Big drives are impressive. Just as students in our golf lessons. But it’s the short game—chipping, pitching, and putting—that brings home the bacon. So if you want to take your game to the next level, perfect your short game. Doing so will not only impress you buddies, it’ll help you chop strokes off your golf handicap.
The key tools of a good short game are your wedges. A good wedge shot turns three strokes into two—as we’ve often said in our golf tips newsletter. Good wedge play can make a big difference when playing a round of golf—at least it has in dozens of professional tournaments of the Tour.
Here is a list of what many consider the top six wedge shots in the history of pro golf. They’re real examples of the impact great wedge shots can make.
• Bob Tway’s sand shot on the 18th hole in the 1986 PGA Championship
• Larry Mize’s chip on the 1lth hole in the finals of the1987 Masters
• Tom Watson’s sand wedge on 71st hole in the 1982 U.S. Open
• Lanny Wadkins pitching wedge during the 1983 Ryder Cup
• Birdie Kim’s sand shot at the 2005 U.S Women’s Open
• Tiger Woods chip on the 16th hole during the last round of the 2005 Masters
All of these wedge shots had a major impact on the tournaments. In fact, many were turning points. Tiger’s is considered the best wedge shot ever in pro golf. While GolfWeek rated Kim’s among the best clutch shots of the last 10 years.
Five Keys To Solid Wedges
These shots all have one thing in common. The players who made them executed the five keys to hitting solid wedges discussed below:
1. Set-up Correctly
Bend naturally from the hips when setting up. Keep the knees flexed slightly and the ball positioned back in your stance. Also, use a one-piece takeaway and a slightly open stance, which lets clear the front side in the downswing. Employing a three-quarter swing increases control.
2. Smooth and Simple
Use a smooth and simple swing when hitting a wedge. You don’t have to “power” the ball with this type of shot. On the contrary, you can hit solid wedges with a minimum of effort.
When you hit wedge shots, you should almost feel flat-footed. Wedges require so little effort you can hit a bucket of balls without tiring. Simply turn through the ball.
3. Open the clubface
Open the clubface during the takeaway to create a smooth accelerating release and clean crisp contact. Holding the clubface closed as you go back is fatal. It kills your rhythm and stops you from rotating the clubface naturally.
If you don’t allow the natural rotation of your forearms both back and through your swing, you can’t stay connected during the swing. You also can’t accelerate through impact.
4. Rotate naturally
Let the clubface rotate open naturally. The feeling you’re after is a gently rolling of your forearms. You’re doing it correctly if the top of your club points out in front of you when you complete your downswing—not toward the sky.
5. Knuckles Down
The back ball position is where the bottom of your natural wedge swing occurs. It let’s you to hit down on the ball as long as you maintain a descending swing path. To guarantee this, keep the left-hand knuckles pointing toward the ground. If they point up, you won’t make crisp contact.
Wedges are scoring clubs. It’s why we emphasize them in our golf instruction sessions. Use the five golf tips above to hit clean, crisp, accurate wedges. And take inspiration from the 6 examples above. They’re great examples of how to hit wedges under pressure.
If you’re serious about breaking 80—and trimming your golf handicap—master your wedges.