Controlling Wedge Distances
You guys had lots to say in response to Tuesday’s post, so thank you for chiming in. That makes this blog more fun to write and more fun for all to read I’m certain.

Today I’m going to address the question that Anti-Mulligan asked about learning to hit wedges close to the hole. Developing the ability to hit accurate scoring shots– and dial in your distance within 2-3 yards most of the time – will make anyone’s scoring much better in a hurry. And I call the ‘scoring shots’ all those made with your clubs over 40* of loft, which will include your 9-iron. I see three very common errors in golfers in this part of their game, so see if any of these might describe you, A-M:
  1. Many golfers try to hit their scoring clubs too far. A “full” shot with a scoring club is made with much less effort than a “full” shot with a middle-iron or hybrid. That reduced swing speed allows you to better control the trajectory, which in turn makes the distance more consistent. If you hit these high, ballooning wedge and short iron shots, you will never get consistent on your distance. Work on your swing pace, tempo and power application. Throttle back and you will see your trajectories come down and distance control improve significantly. You’ll also see that accuracy improve.

  2. Many get too “hands-y” with these shots. As you move into the shorter clubs, that are used for precision shotmaking, you must quiet your hand action and control the swing more with the body core, the big muscles. They are less likely to “twitch” and manipulate the clubface. What you are after in the scoring clubs is a controlled swing that repeats reliably. To really understand what I’m talking about, watch this Steve Stricker video and pay attention to the extreme simplicity of his move back and through the ball. Watch it over and over and over and over . . . And watch this one to learn what is really going in Steve’s technique.

  3. Take Dead Aim. This was the famous advice of the legendary Harvey Penick. It applies on every shot, but is even more important on your precision scoring shots, where you want the ball to fly to a very precise spot and end up close to the hole. The Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot”, offered a bit of golf advice in the early scenes, where he reminds his young boys to “aim small, miss small”. I’ve referenced that before. When hitting scoring club approach shots, really fine-tune your aim to a specific point, whether the flag or a spot just left or right, short or long of it.
And the BONUS tip? P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E. You have to spend time on the range perfecting your scoring club technique. You have to hit hundreds . . . no, thousands . . . of shots with your scoring clubs to get good with them. And don’t just mindlessly pound balls into oblivion. Pick targets . . . different targets . . . and hit shots to them. Build little groupings of golf balls at various distances. This is the precise part of the game, and you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

One final note on getting great with your scoring clubs. If it’s important to you that you can hit a pitching wedge over about 125-130, then you’ll not likely ever get that good with these short clubs.

They are not meant to be hit that hard.
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 ]
Anti-Mulligan says:
Terry - Thanks for the article. This is the second time you have responded to one of my questions. I need to get a little less handsy and work more turning my body for the non full shots inside 100 yards. Also, with a toddler at home, I can only practice a couple times a week and play maybe twice a month. My expectations need to come down a little!
bducharm says:
Terry, I practice almost exclusively with my 9 iron down to 58 degree wedge. Calibrating distances are so important to good scores - especially with these clubs. Also, calibrating your putter!!! (
GolfSmith7 says:
I shot a 76 yesterday and it was bc I was taking dead aim at the flag with a 9 iron and under. I practice exclusively with my 9 and wedges. Preparing for my first world am.
GBogey says:
I've been working on this a lot since one of Terry's post a few weeks back and reading his Scor method guide. It has been a tremendous help to back off on these shots - hit with a smooth tempo as opposed to trying to hit hard. Much more consistent contact, direction, and longer distance. Unfortunately I have not had as much success in varying distances and still need a lot of work on distance control - usually miss by 20 feet or so - I'd like to get to 10 feet or closer so that I occasionally make the putt or at least have a very easy 2 putt.
GBogey says:
Watching the Stricker video, it seems almost like he is hitting a long pitch shot - very slight wrist cock and all body rotation. Did I miss anything or is this how everyone else sees it?
Banker85 says:
I hit a couple bad wedge shots and it was becasue i was swinging to hard. One shot i could have throttled back a 56* but instead hit the 60* trying to hit it hard and chunked it badly. So for me it is remembering to be soft and feeeely with the scoring clubs.
Anti-Mulligan says:
On the non full swings or the choke down swings I go left,right, short or long. In the words of Allen Iverson - We talkin bout practice. I think I need more practice.
onedollarwed says:
Well constructed post, Terry; thanks for the videos. No time to talk, off to practice.

BTW, my kids (G9, B6) suddenly took up golf this week for the first time. I had gotten them each a kiddie 9 iron a few years back, but never any interest. Now suddenly they want to go out in the yard and hit plastic balls. Luckily my son is swinging as a righty (as in years past he would turn the club over and swing lefty. I'm glad because if he continues we can share clubs, etc.) It's fascinating to watch their instinctual mechanics. I'll have to keep a diary. They've set up a course in the yard, though originally all they cared about was hitting it far, ha!
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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