Choosing Your Weapons - Shot by Shot
Greetings from Orlando, oobers! We arrived on Sunday evening for the annual PGA Merchandise Show, and made our first golf outing yesterday, playing 36 at Southern Dunes in Haines City. If you are ever in the Orlando area and are looking for a great experience, I highly recommend this one. It’s become one of our favorites over the years.

But the Wedge Guy’s work must go on, so before we head to the course again today, I want to give away another EIDOLON wedge for a reader question. This week’s winner is Mark S, who asked:
If a person is not yet proficient with wedges but is working to improve, would you recommend just one wedge until they get comfortable with it and then adding others? If so, what loft would you recommend starting with? Or would you recommend using a complete set, say pitching, gap, sand and lob and trying to become proficient with each at the same time?
Mark, this question doesn’t have any “right” answer, because some profess strong beliefs in the “one club- many swings” theory, and others in the “few swings – multiple clubs” theory. I’m in the latter group, because I know how little most golfers are willing to practice their short games, and I like the KISS method to most things. Simple is . . . . well, s-i-m-p-l-e.

In my way of thinking, you can learn two basic short game min-swings and with a selection of clubs have a vast number of shots.
1. The basic pitch. This min-swing is very clean and simple, quiet hands, club path is lower going back and lower coming through impact. It produces a shot that flies lower and with reduced spin so the ball releases more when it lands. If you will spend just a little time around the chipping/putting green – or on the course – hitting this shot with various clubs from lob wedge to pitching wedge, you will quickly see what to expect. Your lob wedge will produce a higher flight with a little more spin, the pitching wedge a much lower flight with minimum spin. The more wedges you experiment with and observe, the more shot options you have with this one simple swing method.

2. The soft pitch. To me this is the other short game staple. The ball is a little more forward in your setup, and the hands a little more active. The club is lifted a little more vertically on the backswing, with a little more set in the wrists. It produces a softer shot with a higher ball flight and more spin. Again, if you will perfect the technique, you can find that each wedge will give you a slightly different result in terms of carry height, spin and roll-out.
The reason I like to have both of these shots, and use a variety of wedges is that I think the best shot around the greens is the one that requires the least clubhead speed to execute. Failure to execute a wedge shot generally falls into either the thin or fat category. If you break down and catch a short wedge shot “right in the eyebrows”, the slower the club is moving, the less disastrous the outcome. A soft chip hit thin, for example, will roll out past the hole for sure, but it might just stay on the green. A tricky lob shot, however, also hit thin, is over the world because of the greatly increased clubhead speed.

If I have 15 feet of collar or rough to carry, and then 25-40 feet of green to work with, the high percentage shot is one that safely carries onto the green and then rolls out the rest of the way. A basic pitch with a PW requires significantly less clubhead speed than a high, spinning shot to the flag with a sand or lob wedge, so there is a margin of safety there that is generally your friend.

Now, that all said, Mark, those who have excellent skills and are willing to practice to keep them sharp will undoubtedly argue for the one club approach, and that’s what makes golf great. Listen to all, and then find what works for YOU. Because in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Thanks for sending in your question, and watch for great input from your fellow “oobers”.
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 ]
activesense says:
I went for it and added the full set to my PW and decided to practice with each of the clubs. It is great to stand off the practice green and hit the same shot with each of the clubs, learning how the increased loft affects the flight and roll of the ball each time. I still need a lot more practice with the wedges, I generally pick the right club for the job in theory, just the execution isn't always where it needs to be. Also don't be afraid to experiment using irons for chipping. If I am in some longer stuff just off the green with a long way to the stick, I will use my 7i. Not a lot of lift needed, just enough to get onto the green and get some great roll. I have even watched people hole out from the edge of the fringe with a 5W because the longer grass was in the way of a putter stroke.
Terry said it best when he talked about listen to lots of golfers and do what works best for you.
1/26/10
 
mjaber says:
I personally like, and use, the one-swing-many-club method. While I was shopping for new irons, I got into a discussion with the sales person, who has been playing for many years. He only carries 2 wedges, pitch and sand. He learned all of the different swings, and is comfortable doing it. I told him I carry 4 wedges, and he agreed with me that for someone of my skill level, I'm better off because it allows me to enjoy the game.

I think, depending on how your skill level increases over time, that you should learn to hit many different shots with all of your clubs, but not to the point where you get so frustrated you ponder giving up the game entirely.
1/26/10
 
SingleDigits says:
Great article. I never considered the "margin of safety" factor when deciding on a shot, which is very good advice -- but I've always tried to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

I carry lots of wedges (5) because I'm more likely to execute a shot with a full swing than an abbreviated one. If I only had a pitching wedge and a sand wedge I'd be using a lot more half and 3/4 swings.
1/26/10
 
bducharm says:
I get bored using the method @mjaber describes. I actually try to create different shots. I mostly use my 56* wedge but LOVE to play around with my 60* as well. I guess it's ADD on the golf course...
1/26/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
From the article - "Listen to all, and then find what works for YOU. Because in the end, that’s all that really matters."
- Great stuff again from Terry.

I try and practice from all scenarios around the chipping/putting green, if possible. I like setting up ‘less than ideal’ scenarios with my wedges and swings, to see what the ball is going to do coming out and on to the green.

I like the margin of safety advice as well.
1/26/10
 
mschad says:
Just got to my email..... thanks Terry!! Now I need to decide what degree to get. I'm excited to try it.
Great advice, and I like the thoughts you all have added.
1/26/10
 
activesense says:
Deciding what degree to get, mschad ???? Wasn't that the purpose of your question in the first place?
1/26/10
 
mjaber says:
@bducharm... I sometimes do too, but I'd rather be bored and on the green than frustrated walking back and forth across the green 3 or 4 times :)
1/27/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@mjaber
Best advice I got from a new golfing buddy (who shoots is the mid 70's consistently) 'I pretty much play "boring" golf.'
Interpretation = following a lot Terry columns. Playing a safe out from trouble, playing within his swing from tee to green. He shoots in the mid 70's - How can I argue with him?
1/27/10
 
Banker85 says:
@lcgoler - your friend is right on. For most of us the more boring we play the better we will score.

I carry pw,gw,sw,lw and have a couple swings with each. For me its easier to keep it simple like Terry said. once i am 95% comfortable with those couple shots i will try and spice it up. I mean i can do the flop, and open the face way up, and 3/4, 1/2 swings but dont have time to practice them so i stick with what i feel comfortable with.
1/27/10
 
zandercutt says:
take lob wedge 40 yards and in and from the sand. 56 around the greens. p wedge when u want extra control. 8 iron when u are just off the green
1/28/10
 
cgreen919 says:
@banker85- i agree with your methodology, i use one that is basically the same except i dont have a lw in my bag.

while playing boring golf can often lead to lower scores, i think challenging yourself and going for it is worth it. if you dont take the chance, you never know if something is possible until you try it
1/28/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@Banker85 - Great thinking on the comfort/confidence shots.

Agree with you Ccgreen919/Banker - but I think we probably can all agree that we let our ego's get in the way of "boring golf" and try and 'man-up' on that 210yd knock-down-punch-cut-fade-draw with the 5wood through the trees and around the corner to the green... We're Men - it's what we do!! [thumps chest and lets out a primal howl....]
1/28/10
 
Banker85 says:
quick question? do all titleist clubs have serial #'s? i have a 260.12 vokey wedge chrome and it doesn't have one, my others do (52*, 56*). just curious?
1/29/10
 
sepfeiff says:
I think you ought to start doing video....
1/29/10
 
newrider says:
I carry 4 wedges and can hit them all high, low, dead handed, high spinning etc. To me 90% of my game is from 130 yards in. I love having a lot of options depending on the weather, course conditions, swing of the day and so on.
1/30/10
 
Albatross says:
I carry four wedges and have used them beginning whenever the lob wedge and gap wedge first showed up. I have learned to hit several different shots with each using longer or shorter swings and differing ball positions depending on conditions. This allows me to play lots of courses with varying conditions.
2/11/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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