How Can I Improve My Distance Control In Golf? (3 Keys)


Golf can be a complicated game.

First, you have to worry about your tee shot.  Every golfer wants to maximize the combination of distance and accuracy.  

When a golfer is fortunate enough to have a good look at the green and have a distance left into the green somewhere between 50-200 yards, distance control and club selection becomes a major key to success.

A shot that is 150 yards to the pin and it flies either 140 or 160, can leave the golfer in bad shape depending on the location of the green.

There is nothing worse than a well struck shot that comes up short and flies too far, resulting in a bogey or worse.

How Can I Improve My Distance Control in Golf?

There are three keys to controlling your distance in golf.  The first is solid contact on a high percentage of the shots.  The second key is knowing your distance that you should be trying to hit the ball.  The third key, and maybe most important, is understanding truly how far you carry each club in your bag.

Typical Struggles with Distance Control

Golfers will find themselves struggling with distance control if they only hit 50% of their shots solid.  It is hard to predict and understand the distance that you hit each club.  They struggle with low point control

A second variable is that golfers fail to take into consideration the actual distance, the wind, and the change in elevation which will impact the distance you should be trying to hit the ball.

Finally, golfers typically have no idea how far they actually hit the ball.  They will often calculate poorly based on their best shots and then let their ego get in the way.  They might think they hit their 8 iron 155 yards, when in reality it takes a 7 iron to hit the ball 155 yards.

Improve Your Distance Control: 3 Keys

  • Solid contact with irons
  • Understanding the distance needed
  • Understanding how far you hit each iron
The wind plays a major factor in distance control. See key #2 below!

Key #1: Solid Contact with Irons

I have played a lot of golf with golfers who struggle.  The most important basic in all of golf is being able to strike the ball solid a high percentage of the time.  One time a golfer thins the ball and the next time they hit it fat.  One time they slice the ball, the next time they hook.  I have two great drills to help you control the low point of your swing leading to better contact and to help you hit the ball on the right start line.

The Drill: The Low Point Control Dril

  • Take some yard paint and patina a 1-2 yard long line.
  • Setup with 55% of your weight on your front side.
  • Try to hit the target side of the line and see how many times out of 10 you can do this successfully!
  • Repeat this drill every day for a month, tracking your progress and your ability to to this successfully in trials of ten.
  • You may need to start with half swing and progress to full swings.

If you are struggling, put more weight forward and work on keep your head still to help control the low point in the swing.

The Drill: Stock Shot Drill

  • At the driving range, set up an alignment stick about 6-8 yards in front of you, straight down your target line.
  • If you have a second alignment stick, set the stick 3-4 feet right of the first stick (for a draw) or left of the first stick (for a fade).
  • Complete your initial assessment see how many times out of 10 you can start the ball to the right or left of your target.  Pick one side and measure your game at this point.
  • The goal is to eventually get 7 out of 10 shots to start to the correct side and draw back towards the target.
Here is the drill being explained by Kyle Morris:

The combination of solid contact (low point control drill) and the ability to hit a stock shot (consistent curve) is the first step in improve distance control in golf!

Key #2: Understanding the Distance Needed

There are several variables into the club selection process.  The golfer should consider the following information:

  • Distance to the front of the green
  • Distance to the middle of the green
  • Distance to the back of the green
  • Pin Location
  • Uphill or downhill?
  • What direction is the wind blowing and what impact might it have
  • The lie of the ball

Overall, many high handicap golfers would benefit from trying to hit the ball to the back of the green due to a lack of poorly struck shots as well golfers overestimating how far they actually hit some of their clubs.

There are two great options to help you know the yardage you have left.

I would highly recommend a GPS Golf Watch.  I use a Garmin golf watch.

I also carry a golf rangefinder to have the exact yardage to the green.

Below are the two items that I would highly recommend.  Check current pricing on Amazing to see if it fits your budget.

If you want to read more about each technology golf tool.  Check out the resources linked below:

How to use a golf rangefinder – Lower your scores today!

Are Golf Rangefinders worth it?

Key #3: Understanding How Far You Hit Each Iron

I would highly recommend each golfer create a distance chart like the sample below:

ClubCarry Distance (100%)90%80%
2 Utility Iron210
4 iron190
5 iron181
6 iron171
7 iron163
8 iron153
9 iron143
P Club130123115
Pitching Wedge118110102
SW Club1059791
LW Club908274

This might be the most important information you can use to help you play quality golf.  I have heard so many stories and have seen it first hand where golfers completely over estimate how far they hit each iron.

They hit one 7 iron 165 yards one time and think this is their carry distance.  So they step up to a 165 yard shot, hit the 7 iron and end up in a bunker.  They blade it out of the bunker and are looking at a double bogey as their reality.  Instead, if they had the right club and hit the 6 iron, their chance of hitting the middle of the green would increase greatly!

How can you create your own chart?

Option 1: I would highly recommend a launch monitor!

These portable devices can be used at the driving range, golf course or set up in your home net or golf simulator.  These devices are game changers not only on being able to map your bag and know your distances, but they also provide quality feedback after on every shot and provide the following information:

  • Carry Distance
  • Spin Rate
  • Launch Angle
  • Spin Axis
  • Total Distance
  • Ball Speed

This information will help you map your bag, decide on which clubs are best for your game, develop a stock shot and much more.  I love using my SkyTrak 365 days a year in my golf simulator setup.

The process for mapping your bag can looking something like this:

  • Hit 5 shots with each club in your bag.
  • Log the carry distance and total distance for each shot.
  • Eliminate any outlier numbers (poor hits or low spin rates).
  • Take the average and create a map of your bag.

If you visit any PGA Tour event you will see plenty of golfers utilizing their launch monitors.  While most can’t afford a Trackman, there are some very affordable options in the 500-2000 dollar range.  I own the SkyTrak and think the world of it.  

Here are the top 3 options to check out:

Option 2: Use a Driving Range or Open Field

If you can’t afford a launch monitor at this time, here is another option.

  • Find an open driving range or open field
  • Take 10 balls of the type of golf ball you play
  • Pick a target and either walk it off or use a rangefinder.
  • Hit 10 shots with each club in your bag and take an average.
  • Your rangefinder can help you get a specific distance.

Go ahead and create a chart of each club and their carry distance like the one above.

Final Thoughts: Improving Your Distance Control

If you can improve your ball striking, have great information on how far you have to hit a shot and then have an accurate distance chart, you will be on your way to more enjoyable golf and lower golf scores!

Take the time to practice and get better, get the right technology tools and understand your distances.  Commit to the process and watch your game improve!  

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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