Today I’m excited to share some great golf practice drills to work on distance control for your pitch shots. Having distance control is the best skill you could develop but it takes lots of practice to gain feel.
The following pitching golf drills will make practice fun. These are golf practice drills even the pro golfers use to work on pitch shot distance control, so if they are good enough for the pros, then they will most definitely be good enough for you and I.
You’ll start off with a basic pitch shot alignment practice drill to make sure you hit your pitch shots on target. Once you can master hitting straight shots at your intended target, the rest of your short game practice time can be focused on mastering pitching distance control and feel.
- Alignment stick technique drill
- Hit 5 balls to a pin from 40,50,60 and 70 yards
- Play 9 short par 3 holes out on the golf course
- Distance control cone drill
- Leapfrog drill
- Check up and roll
- Flop shot
7 Best Golf Pitching Drills to Practice
1. Alignment stick technique drill
Good technique is very important in order to hit consistent well struck pitch shots. A common mistake that a lot of players make when hitting a pitch shot is to have an overactive lower body.
If you were to observe some of the best players in the world when they hit pitch shots you will notice that they use a good shoulder turn to move the club back and through impact.
An easy way to practice this feeling of a quiet lower body is to loop an alignment stick through the 3 front belt loops on your shorts or pants.
The goal is the avoid hitting the alignment stick at any point during the shot.
This golf practice drill will give you the feeling that your shoulders are doing most of the work, and that the club is out in front of your body at all times.
2. Pitch 5 balls to a pin from 30, 40,50,60 and 70 yards
Distance control is one of the most important pitching factors. Since a pitch shot isn’t a standard full swing shot it requires feel and practice to be able to hit every shot exactly how far you want to hit it.
One of the best ways to practice pitching for both distance control and to simulate the reality of hitting a pitch shot out on the course is to do the following drill…
If there is enough space at the chipping green practice area, drop 5 golf balls at 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 yards away from a hole, hit every shot with a full pre shot routine and imagine that you are out playing on the course.
By doing this drill your feel for distance control will improve, and you will also improve at visualizing pitch shots.
Mix up the distances every time you practice, sometimes drop the balls down in increments of 10 starting at either 30, 35 or 45.
Feel free to measure the proximity to the hole for your pitch shots and find the average so you can gather data on your pitching stats to see how close you can get these short game shots to the hole.
3. Play 9 short par 3 holes out on the golf course
This is a super fun golf game to play by yourself or with playing partners. Adding in extra pitch shots during your round of 9 holes can get you extra practice at controlling your pitch shots from various distances in real situations on the golf course.
For this golf pitching drill, you are going to drop a second ball when you get between 30-80 yards away from the green and play it as a par 3 in addition to still playing your normal ball.
Keep track of your score and compete against yourself each week or if you have playing partners to compete against.
Once you consistently can hit these pitch shots onto the green and 2 putt for an easy par 3, switch the golf drill up by making it par 2.
It will simulate situations you may face where you have to get up and down from 30-80 yards using pitching distance control skills to stick the ball close to the hole for one putt par saves or birdies.
4. Golf Pitching Distance Control Cone Drill
Majority of the time it is difficult to practice your pitching out on the golf course. Don’t let that stop you from working on your short game though.
The cone distance control drill is perfect for golfers that only have access to the driving range as means for practicing their pitch shots. Or if your golf course has lots of dead space you can freely use to pace of distances for pitch shots if the driving range isn’t safe for walking out onto.
Cones are great targets to hit at, but if you don’t have cones use anything to make a small target, even a headcover will do.
Place the cones/targets in line starting at roughly 30 yards away from you, continue in increments of 10 yards up to about 70 or 80 yards.
If you have 4 different distance markers hit one ball at each starting at the shortest one, once you get to the longest one work your way back down to the shortest one again.
It is important to alternate distances for every shot, this will help with creating a feel for each different distance.
5. Leapfrog Drill
At this point anyone reading this article will realize that distance control is a key component of pitching.
The leapfrog drill is a great golf practice pitching drill to do when warming up for your round. Instead of just hitting golf balls aimlessly this will help to give you good feel when going to the first tee.
Hit a ball about 30 feet out onto the range, with the next shot try to land that ball on top of where the previous shot came to a stop.
Continue this process until you have worked yourself all the way up to a full shot. You never know when you will have to hit a pitch shot out on the course, make sure to be ready for that moment when it arises.
Overall, that concludes are 5 golf pitching drills to improve your distance control. I hope these were new golf practice drills you haven’t heard of before so you can mix them into your practice routine with other drills.
If you want more tips and golf drills, check out the various practice plans below.
Thanks for reading our blog post today on the 5 pitching drills to help your golf short game skills.
6. Learning the Check Up & Roll
This golf pitching drill involves observing how each of your short game clubs check up when they land. Grab 3-4 different clubs to test out with pitch shots. Here are example club selections:
- Sand Wedge
- Gap Wedge
- Pitching Wedge
- 52-60 Degree Wedge
When I work on pitching drills, I typically just use my 54 degree wedge and 60 degree wedge. The further away from the green I am, the more likely it is that I’ll use the 60 degree wedge because I need the ball to come in softer and not roll much when it lands.
Start about 5 strides away from the green and drop 10 balls on the ground. Hit all 10 pitch shots with the same club, watching how each one lands, checks up, and rolls out on the green.
Repeat this with each of your other wedges. Once you have this information in mind, you’ll know which clubs are best for different pin placements on the green.
For example, when there isn’t much room to land the ball and stop it quickly, you’ll likely need a lofted wedge that can hit the flop shot. For greens where the hole is on the opposite side, leaving lots of landing room for the ball to land and roll, you could go with a lower lofted wedge that’s gonna roll out more after landing.
Pitching Drill Practice Routine
Complete 100 pitching repetitions each day at the practice green for a week. Complete sets of 10 with different clubs, switching back and forth to give each one a break. In my case, I would rotate back and forth between my two wedges I use, until I’ve hit 5 sets of 10 with each to total my 100 reps.
7. The Flop Shot
In the previous golf pitching drill you got to test out different wedges in your bag and learn how they check up and roll.
As you move further away from the green, more and more of your clubs will no longer work to use. No matter how perfectly you land the ball, these wedges will still roll out too far and end up off the green on the other side.
When you get this far away from the green that pitch shots become burners, skidding across greens, you need to make adjustments to the club face. You need to open the face more to increase the loft and hit higher projectile golf shots that come down soft, with little roll.
As you open up the face, making it more flat with the ground, you also need to adjust your stance and swing path to compensate for the face being open. Then swing down and get the club face underneath the ball, popping it up with a high rate of backspin.
Here is a great video on how to hit a flop shot if you’re unfamiliar:
Pitching Drill Practice Routine:
Complete 100 flop shots per practice, with focus on solid contact and distance control. Keep a similar tempo with each shot, just focus on changing the back swing length to add or reduce power based on distance the ball needs to travel in the air.
What is a Pitch Shot in Golf?
Pitch shots are usually longer versions of a chip shot. Most of their journey is through the air rather than on the green.
For example, if you find yourself 30 yards away from the green, a pitch shot is need as the ball travels 30 yards through the air and then rolls maybe another 3-5 yards upon landing.
A chip shot, on the other hand, is when you’re closer to the green and the ball only travels in the air a little while before rolling out most of the way to the hole.
A good rule of thumb to use is to categorize pitch shots as wedge shots that are between 30 and 70 yards from the hole. Thus pitch shots are longer than chip shots, but shorter than a full wedge shot.
Why You Should Spend More Time on Golf Pitching Practice Drills
Most beginner’s overlook the pitch shot and don’t spend enough time working on different pitching drills during practice. Instead, they spend more time on the driving range working on their long game.
Yes, hitting the golf ball well off the tee and with your longer irons is important, but you already know that most of your scoring comes from your short game ability.
A high percentage of your golf shots will be from within 100 yards and mastering these shorter distance shots can quickly help you lower your handicap to breaking 90, breaking 80, or even scratch golf.
Anytime you miss a green in regulation, being able to rely on your pitching and chipping is such a stress relief.
You’ll be confident you can still save par even if you hit a bad shot with your irons, which helps you hit your irons even better because there is less pressure.
Golf Pitching Technique & Tips for Distance Control
Now that we have explained why pitching is an important golf skill to develop let’s jump into some tips on how to properly perform the pitch shot technique.
Golf Pitching Technique Explained
On pitch shots, you’re going to start first with the set up, which includes a golf stance that is slightly open to your target at address.
This promotes an outside to inside swing path which helps you generate more spin on your pitch shots to get the ball to stop quicker on the green.
You ever watch the PGA players throw a pitch shot onto the green, hop once, and stop quickly? How sweet of a golf shot would that be to have in your skill set?
In addition to the open stance, you also want your feet about shoulder width apart from each other. You can also keep them narrower than that as the golf shot gets shorter and shorter.
On longer shots the wide stance helps you generate power and distance.
But with pitch shots, it’s a shorter distance to the green, so less power is needed. We are using more arms to control power and need less hips/legs movement in the swing similar to a chip shot where the lower body stays quiet.
Place 55% of your body weight on your front side, which is the left side for right handed players and the vice versa for left handers.
To hit a proper pitch shot, your swing should be smooth. In order to get this smooth motion, the secret is using your shoulders to lead the club back as well as through on the forward swing motion.
Learning how to use your shoulders will promote more consistency in your pitching technique.
Pitch Shot Distance Control Tips
Distance control can be more difficult with pitch shots since you aren’t making a full swing. A lot of pitch shots use half swings and three quarter swings to adjust power with your wedges to suit awkward distances inside 100 yards.
But the more you practice pitching the better your distance control and feel will be. It takes time to develop “feel” with pitching but it can be done!
The best tips are to practice more on the driving range to shorter targets as well as on course practice, dropping extra golf balls while playing a practice round.
The Clock System – Pitching Distance Control
The clock system is a great way to learn how to hit pitch shots that travel different distances. Your backswing length will determine how far the golf ball travels so learning the different lengths and how far each goes can help you gain feel for distance control.
Therefore, thing of your backswing like a clock arm.
Having a 9,10 and 11 o’clock pitch shot will allow you to hit 3 different pitch shots that all travel a different distances respectively.
A full wedge shot, for example, might travel 85 yards with your hands getting back to the 1 o’clock position. Having an 11 o’clock pitching position could send the ball 70 yards, a 10 o’clock pitch 50 yards and a 9 o’clock pitch 40 yards.
Having 3 different pitch shot distances will cover most distances between a chip shot and a full wedge shot.
This is the hard part of golf to master. These awkward wedge distances inside 100 yards that fill the gap between chipping and your full wedge swing.
After mastering the different clock positions with one wedge, work on changing trajectory with that wedge hitting lower shots and learn those distances. This will help you on windy days. Then adjust again and hit higher trajectory shots and relearn those distances.
Now you’ll have 9 different distances dialed in 3 for each clock position (9, 10, 11) for each of the 3 trajectories (high, normal, low).
After that, you can start learning a new wedge until you get good with two different wedges. Feeling motivated yet to master your pitch shot and save more pars/birdies?
Golf Practice System for Lower Scores
Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.
Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.
Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.
Nick Foy, Instructor