On the LPGA Tour, it's imperative that you hit your wedge shots as close to the hole as possible. To do that, you need to be able to control both your wedge trajectory and spin. Personally, I like to prevent my wedge shots from flying too high in the air, since that makes it harder for me to control my distances. Instead, by managing my trajectory, I actually can get more aggressive, knowing my shots will fly on a flatter trajectory with a consistent amount of spin from wedge shot to wedge shot.
How do I do this? Simple. Unlike a full-swing shot with a driver, where the body naturally shifts over my right leg, with shots from 120 yards and in, I actually try to keep my weight centered (maybe even a little to the left) through the entire stroke. Here's what that does:
First, staying centered (or, in my case, a little to the left), steepens my angle of attack, adding more spin through the shot. This is what I want, since staying a little left also helps me compress the ball with my hands slightly forward of the ball at impact. This knocks down my trajectory and prevents the ball from ballooning out of my control. In the black-and-white photo above, if I let my weight shift too much, I'll have to really time the release of my hands and weight shift, making sure everything is where I want it to be at impact. It's possible to do, but relying on timing in the heat of competition usually results in more mistakes than successes. Instead, by keeping my weight favoring my left side through the shot, I can concentrate more on swing length to determine distance and not so much on weight shift, hand speed and so on to hit my wedge shots successfully.
Make sense so far? I'll bet one of the reasons why many amateurs are so inconsistent with their wedge games is because they shift their weight too much during their wedge swings. Like I said, on a good day, where your timing is working, you can get away with that weight shift. But on days where your timing is a little off, any excessive weight shift with your wedges will lead to a whole lot of inconsistencies from short range.
Practice hitting shots with your wedges and keep your weight either centered, or like me, favoring your left side through the shot. You'll see some more speed come from the hands and hit shots a little lower, but the added consistency and spin will make up for it. Once you dial in and get comfortable hitting wedge shots like this, do what I do and adjust your swing length depending on your distances from the hole. You'll find this way of managing your wedge shots a lot easier than relying on the timing of your hands and body through the stroke.
Paige Mackenzie, LPGA, is in her seventh season on the LPGA Tour. Learn more about Paige at paigemackenziegolf.com.