Variety is the Spice...
I received an email from a reader who was asking about my recommendations for shot selection around the greens. Ben has been working on his chipping and pitching with his 60*lob wedge and has gotten quite confident in it, he says. So, his question is “Is this wrong? Should I be learning shots with different clubs around the greens?”

Well, Ben, I would be hard-pressed to tell you that something that is working for you is . . . wrong. How could it be? There are a lot of ways to hit good shots, but a key ingredient of any shot process is confidence. And if you have that, then you are much more likely to hit the shot you have envisioned. If that one-hop-and-stop shot with your 60 is the one that you just know will get you closer to the hole, then by all means, go with it.

That all said, what would be wrong with having a variety of shots in which you have that same confidence? If your technique is that good with the 60, my suggestion is to explore what happens if you use the same technique with the 56, or your gap wedge, or even your pitching wedge. Your confidence is in your technique and the 60 just the tool. When you are out playing a practice-type round, hit those shots with various other wedges, just to see what happens. The fun of this game is learning, in my opinion, and you can always have an “ah-ha” moment on these practice rounds.

Let me also offer this observation. It sounds like you get lots of spin on that little shot with your 60, and there are times when you don’t want as much spin, so that the ball will release. In those cases, take the lower lofted wedge and swing a little longer and slower, more like a pendulum. That will deaden the impact a bit, and impart less spin, so that the ball can roll out more reliably. This is a very savvy shot selection when you are trying to chip the ball up a slope severe enough that a “spinner” could check and roll back at you.

Another refinement in the chip shot, where you want the ball to release and roll out, is to think of turning the toe over a bit as you make contact, where the face is actually closing through the impact zone. This imparts a little “hook spin” to the ball and helps it release and roll on a reliable path.

So, having a “go to” shot around the greens is certainly an advantage, and it sounds like Ben has his “one-hop-and-stop” with that 60 to qualify there. It gives him that confidence when he really needs to get up and down. My only suggestion here is to increase the repertoire so that he has several “go to” shots around the greens to make him even more confident, inspire creativity when he faces a situation where that shot with the 60 might not feel just right.

Keep those questions coming, readers. I need to know what you want me to sound off about, so that this is always fun for all of us.
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[ comments ]
homermania says:
Agreed! It's probably best to have a multitude of shots available to you. Personally, I like to use one club (for me, my PW) and vary the shot style depending on the situation. Like Terry said, though, no reason to fix what's not broken.
jrbizzle says:
I've done more or less the opposite of this, until this year I almost never elevated the ball around the greens. I spent 2 years just really working on a bump and run chip with everything from my 7 iron down to my gap wedge. That shot may not always allow me a chance to settle close to the pin, but gets me on the green safely. This past year I started working on throwing the ball higher with my gap, sand and lob wedges. I don't have 100% confidence yet, but I'm getting there - I rarely mishit the shot (chunk or blade) anymore, and I'm starting to get better at judging distance.

I also began working on the "chunk and run" with my PW, basically when you have a deep lie, intentionally burying the club into the ground and letting the ball pop out a little hot.

If anyone is reading this article and taking Terry's advice - my only addition would be you probably can't groove multiple short shots in one year, unless you practice a lot. Pick one, and really get good at it before moving to the next.
GolfSmith7 says:
I prefer to use my 60 degree for all my shots around the green. I just have more confidence in it!
Banker85 says:
For me i like the one or two techniques and just use different clubs. keeps it simple.
Kurt the Knife says:
I use the "rule of twelve" for club selection for running shots and Phil's hinge-hold/flop methods for tight pins n stuff.
I've been getting pretty good results.
dottomm says:
I had a really hard time w my 56* wedge until I got my 60* wedge. Then I really started to understand how to use each club. Before I had either wedges, my shortest club was my PW. I HAD to learn how to be creative. Now I feel I have a lot of choices when I'm around the green and find myself going back to my PW or even 7i for shots around the green when I can't put or I am not confident with either wedge. It's nice to have choices.
mantajim says:
Sometimes on those practice rounds in the late evening when no one is around, I'll stop at different distances (50-100yds)and try to hit the green with every iron in my bag. Wow, that will open your eyes to what you can do with your clubs. I still use my 58* for a majority of shots around the green, but have developed pretty good feel for getting the ball close with a lot of other clubs.
legitimatebeef says:
Frankly "reader Ben" if you have to even ask such a question I'm guessing that maybe you aren't doing all that well around the greens. If one was really feelin it, chipping em close and saving pars all the time, why would he think to himself "Am I doing it right?" And Wedgeguy with all due respect I think this suggestion of "turning the toe over" and putting a hook on chip shots is crazy talk. Sure it may work in theory but I think this is more of eccentricity than a technique to be recommended to some complete stranger whose game and ability you have no idea about. You guys need to keep it real.
Kurt the Knife says:
The beef abides
jem_porter says:
If the greens you are playing on are anything like the ones I face at weekends, wih all kinds of crazy slopes running through them, you'd be better off picking a nice regular flattish spot you want to land the ball and let it run up to the hole. Working backwards from there, you pick the club that gives you the right amount of roll to get the job done. It can mean anything from a 7-iron to a 60 degree wedge depending on the lay of the land and you preference for more or less roll.
TheBrownCrayon says:
A lot of professional golfers try and put draw-spin on shots around the green. I've never heard of someone trying to close the toe, but to hear of someone trying to come from the inside to the outside, on bump and runs, or up hills isn't ridiculous.
DougE says:
If you are going to carry 3 or 4 wedges, then you should take full advantage of them. Personally, I practice around the green with all of them, regularly. Though my primary chipping club is a 52 Vokey, in which I have tremendous confidence, there are a thousand situations where by PW, 56 or 60 gives me sometimes better options. When I work around the practice green, I usually create all sorts of lie situations, then use a variety of wedges to accomplish the shot, noting the differences I get from each. For me, chipping and short pitching practice is a regular part of my weekly routine. I usually spend an hour or so, 3-4 times a week working on it. I probably should spend more time putting, but it isn't as much fun. I really love practicing with my wedges. It's so satisfying for me.
mjaber says:
Depends on the round I'm having. If I'm shooting out of my mind on pace for a "best" round, I'm going with what I know will work and what I have confidence in. If the round has gone to crap, or is just an average day at the course, I'll experiment around the greens and try some things that I realize might not work, but if it does, I'll be able to store that info for later, and do some work to try and perfect it.

At the range, I'll play with all kinds of weird shots. I remember a day last year when I stumbled blindly across the flop shot while experimenting with how much I could open the face of my lob wedge and still get the ball to go forward.
stedar says:
The rule of 12 works for me. Also found it great to get out of trouble when in a difficult lie (usually under branches where there in only a 1/4 swing possible). Selecting a 3 or 4 iron to run up the fairway 100m is a lot easier after practicing mid iron bump and runs around the green - you get a good feel for it. Saves a lot of shots in a round, from high 80's to low and sometimes in the 70's. It doesn't matter how you get there, only that you do :-)
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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