The explosive shots from the tee or the fairway surely look nice, right? But is hitting as hard as you can the goal of golf? Definitely not! If you’ve ever watched professional golf, the PGA Tour, for example, you must’ve seen how amazing the players’ distance control is.
So, how do they control their distance? Based on what? That’s where the scoring zones come into play. When you’re at a golf course, the entire course is not your playground. Instead, you have a few selected zones where you need to land the ball with each of your shots before finally putting it into the hole.
In this post today, we’re going to explore the scoring zones and learn how to control your distance to get the ball there.
Why is Distance Control Important?
It’s a fair question to ask. Anyone who doesn’t have substantial experience with the sport is free to ask the question. If you have the same question, let us answer it for you.
The entire goal of distance control is to reduce the number the shots you need to complete a round. If you know how the scoring system works, you’d know that there is a minimum threshold for a successful golf round.
While the length of each shot differs from course to course, it’s safe to say that 100 yards are the range when distance control is most important.
You want control over your shots to hit more greens consistently. If you fail in this regard, you’re most likely to end up in greenside bunkers. The rescue shots will add to your total score, giving you a higher handicap. You certainly don’t want it, do you?
Another reason you would want to master distance control is closer putts. We all know that the longer the putt, the riskier it is. Conversely, the closer you get to the flag pole, the more likely it is that you’ll hole the ball.
The bottom line is that you can’t rely on fate and see where each of your shots land. You need to prepare yourself to control the ball at all times, not the other way around.
Let’s look at a few steps you can follow to control your distance at the course like never before.
How to Master Distance Control
Similar to any other skill in golf, mastering distance won’t come to you overnight. You need to dedicate yourself into the art and build up your inventory over time. What we can do is give you the right pointers.
Here are the most important steps for controlling your distance like a pro.
If you’re a casual golfer, you may not have a rangefinder with you all the time. Most people go to the course to have fun rather than getting stuck into the technical details. However, when your goal is to control the distance of your shots, what better way to start than measuring it?
There are different kinds of rangefinders available on the market. You can learn all about range finders here.
You don’t need the best-in-class rangefinder for distance control purposes. But whatever you get, make sure it gives you an accurate reading. The last thing you want is to build up your skills the wrong way.
Keep the rangefinder handy when you’re at the course and measure the distance before every shot. You’ll automatically feel more confident because you’d be making an informed decision regarding the club selection instead of an educated guess.
Practice. Practice. Practice
Gaining control over your distance is the same as developing any other skills. You want to practice as much as you can to develop your muscle memory and your understanding of the game. You should be spending time at the driving range along with your rangefinder and a bag full of clubs.
In an ideal scenario, you should master a club for every distance. What we mean by that is you need to develop a sense of distance with each of your clubs. For example, you should be confident with your driver that you can hit 200 yards on any course. The same rule applies to your woods, irons, and wedges.
When you know the information, you can translate the distance you get from your rangefinder and put it to work. It’s especially important for wedges because the room for mistakes shirks drastically.
Another important thing to practice is knockdown shots. It’s when you choke up on the club to tweak the shaft length. It comes in handy when it’s too windy or you’re on an uneven lie.
Work on Your Pre-Shot Routine
Shooting lower scores is not always about going for the flag. In fact, it’s the opposite. Even professional players don’t always aim for the flag when they’re prepping their shot. It includes using the range finder to find the juiciest section of the green instead of the flag.
The reason is that you can’t predict how a shot will pan out from 200 yards away. So, if you aim for the flag, you’ll most likely land on the narrow part of the green. Instead, you need to aim for the widest or fattest part of the green, even if it means missing the flag and going overboard.
What it’ll do is give you more room for putting adjustments. When you land on a relatively flat surface with lots of room to move around and read the green, you automatically increase your chances of lowering your score.
A simple rule to follow here is that you should only aim for the flag when you’re playing with a wedge. In the cases of drivers, irons, and woods, you should focus on the fat part of the green.
Don’t Forget the Tempo
Getting into a nice and smooth tempo is almost always the key to success in every physical task. You need to synchronize your mind and body to work in harmony rather than trying to overpower each other.
Developing tempo may take a long time if you’re not used to it. It’s hard to explain what tempo is through text. You can feel it when your tempo is right. And if you spend enough time at the driving range working on your swings, you’ll eventually pick up your own tempo.
From there, it’s a matter of retaining the speed and swing smoothness through the shots. You need to accelerate through the shots rather than decelerating to make sure you’re hitting your desired distance mark.
Play in Different Weather Conditions
Just like any other sport, the weather has a huge impact on how you play golf. If you only practice in normal conditions, you won’t have the insights you need if the weather goes bad. So, you need to practice in windy conditions, muddy conditions, and even during the winter.
All of these weather types require you to adapt to the situations and change your playing style. For example, if you can hit the driver for 200 yards on a normal day, it might drop to 180 yards in strong wind. The goal of practice is to figure out how much distance you actually lose.
Loosen Up a Bit
If you’re struggling to control your distance at the course, tension might be one of the reasons. It doesn’t matter what’s causing you to stress out, you just need to calm down and loosen your grip. When our body is too tense, the tempo we talked about in a previous section can’t take effect.
So, when you’re at the course prepping for a shot, take a deep breath. Have a loose grip but not loose enough that the club flies out of your hands! To give you an idea, if your maximum grip strength is 10, you need to hold the club with 4-5 to have a good tempo.
Practice Indoors with Launch Monitors
If you happen to live in a cold region, you may not get enough practice time in a year to get amazing control over your distance. What you can do is invest in good quality launch monitors for indoor practice. It’s even better if you can get a full golf simulator!
Simulators and launch monitors work like a charm for game improvement. Modern launch monitors come with a plethora of sensors that can measure anything from your swing speed to the club face angle at impact.
You can use the information to make necessary adjustments to swing and overall playing style.
As we’ve said in one of our sections, there’s no alternative to practicing hard and getting a feel for each of your clubs to gain control over your distance. You also need to spend a lot of time on the course walking around and study the slopes. Because the slopes will impact the final distance as well.
The bottom line is, there’s no shortcut to scoring zones in golf. You need to add the necessary skills into your personal inventory. When you give it enough time and dedication, you’ll gladly notice that all of the clubs are listening to you instead of trying to control you.