get more and more comfortable with how much you can turn through the ball while still producing a shot that flies the right distance.
  • Thin shots. On the other end of the spectrum, some golfers will struggle with thin shots when playing from this distance. If that is happening to you, it’s likely that you are making one of the classic golf mistakes – looking up early to see where the ball is going to go.
  • You may be a little nervous about this shot, so you might find yourself tempted to look up prematurely to track the flight of the ball. Don’t fall into that trap. Looking up early is not going to help you in any way, so you might as well keep your head down and do your best to strike the ball cleanly. If you can teach yourself the discipline necessary to stay down all the way through impact, your odds of success are going to go way up.
  • Missing your line. Most of the attention on this shot is going to be paid to hitting the ball the right distance, as that is your primary challenge. With that said, you still need to make sure that you get the ball on line if you are going to hit it close and set up a short putt.
  • When you miss your line frequently on these kinds of shots, there is a good chance the issue is actually your aim rather than the swing itself. It’s hard to hit the ball badly off line from this close to the target unless you are aimed incorrectly to begin with. Make sure you are aiming correctly in practice so that this issue doesn’t wind up giving you trouble on the course.

Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated if you have some trouble with your 50-yard wedge shots. This is a tough part of the game, and it is perfectly normal to lose your way from time to time. Instead of getting mad, stay focused on the task at hand and work on finding a solution to your problem as soon as possible.

Avoiding this Distance

Avoiding this Distance

To finish up this article, we are going to shift slightly and talk about how you can stay away from 50-yard approach shots as often as possible. Here’s the thing – even if you do practice this shot, and even if you do improve your ability from this range, it’s still going to be a tough shot.

The smart golfer does his or her best to simply stay out of this range whenever possible. You’ll still wind up here from time to time, but playing too many shots from this distance is a sign that your course management strategy needs work.

The best way to stay out of this distance range is to think strategically right from the very first shot of each hole. Don’t just fire a tee shot down the fairway before you even stop to think about how the rest of the hole is going to play out. What’s your plan for making your way onto the green? How many shots is it going to take to reach the putting surface if everything goes well? Plan your path out carefully and then do your best to execute on that plan.

It is often the case that golfers will play their way into the 50-yard range with the second shot on a par five. Unable to reach the green in two, the player will still hit a fairway wood or hybrid up toward the green – often winding up in this awkward range. Instead of making this mistake, try laying back further so you can hit a full wedge into the target. This is a simple course management decision which can dramatically improve your scoring on par fives.

Even the best golfers in the world sweat a little bit when they are faced with a 50-yard wedge shot, so don’t be ashamed if you are a little intimidated from this distance. We hope the tips offered in this article will help you handle these shots more successfully as you move forward with your game.

Indeed, playing an approach shot from the 50-yard range can be a challenging task on the golf course. This distance requires a delicate touch and precise execution to get the ball close to the hole. Here are some tips to help you tackle this challenge:

  1. Assess the Situation: Before approaching the shot, assess the conditions and factors that may influence your approach. Consider factors such as wind direction, slope of the green, pin placement, and any hazards or bunkers that may come into play. This evaluation will help you make an informed decision on the type of shot to play.
  2. Select the Right Club: Choosing the appropriate club is crucial for a successful approach shot from 50 yards. Typically, a wedge (such as a pitching wedge or sand wedge) is a suitable choice for this distance. However, it's essential to consider your own swing characteristics and the specific conditions you're facing. Experiment with different clubs during practice sessions to find the one that consistently delivers the desired trajectory and distance.
  3. Control Your Swing: Precision is key when executing approach shots from a short distance. Focus on controlling your swing tempo and maintaining a smooth, balanced motion. Avoid overswinging or trying to hit the ball too hard, as it can lead to a lack of control and inconsistent results. Instead, focus on solid contact and a controlled, controlled swing that produces a reliable distance.
  4. Visualize the Shot: Before hitting the ball, take a moment to visualize the shot you want to execute. Imagine the trajectory, the landing spot, and the roll-out towards the hole. This mental preparation helps create a clear picture in your mind and enhances your focus and commitment to the shot.
  5. Practice Distance Control: Spend time practicing your approach shots from the 50-yard range during practice sessions. Work on developing a consistent feel for the distance and trajectory required. Experiment with different swing lengths, follow-throughs, and club selections to develop a repertoire of shots for various situations you may encounter on the course.
  6. Learn from Experience: Each approach shot presents a learning opportunity, regardless of the outcome. Pay attention to the results of your shots and analyze what worked well and what needs improvement. Adjust your approach based on your observations, and use that knowledge to refine your technique and decision-making process.

Remember, practice and experience are essential for mastering approach shots from any distance. Be patient with yourself, remain focused, and embrace the challenge. With time and dedication, you'll gain confidence and improve your ability to navigate the 50-yard range effectively.


Altering Techniques to Hit the Right Approach Distance:

  1. Club Selection:
    • Choose the appropriate club based on the distance to the target. Selecting a club with the right loft and distance capability is fundamental to hitting the ball the correct approach distance.
  2. Swing Length:
    • Adjust the length of your backswing and follow-through based on the desired distance. A longer backswing and follow-through generally result in more distance, while a shorter motion can control the distance.
  3. Grip Pressure:
    • Experiment with grip pressure. A firmer grip may add power to the swing, while a lighter grip can promote better touch and control for shorter distances.
  4. Ball Position:
    • Alter the ball position in your stance. Placing the ball farther back in your stance may promote a lower ball flight and reduced distance, while moving it forward can lead to a higher trajectory.
  5. Body Rotation:
    • Adjust the amount of rotation in your body during the swing. More rotation can generate additional power, while less rotation may result in a more controlled and shorter shot.
  6. Wrist Hinge:
    • Control the amount of wrist hinge in your backswing. Increased wrist hinge can add power, and reduced hinge can help control the distance.
  7. Clubface Control:
    • Pay attention to the clubface angle at impact. A square clubface tends to produce straighter shots, while an open or closed face can influence the direction and distance.
  8. Weight Shift:
    • Modify the distribution of weight during the swing. Shifting more weight to the front foot can help produce a lower and controlled ball flight for shorter distances.
  9. Tempo and Rhythm:
    • Adjust your swing tempo and rhythm. A smoother and slower tempo can contribute to better control, while a faster tempo may add distance.
  10. Practice and Calibration:
    • Spend time on the practice range calibrating your swings for different distances. Develop a feel for how changes in technique influence the ball's flight.

10 Q&A on Altering Techniques to Hit the Right Approach Distance:

  1. Q: How do I determine the right club for a specific approach distance?
    • A: Consider the distance to the target, your shot preferences, and factors like wind and elevation. Experimenting on the range helps identify the right club for various distances.
  2. Q: Should I use a full swing for every approach shot?
    • A: No, adjusting the length of your swing based on the required distance is key. Use a full swing for longer shots and modify it for shorter approach distances.
  3. Q: How can I control the height of my approach shots?
    • A: Ball position, club selection, and the angle of attack can influence shot height. Experiment with these factors during practice.
  4. Q: Is it better to focus on distance control or accuracy in approach shots?
    • A: Both are important, but accuracy is often prioritized. Controlling distance ensures the ball lands in the desired area.
  5. Q: What role does the lie of the ball play in approach shots?
    • A: The lie influences the trajectory and spin. Adjust your technique based on whether the ball is on an uphill, downhill, or flat lie.
  6. Q: How can I add more spin to my approach shots?
    • A: Focusing on a clean and crisp strike, using a more lofted club, and generating ample clubhead speed can increase spin.
  7. Q: Should I make swing adjustments for shots into the wind or with a tailwind?
    • A: Yes, adjust your technique for wind conditions. Shots into the wind may require a lower ball flight, while shots with a tailwind may need more loft.
  8. Q: Can altering my grip help control the distance of approach shots?
    • A: Yes, experimenting with grip pressure and grip adjustments can influence both power and control.
  9. Q: How can I improve my feel for approach shot distances?
    • A: Regular practice and experimenting with different clubs for specific distances can enhance your feel for approach shots.
  10. Q: Should I make technique adjustments for uphill and downhill approach shots?
    • A: Yes, adapt your technique for slope conditions. Uphill shots may require more club, while downhill shots may need less to control distance.

Remember that consistency in approach shots comes with practice and understanding how your adjustments influence the outcome. It's beneficial to work with a golf instructor to receive personalized guidance based on your swing characteristics.