Drop 5 Strokes
Add to your arsenal of short-game shots and hit to tap-in range every time
Instead of taking advantage of clear scoring opportunities from less than full-wedge distances, most recreational golfers unnecessarily struggle, often needing additional strokes to get the ball into the hole following a poor approach. Not only does this situation work to balloon your scores, it robs you of the momentum you might have gained had you made par or birdie. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Over the next several pages, you’ll find an easy-to-follow guide to hitting crisp and accurate approaches from short distances with varying wedges. If you can learn these techniques and put them into play when the situations present themselves on the course, you’ll be in position to shave a good three to five strokes off your score and keep positive momentum active throughout your round.
The key to mastering short approaches is to learn how to hit the ball different distances with different clubs. Shots hit with a shorter or longer backswing and with more or less clubhead loft will exhibit trajectory characteristics that are better suited for some situations than others. For example, the 65-yard shot with a full lob wedge may not be the best play into a wind or if there’s plenty of green with which to work. Instead, the 65-yard play with half-pitching wedge will give you more control and likely a greater chance at getting close to the hole.
With your stance narrowed to a quarter of its normal width and your hands placed 1.5 inches from the top of the grip, swing the club back to a point where your left arm crosses your right pants pocket. Allow your wrists to naturally hinge. From here, swing the club to impact with an accelerating move.
Address a half-wedge shot by cutting your stance in half and by gripping down on the club a full inch. Swing the club back until your left arm is parallel to the ground. Don’t forget to coil onto your rear leg on the backswing, and to allow your body to uncoil as you bring the club back to the ball and into the finish.
With a slightly narrowed stance and your hands placed a half-inch from the top of the grip, make a three-quarters backswing. From the top, execute a normal turn back toward the golf ball, making sure to line up everything at impact. Your swing should finish at three-quarters without the need to consciously halt its motion.
A solid wedge full swing exhibits the elements of any full swing, including a full turn of the shoulders against the lower body, a shift in weight rearward on the backswing and toward the front leg on the downswing, and a natural release of the clubhead. Keep your hands ahead of the face to keep shots from ballooning.