Nepali Times
Tee Break
The whole 90 yards


Once you start hitting the ball reasonably well, you begin to really enjoy the game. At any level though, golfers still dream of improving their game. For instance, if they shoot 80, their target will be to break that number the very next time they step on the golf course. The desire to keep playing better never ends.

From my experience, seasoned golfers often ruin their score by getting into trouble from shots inside 90 yards. In most cases, they are more likely to fail when they have to control their swing. All these golfers usually hit great with a full swing yet when it comes to a quarter, half or ? shot, the results are way below average. Inconsistent shot making from this range affects their scoring.

Ever looked back after a round of golf knowing you could done better if the shots within 90 yards had been well executed? I'm sure you've done that plenty of times. Apart from the very best players, golfers rarely practice shots of this range and are unaware of good technique. They lack confidence and suffer the consequences.

I bet that when you're on the practice range, you just hit those full shots. Well, grow smart and get into the habit of trying out controlled shots as well. Feel free to use the tips given below as a guide:

To sharpen your skills and get the feel from inside 90 yards, use a pitching or sand wedge, take a quarter back swing and see how far the ball pitches. Continue to practice this until you are comfortable and get reasonably consistent results. Then switch to a half swing. Notice the difference in distance. Repeat this drill as well before moving on to the three-quarter swing. During all this practice, the speed on your downswing must remain as identical as possible. As a guide, I hit my sand wedge to about 30, 55 and 75 yards on these three different swing lengths. However remember, I am a professional so don't expect the same distances yourself!

The key point is to get the feel of how much back swing to take for a given distance. It's very similar to how you practice putting. A five-footer might need just a four inch back swing but a 30-footer would need closer to a 10-inch back swing.

Vary the back swing during practice sessions until you are comfortable. Observe how far the ball flies with less than full swings. Though they are capable of producing good results, even top professionals don't like it when they are inside this range and have to hit less than full swings. They are confident and accurate with their distances but still use good course management on par 4s and 5s to try and leave themselves full shots to the green of at least a 100 yards.

Amateurs are not capable of hitting accurate distances off the tee or even from the fairway, often ending up in those awkward positions inside 90 yards. Practice makes perfect and can save you from these otherwise difficult positions. Once you gain confidence and feel comfortable inside 90 yards, your scores will improve dramatically.

Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Golf Director at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)