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Hitting Better Wedge and Short Iron Shots
As I observe golfers of all skill levels, among the shots that I think give golfers the most difficulty are the full-swings with the wedges and short irons. The most common problem I see are trajectories that are way too high, leading to distance control that...well, is not controlled.

The key to consistent accuracy with the short-range clubs is to control the trajectory of the shot, which in turn controls the distance the ball will travel in the air. If your short iron and wedge shots are high sometimes and lower sometimes, then your carry distance is most likely to also be all over the place. This is aggravated by the trend to cavity-back, thin face designs carried over from technology applied to the middle irons, then extended to the short clubs. But that’s another story (see www.scorgolf.com).

The other part of the equation is that golfers’ haven’t spent the time necessary to learn how to properly swing the short, high-lofted clubs to effect those “tour-like” trajectories and pinpoint distance control. But you can learn to hit better full swing shots with your wedges and short irons, if you’ll just follow a few basic thoughts;
  1. Don’t try to hit them as hard. When you have a long club in your hand, you’re thinking distance, but when you have a club over 40* of loft, your singular thought should be control. And you’ll get better control if you throttle back about 15-20% from what you think a full swing really is. That will bring your trajectories down and make your carry distance more consistent. It really doesn’t matter if you hit that pitching wedge 115 or 135 – can you do it every time?

  2. Get your hands lower. In the coffee table book, “The Hogan Mystique”, Ken Venturi offers commentary on a number of photos of Ben Hogan. One that has always stuck with me is a shot of Hogan hitting a wedge shot into a green, and Venturi commented that “Hogan was an excellent ‘pitcher’ of the golf ball. Almost all good low hands players are. In his full swing, Hogan didn’t have the high looping hands of a Jones, his hands were much lower at the top of his swing.” If you will think of getting your hands and the club more around your body, rather than up high at the top of the backswing, you will find your trajectories will come down and your distance control get much better.

  3. Soften your right hand. In our putting, we keep the left hand dominant, and the right hand is softer on the putter for touch. At the opposite end of the spectrum, with a driver we can hit hard with our right, as long as we also hit equally hard with our left side. As you get into the wedges and short irons, think of softening the right hand so that the left side can lead the club all the way through impact. This keeps the clubhead from passing the hands, which adds loft to the club and causes a higher ball flight.
So, there are three keys to hitting better shots with your scoring clubs. I’d like to hear what you guys have to say, and how this works out for you if you’ll give these tips a try this weekend.
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 ]
birdieXris says:
Great article and something i hope everyone reads. This is exactly what i've been trying to practice on the range during the last 4 weeks. Well, it's been the main focus anyway. a 3/4 swing properly struck goes 100% of my former full swing distance, it's just lower and spins like a mofo. If higher handicap players can master this technique, they won't be high handicap players anymore.
3/23/12
 
Backquak says:
This is also were you can really tell the difference between shafts. When I changed to a kbs shaft fr a dynamic gold I found a whole new world of trajectories and spin. My old shaft had one shot, hitting a half swing pitch just took the spin off the ball and always rolled a mile. the new shaft allows me to control the shot trajectory but still stop the ball.
3/23/12
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I love KBS shafts... great article!
3/23/12
 
larrynjr says:
I've been working my wedges and trying to dial in distances using the clock method. 7,8,9 oclock arm positions for different distance in pitching and a 7&8 oclock for chips. It worked well last week but not quite so well yesterday. After my round yesterday it is very apparent that I need to work on my putting! either leaving things short or way past the cup. I can only remember 1 close lag putt. I did have several 6'-8' putts go in and one 15' but i also missed at least 2, 2'ers.....
3/23/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
I think ball position and face orientation at address are major considerations too. Only when you have confidence in making a clean strike can you ever hope to control your distance, which is like, more than half the battle.
3/23/12
 
mlf16507 says:
Low Hands is the reason I my SW and LW bent 2* flatter than the rest of my short irons.
3/24/12
 
windowsurfer says:
Good tips. #1 is key to club selection and belongs on the course, mos def. #2/3 I might want to take to the practice range next week, but for today's round, think I'll KISS with a wedge swing thought like, "hit the ball first" or some such.
3/25/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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