Some players who could lower their score by sharpening their short-game technique too often are scared of the wedges. Laying the blade of a pitching or sand wedge behind the ball conjures up thoughts of chili-dips, skulled shots and worse. In rushing to get the shot over, they rush the swing as well, virtually guaranteeing a poor shot.
If wedges scare you, here's a three-step process to
simplify your short game and start bringing down your
1. Keep Things Simple
You've probably seen pros on television opening their stance, laying the club wide open and making other changes in technique to hit finesse shots. But you should stop experimenting and go with the basics. Keep things as simple as possible by using your normal grip and a square clubface. Open your stance only slightly. After you start making consistently crisp contact you can experiment with stance, grip and clubface alignment to play different shots.
2. Hit Down for Up
Don't try to scoop the ball in the air by exaggerating hand action. The ball doesn't need help -- that's the reason the clubface is angled. To let the club do its job, you have to hit down on the ball.
Force yourself to hit down by imagining a small wedge of wood behind the ball. Aim to drive the wedge under the ball with the leading edge of the club, and you'll get the ball airborne while eliminating blades and skulls.
3. Slow and Smooth
A major cause of mishit wedge shots is excessive body movement, usually caused by swinging too quickly. If the body lifts during the downswing, the clubhead hits high on the ball, causing a bladed or skulled shot. If the body drops, the club hits behind the ball for a fat shot. A hurried downswing also may cause coming over the top and pulling the ball left.
Think of the wedge as a precision instrument used to hit the ball an exact distance and direction. The wedge should be handled lightly, with deftness and finesse, not heavy-handedly. Hold the grip lightly and take half-swings without thinking about mechanics. Concentrate solely on feeling the rhythm of the clubhead back and through. Envision a rollercoaster as it negotiates a large dip: Starting downhill slowly, it gradually picks up speed and accelerates through the bottom arc, gradually slowing as it climbs the next hill. Forget about the ball and try only to swing the clubhead with that same rhythm.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.