To get it close from inside 100 yards, make sure your swing features these 10 elements
Whether it’s your third shot on a long par-5 or your approach on a short par-4, the full-swing wedge—be it with your gap, sand or pitching iron—is a critical play. All good players accept the short-range shot as a relatively easy opportunity to get up and down for birdies and pars, and do so with the regularity average golfers get up and down from just off the green. The reason: practice. Good players know that the full-swing wedge is a very common play and plan their practice skills accordingly. To better your full-wedge skills, keep the following 10 swing keys in mind during your next range session. You’ll soon be knocking it stiff like the best wedge players in the world.
1 Open It Up
While your driver swing and wedge swing should take the same amount of time to complete (tempo, tempo), don’t fail to understand that a wedge swing is slower and, therefore, doesn’t need a ton of lower-body action to power the club into impact. Watch any good wedge player and you’ll see him or her keep everything below the knees fairly quiet. That being said, you can’t execute a sound wedge swing without opening up your hips to your target on the downswing. So how do you open up if you’re meant to keep the lower body still? At address, gently pull the front foot back so they’re a bit open to the target. With the hips preset in this open position, all that’s left to do is power the club back and through with the arms and shoulders.
2 Hug The Ball
When hitting a full wedge, keep one thing in mind: You’re not hitting your driver or 4-iron. It’s a relatively slow swing that emphasizes control over power. Furthermore, it’s mostly an upper-body-dominated motion requiring little, if any, lower-body movement. Your setup should reflect these truths.
For starters, hug the ball at address. Your wedges are the shortest clubs in your bag, so naturally you should stand closer to the ball. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your right elbow close to your right side, which further emphasizes the need to hug the ball. Allow your arms to dangle from the shoulders and grip the club from there, with your hands just in front of your zipper. At the very least, let the lie of the wedge (the steepest of any club in the bag) dictate the placement of your hands, which naturally will be closer to your body.
3 Hinge At The Ball
If there’s one thing recreational players could do to better their wedge swings, it’d be to hit down and through, taking a nice big divot after the ball just like the pros on TV. Most amateurs tend to sweep, scoop or, worse yet, lift the ball into the air, forgetting the old golf adage “You’ve got to hit down to hit up.” Yes, your clubhead must descend into the ball, break the turf, then continue into the release and followthrough. While many factors go into correctly hitting down and through, one of the most important is wrist hinge. If you fail to hinge, you’ll sweep the floor. Here’s what I tell my students: hinge at the ball. By that I mean start your wrist bend as you take the club away with your left shoulder and arms working as a single unit. If you wait until the midpoint of your backswing, you may never hinge at all. Get it going immediately and you’ll have a better chance of compressing the ball as you should.