Golf Pitching Tips: Distance Control is King

By Todd Kolb
April 23, 2019

Improving Wedge Play with Distance Control

For every golf shot, the ultimate goal is to get as close to the target as possible. However, it is the wedge shot where many golfers are especially conscious of this challenge. This is the moment in your game when you’re no longer trying to move the ball as far as possible. When it comes to the golf pitching tips, there is such thing as “too far.” Power counts for a little, but really, precision is everything.

Of course, you probably already know all this. You are well-aware that distance control is key to a good wedge shot.  It is the ultimate in golf pitching tips.

The real question is: How do you practice distance control so you can start to see real improvement in your golf game?

Many amateur golfers practice wedge shots by simply taking hits with their wedges. They station themselves on the driving range, making hit after hit after hit. This repetitive practice increases their competency with the club. However, without a target distance in mind and without variety, this technique does little to develop adaptability. Given how widely wedge shots vary in yardage, you can’t conquer this shot until you can adjust for any distance.

I’m going to share my own very simple trick for practicing distance control in wedge shots. Now, this is the method I use and the one I teach to my students at the Sanford POWER Golf Academy. This technique enables you to challenge yourself, track your progress, and notice both strengths and weaknesses.

The only thing you need is a portable, affordable launch monitor.

The Best Tool on the Market

At the Sanford POWER Golf Academy, we use a stationary launch monitor with state-of-the-art technology. Our launch monitor is the industry standard… and it comes with a hefty price tag. For more than $15,000, we have a reliable device that gives our students all their stats, from swing speed to smash factor. With this information, I am able to help my students test their abilities, evaluate their skills, and improve their game.

But what if you’re not a PGA teaching professional? What if you’re a weekend golfer who wants to start playing better but can’t justify the $15,000-$25,000 price tag?

In that case, I would recommend investing in the much more affordable Swing Caddie 2, or SC200. This unit is about the size of your smart phone, is easy to travel with, and is stunningly accurate. In fact, we’ve tested the SC200 against our own, much pricier launch monitor. The readings are nearly identical.

Using the SC200 is easy. It is battery operated and comes with a remote control. All you need to do is turn it on and set it on the ground behind your club. Once you choose your club and loft angle on the device, take your swing. The SC200 will record your carry distance, swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor. In fact, the unit even stores this information so you can note your averages and see patterns.

Ways to Practice Distance Control

The SC200 also features three different modes. Practice Mode simply records your stats. Target Mode allows you to set a target distance for yourself. Under this setting, the unit records your stats and gives you a score depending on how close you were to reaching your target distance.

To practice distance control for your wedge shots, you will want to use the third mode –Approach Mode. This setting selects target distances for you at random. These distances will fall anywhere in the range of 40-100 yards. As with Target Mode, Approach Mode provides a score for how close you came to achieving your goal. The only difference is that you don’t choose the target distance… and the target changes for each shot.

This is how you get better at adjusting and controlling your distance for those all-important wedge shots.

I’ll walk you through my process for using the SC200 to practice distance control.

Training with the SC200

The first thing I did was change the mode on my SC200 to Approach Mode. I also switched the club setting to sand wedge so I could be sure to get the most accurate reading. Because the device comes with a remote control, I could do all of this from where I stood. I did not have to crouch down to the ground where my SC200 was set up.

For my first shot, the Swing Caddie gave me a target distance of 70 yards. I made my shot and the SC200 immediately reported my distance. One thing I love about the SC200 is the optional Voice Distance Output. I can hear my distance right away without even having to look at the screen.

Convenience aside, I wasn’t crazy about the reading on this first shot. My ball traveled 99 yards. So I definitely overshot the 70-yard target. I choose to see that as a hint that I should be teaching less and playing more golf.

I hit a button on the remote to let the SC200 know I was ready for the next shot. This time, it gave me a target distance of 56 yards. The shot went much better. I hit the golf ball 59 yards, only three yards off my target distance.

The launch monitor set my third goal to 75 yards. That was another solid shot for me. I hit the ball 78 yards, only three yards beyond my target once again. Now, this particular shot was an easy one for me. 75 yards was my go-to distance back when I competed. Every golfer has some distance at which they feel the most comfortable. When you use a tool like the SC200, you start to realize what distances are easy for you to hit with precision. You also learn where your precision starts to falter.


Now, let’s look at how the Swing Caddie scored my practice.

1st Shot

Target Distance:  70 yards

Carry Distance:  99 yards

Score:  4

2nd Shot

Target Distance:  56 yards

Carry Distance:  59 yards

Score:  10

3rd Shot

Target Distance:  75 yards

Carry Distance:  78 yards

Score:  10


The scoring system is great because it challenges you to better yourself. In addition, Approach Mode also shows you your current total score before each swing. For example, if I were to take a fourth shot, the SC200 screen would remind me that I currently have 24 points. That’s 24 points out of a possible 30. This both motivates me and helps me see the bigger picture of how I’m doing on average.

Approach Mode leads you through ten shots with randomly selected target distances. After the tenth, it shows you how many points you scored out of a possible 100. For you overachievers, it is possible to get a bonus point for matching the target exactly. So, if you were always the kid who had to get extra credit, good news! It is entirely possible to score 11 out of 10 on a shot.

What’s great about using Approach Mode on the SC200 is that it turns potentially tedious practice into a game. And because you’re focused on improving your distance control, you become more aware of your body on each swing. You actively notice what 55 yards feels like. 70 yards. 90 yards. The more aware you are of how it feels to shoot a certain distance, the likelier you are to recreate that feeling (and distance) when you need to.

With the SC200, improving your game becomes a challenge, not a chore. As you start to see those Approach Mode scores go up, you’ll notice those golf scorecard numbers going down.

The Short Version

To sum up: the key to a good wedge shot is great distance control.  In fact, most pitching tips revolve around this one simple concept.

In order to improve your distance control, you need to practice shooting for a random variety of target distances. Now, you won’t always be shooting a wedge shot at the same distance on the golf course. So in order to be flexible, you need to practice as many different distances as you can.

The SC200 is a reliable, affordable launch monitor that can help you test your distance control. Additionally, the device’s Approach Mode will select random target distances for you and score you on your ability to reach them.

The more you practice with a variety of target distances, the sooner you will understand how to adjust for any shot. Before long, you will find that getting the golf ball close to the hole is not the great mystery it used to be.

All it takes is a little time and the right tools.

What Do You Think?

What has helped you to improve your distance control? And what challenges are you running into? Are there questions about golf pitching tips that we can answer for you? Drop us a line in the comments section and join the conversation!

Don’t forget to check out our other videos and articles about the SC200. The Swing Caddie 2 is an outstanding tool that does far more than just help you master distance control. If you are interested in this tool, take the time to learn how it can help you improve everything from smash factor to carry distance. And if you already have the SC200, let us know how you’ve been using it.

And be sure to follow us Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more little-known tips and tricks to transform your game. Our primary goal is always to help you play better golf.  And for helpful video tips, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Also visit us at for more tricks and insight on all aspects of the game.

We always love hearing from you and learning how we can help you play better golf.


  1. I tend to chunk the ball when trying to bump and run. What is a drill that can help me to learn my way out of that problem?

  2. Mike,
    Thanks for asking….here is a great video to start

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