Of all the questions I get from this column and a couple of other places where I take questions from listeners, the topic that comes up time and again is the subject of "half wedges" or "3/4 swings". In other words, a common challenge for most of us is hitting those shots that don't quite call for a full swing. Well, take heart in the fact that those are the ones that give tour players the most challenge as well too often.
From my view, there are several reasons why the partial swing shot is so difficult for most golfers. First of all, most don't practice these at all when we are on the range. For some reason, too many golfers feel like it is a "waste" of good range balls to not hit them full out. A shame, really, as you'll likely have nearly as many shots in a round of golf that are not a "full swing" as you will have those that are. To not practice these is shorting yourself.
The other major reason is that when facing a shot that calls for less than a full swing, most tend to get too quick and "hand-sy" on the shot. They limit their body turn and weight shift and rely on the small muscles in the hands and forearms to try to yield the right distance.
The 3 keys to hitting partial swing shots is to have a technique that is reliable and repeatable, practice it enough to know it, and learn how to use different clubs to produce different results with that learned partial swing. Let's break it down:
The most reliable technique for partial shots is to quiet your hands and control the swing with the turn of the body core, particularly the shoulders. I always advocate watching videos of Steve Stricker to see what this simple one-piece swing looks like so that you can have that picture in your mind when you are hitting these shots.
What I recommend is that you learn a repeatable half swing – that is taking the club back only so far that your left arm is parallel to the ground. Grip the club down at least an inch for this shot, and "get a little closer to your work" by flexing a little more at the knees and bending a little more from the hips. Practice deliberately to get the feel for this end-of-swing position, and focus on feeling that spot as you take the club back. Then, make a deliberate transition to the forward swing and into the follow-through.
Once you feel like you are really learning this, and can hit shots the same distance with a given club, move to the third key – club selection. Begin experimenting with different high-lofted clubs to see what changing clubs does to your distance. You'll find that your new half-swing will yield 4-7 yard distance increments as you move down from your lob wedge to sand wedge, to gap wedge to pitching wedge to 9-iron. Though ball flight will be lower with the lower lofts, you'll likely find that you still get enough spin with the lower lofts to give you adequate control over the spin and stopping of the ball.
Once you have invested just a little time into learning this shot, you will wonder how you ever got along without it, as now you can dissect the golf course into 4-7 yard increments from 100 yards and in like a surgeon.
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That is great advice. I don't know why I have never thought of adding in a 9 iron or even an 8 for that matter with the half swing. I am gonna practice that for the next couple of weeks before the State Net Championship. Thanks Wedge Guy!
Very timely advice. I do practice this on the range but last night it didn't go very well and I couldn't figure out why. I think that this will help the next practice session.
Half swings with longer clubs also come in handy every once in a while when staying below a tree branch is imperitive. Rather than try to hit a full punch with a 50°, I like hitting a half swing 4 to get 100 yards.
I practice the 3/4 shots at the range and i realized i need to be careful because i tend to quiet down and not "kill" the ball, getting the opposite result I would expect, which is hitting a shorter shot... tend to hit longer, more solid and with a better ball flight (lower and more penetrating)than my full swing...
I use half half half rule.
Grip it at half way.
Ball in the middle (half way between my feet) position
Half swing back swing.
Then, I just make a body turn (I concentrate on belt buckle turn) and let the weight of the club head drop down to the ball with full extension of the arm.
I am now getting hand of this...and usually gets half the distance from full shot.
This helps with my full swing as well, as all I have to do is take this same shot into full swing.
It is hard to practice when you have to pay for range balls, as you can go thru couple of buckets with no issues...I think that's why people don't practice this shot often.
I can see my handicap dropping, as this pitch/50% shot was one of my weaknesses as fat,thin, no distance control all contributed to extra strokes to my score card.
I must say that I was hitting my wedges well until a few weeks ago and then it left me. I couldn't figure out why until Terry's post today and I realized my hands were to active and I wasn't relying on my rotation. Only one true wedge shot today but I followed Terry's guidance and it was perfect. thanks.
Being old I used to play short/part shots with a swing much more handsy than advocated today. Over the last year I have tried using less hands. Now my shots are lower with no distance control. Say what you will, but I'm going back to using my hands.
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