During the course of a round, you may face plenty of shots into greens with pitching and sand wedges. But nothing is more frustrating than hitting a good drive, then missing the green with a short approach. Here are a few rules to help you hit wedges close.
Never Stretch the Sand Wedge
If you find you're in between a hard sand wedge and an easy pitching wedge, go with the pitching wedge. The extra loft and bounce on the sand wedge makes it less reliable on hard swings; the tendency is to overswing and mishit the ball. Take the pitching wedge, open your stance slightly, and make a three-quarter swing. There should be plenty of backspin, so the ball will stop.
Never, Ever Stretch the Lob Wedge
If you carry a third wedge, be very prudent about pulling it out. That much loft generally doesn't like full swings; a good rule of thumb is to never swing more than three-quarters with your lob wedge. Trying to muscle an extra yard or two generally will create more height and less distance.
How to Crush the Pitching Wedge
Sometimes you can stretch a few extra yards from your pitching wedge, when stuck between it and a 9-iron and there's trouble behind that the longer club might find. Take a square stance and play the ball in the middle of your stance, with your hands just slightly ahead of it. Rather than consciously swinging "hard," think about swinging "full." Make a complete backswing as if swinging a 5-iron, then let the momentum of your body unwinding drive the club through impact. You'll get the extra clubhead speed-and yards-you need.
Drill: Chart Your Yardages
Take the time on the practice range to chart exactly how far you hit each of your wedges and what swing length each requires for maximum distance. Experiment with three-quarter swings with the sand and lob wedges and keep increasing your effort until reaching maximum distance. Write down the results. With the pitching wedge, record how far the ball goes with a three-quarter swing, a regular swing, and a full swing. Compare those yardages to your sand and lob wedge so you'll have an entire arsenal of wedge approach shots.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.