Hitting Half Wedges
I’ve gotten lots of questions on the subject of hitting wedge shots with less than full swings, so I randomly selected Anthony To of Irvine, CA as this week’s winner. He asks:

“I have problems with my 30 yard and in game. I have read many things about this and there are too many trains of thought on how to approach such a shot for me. Most of the time, it's a skull. What is the best way that I can get this shot on the green? It's killing me.”

Well, Anthony, you are obviously not alone in having trouble with wedge shots that require less than a full swing, and I’m going to do all I can here to offer some help. This is obviously a more in-depth topic than I can address here, but the biggest problems I observe in golfers when they have these short scoring shots are that they get too quick and hit at the ball with their hands. This makes the clubhead get ahead of the hands, arms and body, usually resulting in a skulled or chunked shot. Let’s see if we can’t fix that so that 2009 can be your best year ever around the greens.

The first fundamental of good wedge play is “quiet hands”. By that I mean that the arms swing back with a rotation of the body core, and the hands remain relatively inactive. All they do is hold the club lightly and stay in front of the body. Do this drill in slow motion to get the feel of what I’m talking about here, OK?

Take your wedge and set up into your address position for a short wedge shot. Then begin to take it away from address – not with your hands but only moves by rotating your body core backward. Simply rotate your sternum away from the target, and feel like your hands and arms are following your body core, and maintaining their “in front” relationship to your sternum. A very “fixed, one piece” movement is what you are seeking, though there will be some natural movement in the wrist, just not anything excessive.

Stop this backswing when your hands are about chest high and the left arm is about parallel with the ground. Your body core should be almost as fully turned as with a full swing.

Now, just rotate your body core back through the impact zone, keeping that “in front” relationship with your arms and hands as they return exactly through the same position they were in at address. You should feel like the back and through swing (in s-l-o-w -- m-o-t-i-o-n) was made only with the rotation of the body core.

I had you doing this in slow motion so that you could feel the body core defining the movement of the swing. But I also believe that the swing on these shots should be very slow as well. These shots are about precision, not power, so clubhead speed will be ample. If you hit them with a slower pace to your swing, you can be much more precise in getting things to happen as they should and quality impact will result.

When we talk about “quiet hands”, I mean that you do not want to feel like you are making the clubhead move with your hands, but rather it moves in synchronization with your body core and arms. It is an absolute fact of short game play that the last thing to the ball is the clubhead. It HAS to follow the grip end of the club, and therefore the hands, which are pulled by the arms which are pulled by the body core rotation.

For those of you still “enjoying” winter, you can practice this drill in your basement, garage or den if you have room to swing a half wedge. Learn it, and ingrain it, and then take it to the range to practice hitting balls. I’m confident your short game will get much better quicker.

Thanks, and congratulations, Anthony!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
iluv5pam says:
Thanks again wedge guy! I can't wait!
Trav says:
In other posts you have also recommended shortening up on the shaft - that is, standing more over the ball and the club being more vertical - for greater control over shorter shots. I have found this to be a very useful bit of advice.

And if it wasn't you, then feel free to take credit for it anyway.
wedgeguy says:
That wasn't me, Trav, as I'm a proponent of a flatter swing arc on short wedge shots. Watch the pros and you'll observe that most set up with their hands very low and the shaft angle flatter. In fact, many set their wedge lie angles 1-2 degrees flatter than their short irons to facilitate this position and swing plane. A shallower angle of approach on short shots actually allows the bounce to work better and imparts more spin when clubhead speed is slower.
Tim Horan says:
Can I just add a tip to Terry's drill after impact concentrate on maintaining the loft all through to the half finish point. That is to emphasise Terry's point about keeping the hands quiet. Don't roll the wrists as you would on a full shot. Wrist movement at these low speed swings will be uncoordinated and unreliable.
wonshort says:
What about the balanve of your weight Terry?

I think you need to try to keep your weight on your left side (hole side). Lots of folk tend to keep majority of weight on their right side almost thinking that this helps get the ball up whereas infact I think this leads to thins as you are up on the ball through impact. Weight on the left side helps you hit through the ball.
Kiwidave says:
I swear its called practice. I don't think I've ever 1 person other than people on +handicaps practicing these shot. You have to get confident in them. All the technical thoughts in the world won't help if you don't practice.
iluv5pam says:
i'm with dave on this one. i overthink it all the time.
iluv5pam says:
Just wanted to thank Wedgeguy for sending the SW so expediently. Received, it looks beautiful. Unfortunately, I hurt my shoulder, so I haven't had time to hit it yet, will report back with results once I do. Word.
Jippy says:
This is probably the best piece of advice I've read on golf in a while. I had been skulling balls left and right, so I decided to try out this "quiet hands" idea. BINGO! My chips and pitches are so much better now! Thanks Terry!
iluv5pam says:
wowie wowie wowie. Just got to give Terry a round of applause on a great club. Took a couple balls to tune it in, but once I got it down, the SW is a thing of beauty. Dunked a sandshot off the lip, from about 20 yards away cause the thing cut through the sand like a hatori honzo sword. Came out mid-trajectory, landed soft, spun just right and just where i wanted it, rolled about 5 feet in perfect form and speed, landed in the hole like a putt. Thank you again Terry!
rlent00 says:
I take a no back swing NBS approach. At address my body (feet)is slightly open, however my shoulders stay true to the target line. I then line up the face of the club with the target line then bring the club back enough for the shot. The club is then pumped slightly(like getting ready to throw a ball, Then without moving my arms, the body core only, turns to the target which allows the club to stay in the proper position. The further back you bring the club the more distance you will get on the ball. This should take sculling out of the picture. Works for chips and pitches.

Bob Bogie
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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