Beginner Series: How To Hit A Wedge

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After your putter, your wedges affect your score more directly than any other club in your bag. Think about it, when you hit a good chip or approach shot with your wedges, you put yourself in a direct position to score well.

The flip side of that is true so that if you hit a poor short approach or chip shot then you have to hit another one and hope it gets you closer to the hole.

I have negated more good drives and saved more bad drives with my wedges than I could count, and it is these clubs that can really turn your game around.

As you continue reading through this article we will offer you instruction and advice on how to hit a wedge and make it one of the strengths of your game.

Our main advice is to not forget about them on the range because learning how to hit wedges is one of the most important things you will do.

Step By Step Instructions

 

1. Check Your Equipment

Most wedges focus on feel and spin at the expense of forgiveness, but if you are reading this article then forgiveness is probably one of your biggest concerns. Recently club manufacturers began to put more effort into building wedges with a cavity back design and extra forgiveness. We would suggest finding one of these clubs, and reading this article about the best wedges for beginners.

We also suggest you find a forgiving club that has good face technology to provide the extra spin that you will want around the green.

Finally finding the right ball that will give you the distance you need off the tee but with the spin and feel you will want for your wedges. 

2. Find Your Target and Consider Your Shot Shape

While your shot shape will not be as evident with your wedges in terms of moving the ball right or left, you will get a sense of how high you hit your shots and how much spin you put on the ball. This is an aspect of shot shaping because generally the higher you hit it the softer it will land on the green. Likewise, the more spin you are able to put on the ball, the quicker your chips will check up and the more you can aim directly at the flag on approach shots. We are not saying that you should try to put more spin on the ball or hit the ball higher, but to start you should figure out what your wedges are going to do and play your shots accordingly.

3. Setup

A mistake that a lot of beginning players make is that they put the ball in or near the middle of their stance for every club. If you have noticed in the rest of this series that the higher the loft and shorter the shaft of the club, in general, you move it a little further back in your stance. While short irons should be placed right around the center of your stance, for wedges the placement should be closer to the back of your stance. Another tip is, at setup, to move your hands slightly in front of the ball to create a backward shaft line. This not only takes some of the loft off of your club, giving you more control, it also gets your hands in a better position to come through the ball.

4. Grip Pressure

Your grip is even more important for your wedge play than it is for any other clubs. When the pressure is on, like often happens with a wedge in your hand, you have an even greater tendency to put a death grip on your club. At the same time, wedges rely on feel more than any other club and you lose a lot of feel when you grip the club to tightly. You want soft hands so that you have less tension in your arms so that your swing can remain consistent and you can get the ball as close to the hole as possible. With wedges, the release of your club head is very important, but with tension that release does not happen.

5. Takeaway

Your takeaway is a little different depending on the club you are using and the purpose with which you are using it. For chips, flops, and pitches, your takeaway should be as smooth and as simple as possible. When you move back to approach shots from further out, your takeaway will be a little deeper and not as wide as it is with other clubs because your attack angle will be even higher.

6. Down Swing

In general, the harder you swing, the higher the ball is going to go and the less control you are going to have. Even if you hit the ball on the sweet spot, when you are using a high loft with a lot of speed, that shot will be tough to control. With wedges, the downswing will come at a much greater angle which, when accompanied by the extra loft of a wedge, will cause the ball to go higher with less distance. It is easy to overswing a wedge but it is also one of the worst clubs with which to overswing. If possible, never go more than 80-85% of your power capacity when hitting a wedge but instead just move up to a higher loft. Here is a good chart to show you what your attack angle should be with wedges compared to other clubs:

chart for pga tour swing trackman data

(Photo courtesy of wizgolf.com)

Here’s a video of Nick Faldo talking about the transition to your downswing:

7. Think ¾ Swing

This is not the same thing as the speed of your downswing though it can affect it. In fact, we have seen too many times a player go to a ¾ swing with a wedge just to swing as hard as they can at the ball. When you combine a ¾ swing with the fact that you are only swinging with about 80% of your power, it is a great recipe for control and accuracy around the greens.

8. Maintain Your Balance and Hold Your Finish

Balance is key regardless of the shot you are hitting. Wedges, in particular, rely on precision and consistency to perform well. When you are balanced throughout your swing you add consistency and athleticism to your game and these are especially important for wedge play. Just like with your other clubs, your finish can show you what type of balance you had during your swing. Hold your finish about the same distance forward as you went back during your backswing. This will help you to control distance and help you maintain balance through contact.

Check out this video from Chris Ryan Golf for a great beginner’s tutorial about How To Hit a Wedge:

Tips For Hitting Your Wedges

 

Find Your Distance Based on a Clock Face

Finding your distance based on a clock face is a great way to learn how you hit your wedges. If you picture a clock around you, with your head at 12 and the club at 6, the distance comes in based on what number of the clock your front hand reaches on the back swing. 11:00 is about a full shot, so start there. When your lead hand gets to 11, make the transition and then go down from there. Practice at 10, 9, and 8 just to see about how far you hit the ball when your lead hand arrives at each number. Once you get the hang of it, you have taught yourself how far back to bring the club at different distances.

Compressing Your Wedges

To compress any club in your bag means to take away some of the loft from that club. To do this, rather than moving back with your backswing and then coming through the ball from that position, you stay center or lean a little left during the takeaway. You could also start by moving your hands a little in front of the ball at setup. By doing these two things you take some of the loft away from your wedge and make it easier to hit and control.

MrShortGame Golf put out this video with 5 tips for a better wedge game:

Final Thoughts On How To Hit Wedges

Wedge play is one of the most important aspects of the game of golf. They help you punch out of trouble, dig out of sand, lob a ball over an obstacle, and land on the green softly with a chance to score. We hope after reading this article you got some tips, some instructions, and had fun learning what is needed for a good wedge game. 

If you have other tips or ideas that we did not leave, please comment with that tip and let us know some other ways to improve our short game. Also, post a video of your favorite PGA Tour Pro when it comes to their short game.

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