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Improve your wedge distance control with Dustin Johnson’s unique drill

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Most amateurs understand how important hitting solid wedge shots are for their score. Many of us fail to practice a major factor of effective wedge play, however, distance control.

I was watching Dustin Johnson on the Augusta National range before his Monday practice round with Gary Woodland. Johnson was hitting his driver, and when Dustin Johnson hits his driver on the range you watch. After he finished hitting about 10 drives, he went back to hitting wedges. For the next 45 minutes, he was using a wedge drill I had never seen before. It threw me off because he was not aiming at any particular flag or worrying about how close he could hit a shot to the hole, which is common when practicing wedge play.

Johnson started the drill by finding the yardage to the back of the first green. He hit his first wedge to that yardage. His next shot landed slightly past his first shot, his third longer than his second and so on until he was outside of his wedge yardage. He repeated this process for 45 minutes working on wedge shots from 4o-100 yards. Once he got to 100 yards, he went back to the 40-yard target and restarted the drill.

This drill can be easily repeated by amateurs, even though their cluster of balls will probably not be as tight as Johnson’s. In order to do this on your own, head to your local range and find the yardage to the shortest pin on the range. Once you have it, aim to the left or right of the green in order to have a clear view of the landing area. Try to land a wedge pin high. After you have hit a shot that yardage and established a good starting point, try to land your next shot slightly past of your target ball. Repeat this process until you are out of your wedge range.

While doing the drill, it’s important to keep in mind an estimate of your target yardage so you can start to develop a feel for a 65-yard shot, a 70-yard shot, etc. You may not have a launch monitor behind you on the range like Johnson and a lot of PGA Tour players do, but you can get the data you need with a laser rangefinder or by walking off distances (provided no other golfers are around). In the process, you’ll develop dozens of stock swings for a variety of distances.

Leave a comment if you have any feedback regarding the drill or variations you have found to be successful!

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Trey is a recent University of Michigan graduate where he studied Information Analysis. He is a Sports and Culture Writer who specializes in Golf. If you have any inquiries or questions you can reach him at (treypezzetti@gmail.com).

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Speedy

    Jun 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Too many “don’ters” here. Time to be a “doer”.

  2. Luis Pantin

    May 20, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Buy the Swin Caddie SC200…. this tool is perfect for distance control… and to play games by yourself on the range… and for less than $350 it’s a teacher for life…. this is your 15th club in your bag… you will not regret ever.

    I have it and use it as much as I can… it’s a par maker when you lay up …

    • larrybud

      Jun 7, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      unfortunately, they’re not that accurate since it can’t measure spin rate or launch angle (only ball speed), and the distances are all calculated from “stock” or average values

  3. Greg V

    May 19, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Nick Faldo did this with his 7-iron starting at 100 yards. Good drill.

  4. Sin Nombré

    May 18, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    I asked for a full wedge and the salesman came out with an iceberg salad. It was delicious, but alas, still chili dipping out on the links. Doritos and guacamole anyone?

  5. Mike C

    May 18, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    This drill is specifically designed for someone using Trackman during practice like DJ does so you know exactly how far the ball is flying. He addresses this in the article but his solution isn’t sufficient.

  6. Mike901550

    May 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Yep
    Until my range has 1. Balls with dimples 2. Balls not covered in mud. 3. Premium balls . It’s a waste of time

  7. Mul

    May 18, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Glad I came across this article, I usually just wing it under 100 yards!

  8. TMan

    May 18, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Interesting! Iam
    going to try this drill. thanks for the information.

  9. stacey

    May 18, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Great stuff. I will definitely try this out!

  10. Ty Webb

    May 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Yeah saw Tom Lehman do this about 25 years ago. Yawn.

  11. Gordon Crossman, PGA of Canada

    May 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I am a Class “A” Teaching Professional in Canada and I have a drill I call the “Wave”. You take your the most lofted club, take a few practice swings stretch out a bit hit a few balls to get the feeling to start your practice session then you take a full swing with the club without hitting hard and note the landing area then the next ball must land short of the previous shot then the next shot short of the previous one until you can bring it in as close to you as you can by swinging the club as a mini swing. Once you accomplish this you start hitting a little longer by landing the ball pass the previous ball then the next ball pass the previous until you reach the length for that club then repeat the process back and forth like a “Wave” coming in and then going out, this can be done with any club in particular wedges where you may have to loft a shot over a bunker with a tight pin placement, maybe a 15 yard shot. I feel it helps to develop feel plus you create a number of more shots in your bag and it is a fun practice drill to develop feel.

  12. Curtis Demorest

    May 18, 2018 at 11:53 am

    This is called the ladder drill…can also be used on the putting green. Have a mark at 5 feet then another at 20 feet and see how many balls you can get in the 15 foot area, with each putt going past the previous putt

  13. DB

    May 18, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Sadly, this WON’T work accurately for most amateurs who are hitting distance-limited or just plain crummy range balls.

    It’s good practice for partial wedge swings, but if you think that 65-yard wedge shot you perfected on the range is going to be exactly 65 yards on the course, you might be wrong.

  14. Mower

    May 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I’m on it! “Wedge Guerilla!”

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