Greenside Scoring - Favorite Club Or Variety?
There are two very distinct schools of thought when it comes to hitting all the variety of up-and-down shots around the greens. Stan Utley, who I greatly respect, is an advocate of using your sand wedge all the time, and learning how to do a variety of things with it. He's got lots of good company in the teaching community who share that viewpoint. The other side of the "argument", maybe most popularly expressed by Dave Pelz, is that you should know multiple shots with each of your wedges to bring the ultimate precision to your short game. I'm on this subject today as a result of a question from Travis M., who asked:
I have been researching short game play and have been watching many online instructional videos on pitching. I have heard a couple of the top instructors mention you should only pitch with your sand wedge. What are your thoughts?
Well, Travis, in my opinion . . . for the recreational golfer at least . . . we should do everything we can to make this game easier and more fun. And knowing that the typical recreational golfer has limited time to practice his or her short game, I’m a proponent of using all your scoring tools and learning one or two basic pitch/chip techniques. Then you can rely on the simple swing or two that you know and trust, and choose the club that will give you the results you are after . . . with that swing.

To my way of thinking, that makes this game so much easier. I’ve covered the basic pitching and chipping swing techniques here so I won’t go into detail again, but if you have the ability to execute the basic pitch, chip and lob technique, and can apply that to any club, then you have a full arsenal of scoring shots:
1. If you have short-sided the green, you can use your lob swing and your lob wedge to pop the ball up quickly and limit its roll.

2. When you have lots of green to work with, or the pin is on top of a slope, the basic pitch executed with a pitching wedge or even 9-iron will allow the ball to roll out and is much more reliable.

3. For a mid-range pitch into the wind, dropping back to a gap or pitching wedge will limit height and spin and prevent an “up-shooter” that comes up way short.

4. For a ball sitting up in the rough, the gap or pitching wedge will be less likely to get too far under the ball and come up short.

5. For greens that are firmer, the sand and lob wedges will allow you to have more spin control.

6. On uphill pitches, the lower lofted wedges can often produce more reliable results.
The list of applications can go on and on, but I suggest that is much more reliable for the average golfer to learn 2-3 basic swing techniques in the short game and then choose the club that will produce the results they are after. In one or two sessions around the practice green, you can learn what each club will deliver with each of your swing methods. And that will cut strokes off your score very quickly.

So, Travis, congrats on winning a new EIDOLON wedge of your choice, and I hope this helps you find a method you can believe in. Keep those questions coming, boys and girls, as The Wedge Guy is here to help all I can.


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[ comments ]
TravisMiller says:
Sweet, I can now replace my new off the shelf gap wedge with a custom one. Thanks Wedge Guy!
6/29/10
 
TravisMiller says:
The funny thing is I was reading the article and thought oh that sounds like something I was asking the wedge guy about....apparently I was right!
6/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
My instructor has been working with me exclusively around my sand wedge.
So far I have learned 3 different ways of using it to produce different flights and he assures me I'll learn more.
It has been much easier for me to remember how to produce the flight patterns possible from the use of one device.
I suspect we'll branch out to different lofts as the positions and stroke patterns become more intuitive.
For now I agree with Utley.
6/29/10
 
bducharm says:
My belief is that most amatuer golfers (at least double digit handicaps) rely too much on a 60* wedge. The closer to the ground you keep the ball, the better off you will be. Obviously circumstance may not allow that but many times it does. Even if means using the putter from off the green, you will more often get a mediocre putt closer than a mediocre chip/pitch. I agree with Utley - I use my 56* wedge most of the time around the green.
6/29/10
 
Scott Shields says:
Methodical ... 3 wedges... each wedge can be hit with three strengths, (75,50,25), each wedge can be a chip, or pitch. And each can be open face or closed face ... So I try to first look at a shot and say to myself ... 52 degree wedge, chip, 50%, and close face for extra roll....works most the time.
6/29/10
 
2ndSwing says:
Don't forget that inspecting your lie and determining what options you have from it are just as important as how much green you have to work with on greenside shots.
6/29/10
 
aaronw409 says:
I have always used my sand wedge around the greens, but recently I've tried to incorporate the lob wedge. It hasn't worked out. I think I'm going back to just the sand wedge.
6/29/10
 
mikeaddis says:
I almost exclusively use my lob wedge around the green. Most of the courses that I play at have very fast greens that don't hold shots well. Usually able to get up and down with my lob wedge and my putter.
6/29/10
 
rmumph1 says:
I believe in getting the ball on the ground as quick as possible to have the best results. I default to sand wedge for most shots as I can hit it low to make it run up to the hole or hit it hit to make it stick. If I have more than 10 feet of room on the green to the hole I use the PW. I only use Lob wedge if I have limited green to work with and need to ball to stop quickly. You need to take into consideration what lie you have as well. I have a tougher time hitting lob wedge with the lie is firm.
6/29/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Love this topic. I am v close to youngstructural's system but with two wedges - 60*/8* and 50*/6*. 55* SW got bumped from rotation cuz I often need extra loft, close in. For low rollers I just close down the face, same as I did for 55. 50* gives me xtra-long, low bumps on lg, fast greens and also hi shots from 50-100 yds. I can spin ball best wit 50*, so I hit fewer shots short cuz am confident that I can stop it. 50* is fav club, since going to Call Tour ix and keeping grooves sharp.
6/29/10
 
birdieXris says:
My greenside play is dictated by the shot at hand and the course conditions. I've used a 60* down to a 5i for chips depending on the lie and the shot needed. On average though, i find myself with the wedges 52* through 60*. They're so versatile that they cover just about everything.
6/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
I'm w/ aaron409.
I tried a 60* LW and it was so frustrating I think its still in the creek bushes 'tween teebox 3 and green 7 at Green Tree GC. O_o
6/29/10
 
windowsurfer says:
>still in the creek bushes . . . so, it's in thE bay?

My buddy uses SW for everything and is deadly. He also won a 1-club tournament with an 8i.
6/29/10
 
sepfeiff says:
@Kurt the Knife - Agree with your instructor. I've got at least 5 different shots with my 56 at 20 yards. I can put all of them within 5 feet. It's then that you realize your putting sucks. FWIW The only other club I chip with is my 9i for bump and run.
6/29/10
 
Ward says:
for someone who doesn't practice often, using one club is the easiest way

changing clubs may sound ideal, as you're choosing the best implement for the individual task of each shot, but a 7i is going to roll out different than a 9i that's going to roll out different from a PW or SW, add in the different swingweights in your irons vs your wedges, different lengths, different shaft flexs, and you're adding in tons of variables that don't need to be in there.

using one club lets you have a better understanding of what that shot will do when it hits the green, and exactly how hard you need to swing to get your desired distance.

I'd rather know how to work around the green with one club well, than to know how to work around the green with 7 clubs not as confidently
6/29/10
 
DiC says:
Recently I've found myself choosing the club based more on my lie than how much green I have to work with etc.. I'd rather hit my pw that is a blade style (thank you Terry and eidolon) on hard ground and only try to get a higher flying shot when I feel more confident I'm going to get under the ball with my chunkier, cavity back, larger bounce, sw that is matched with my set. Also like to hit the longer chips with something like a 7 iron.
6/29/10
 
DiC says:
Meant to add that if I'm short sided but on hard ground I'd still rather hit the pw to get good contact and maybe have a long putt coming back than try to hit a floaty sw and end up bouncing the club into the middle of the ball to plug it I the bunker wall or send it shooting 30 feet over the other side of the green.
6/29/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
@windowsurfer
the bay?
Well, I felt like i tried to toss it that far (~35 miles) but only made 35'
6/29/10
 
Bryan K says:
First and foremost, I play about 90% of my greenside shots with my 60* lob wedge. I can play a ton of different kinds of shots with it, and I mix and match different kinds of shots to create different results. I don't use my lob wedge on shots where I have a good lie (fairway or first cut off the green) if I need a lot of roll. However, I almost always use a wedge when I'm within 50 yards. The rare exception would be hitting my pitching iron or nine iron on a long uphill chip where I'd like to get over just a little bit of the first cut.
6/29/10
 
Privatejet1 says:
I recently went through a bout with the shanks(lasted 4 months) using my 56 and to me it's like tennis elbow. One day it shows up and becomes a pain on the score card and then magically it goes away.
My point is: When I've actually had tennis elbow I tried many things to help it heal and listened to advice from many people about what they did to remedy the pain.
I have had a couple of very good golfers and a teaching pro give me some workouts to get out of the shanks and that really didnt help me. No matter what I used.
I used everything in my bag from 65 yards in and 8 out of 10 shots was a shank.
Well lets just say the shanks just went away.
To me 56 is a very predictable club for every shot around the green.
6/29/10
 
Scott Shields says:
I sometimes get the shanks with full swings of my short wedges ... even half half type pitches ... and for me it always would come back to my turn / pivot. If I got too handsy, or even a little handsy, I would shank / push slice. That is one case where I use my pivot exclusively to control the club face and the hands are just hooks for the club to my body. There is nothing worse then bombing a drive, only to shank your wedge shot in and take a 6 on a hole instead of giving youself a chance at a 3 or 4....
6/30/10
 
mjaber says:
I'm in between both methods. I have a prefered go-to club (52*) that I use more often than any other for chipping. If I have something odd (short-sided with a bunker between me and the green, odd lie, weird green contours) I'll attempt to get creative (with occasional success).

My preference is a chip and run. Get the ball onto the green as soon as possible and let it roll.
6/30/10
 
TeT says:
up and over or bounce and run... depends upon trap location and or steep mounds.... After that its all about proper strike and how little or much ummph you dial up for the equation.
6/30/10
 
SteveS says:
I've tried both Utley and Pelz; for me Utley's is the best. Better contact with the ball and easier to manage. Similar to Michelson's fold and hold. Pelz's is too complicated and requires more thinking about what club to use than the shot, lie, etc. I carry 3 wedges:47*, 51* and 55*; very seldom use the 51*. I also use my 20* hybrid for long, uphill chips with a lot of green. I'll sometimes use the 20* on very long putts on the green; I seem to get it closer than using the putter; the ball just jumps off the face-takes some practice and getting use to; but effective.
6/30/10
 
Bryan K says:
I'm a Michelson guy. Since I discovered the hinge and hold, my chipping has gone from being good to being, by far, the strongest part of my game. I didn't realize it could be so fun to consistently go up and down.
6/30/10
 
cicero says:
I agree with Ward. It seems that, for me, it takes more practice to be able to get proficient at using multiple wedges around the green. It's like I have to learn the feel for hitting shots with 4 or 5 different clubs. Because I don't get to play and practice frequently, I've found that I have my most success getting comfortable with one wedge (60*). It ends up being like tossing the ball with my hand.
6/30/10
 
Swingem says:
I'm in the "less-is-more" camp. I do most of my work around the green with my 58* and 54* wedges. I can hit darts, runners, and lobs with both. I might use the gap if I'm further out.
6/30/10
 
Matt F says:
I'm trying to utilise my 3 wedges for chipping depending on the distance just by using 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 swings. I usually use my 8 iron for bump and runs if I'm just off the green whether it's the apron, frog hair or rough.

Matt
7/1/10
 
Jattruia says:
i have 3 wedges to use inside 100 yd (52, 56 and 60). And depending on lie, distance, green, etc, i can use almost any club at any time. It seems to be working out.

@BJohn13: What are some of the tons of shot you pull off with your 60*? It might be my favorite club and i'm always looking to advance my wedge game.
7/1/10
 
Bryan K says:
Well....there are three different types of swings I use with my wedges. One is the chipping swing, which is completely based off of Michelson's hinge and hold method. The second is a pitch shot, where I use my waist and shoulders to add a little oomph. The third is a full shot, where I actually take a full swing involving my shoulders, waist, and wrists.

Each one of these three swings has several different "strengths" which are determined by how far I bring my clubhead back. With the chip shot, I go by feel. Anything outside a chip shot, I'm actually looking to get an exact yardage to determine which one of three strengths to hit with...short, medium, or long.

And with each one of those nine (or so) different swings, I can modify the loft I want to get by opening or closing the club face.

By my calculation, that's 27 different shots. That might be a bit short of a "ton", but I never claimed to not be an embellisher.
7/1/10
 
onedollarwed says:
I have used both methods - used to use a 52* for everything and then a 58* for everything. It WAS the easiest and most reliable method, and yes, you can hit MOST shots with one club.
However, there were shots that just couldn't be with the highest percentage of success. And certain combinations of shots and yardages were not as possible as I'd like. Like me, I bet most of the "one club" people actually don't attempt certain shots, or envision them based on club/ skill/ yardage limitations. In spring of '09 I went to 3 wedges 52,56,60 with widely varying bounce angles. It was a 1 year project, with much adjustment but is now well worth it. Just one example: playing a low bounce 60 back in the stance on a tight fairway for a medium pitch still has plenty of loft. A 52 played back in the stance for the sake of lie, just can't give you much loft.
7/1/10
 
onedollarwed says:
In summary: If you hit all shots with one club, you're probably limited by choice, and by design, but probably to your benefit - because if you tried something different you'd stink at first for sure. Why learn to use a clutch when you drive automatic just fine?
However, if you're somewhat analytical, you can space your wedges and vary their properties enough to expand your shot making and scoring ideas when you're ready. It requires some homework and some counseling and some money and some practice - and who want to do that?
PAST=50*PI w/set and 58*14bounce for everything else
NOW=48*PIw/set=140yds

52*7bounce=greenside chipping or 115-130yds back in stance, longer sand

56*14bounce=fluffy lies, short sand, flops, 100-115yds middle to forward in stance

60*4bounce=tight pitches, extreme sand, steep chips, high spin lob, or 90-100yds back in stance.

or of course... judge by the lie and footing, get a visualization for any of the clubs and improvise.
7/1/10
 
pvt4211 says:
I play mostly in Northern California and so have 3 wedges for full shots - 52, 56 and 60. I typically use the 56* for chips and my PW for the chip and runs. One other thing - I have been increasingly using my hybrid to chip, especially on uphill shots and when I have a lot of green to work with.
7/2/10
 
windowsurfer says:
I have had sim ordeal/odyssey as one$weds -- I ended up with 2 wedges as described earlier, but use a 3rd - 55* exclusively for sand. I am surprised no "chipper" guys weighed in here. There is some prejudice agin those clubs, but I've lost plenty of snips to fellas who know how to use 'em. Gripping down on a hybrid is really kinda like a chipper, eh?
7/2/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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