Many of my students know that I place emphasis on practicing with the driver and the wedges. Statistically speaking, a round of golf is played mostly with woods, wedges, and the putter. According to Dave Pelz, 83% of the game is played with these clubs. And yet, most golfers practice or take lessons using middle irons! Follow the advice of Sam Snead as quoted in 1988, “The one mistake I made was practicing too many middle irons. If I had to do it all over again, I’d practice only the driver and wedges”.
So, let’s take a look at the important fundamentals in hitting wedge shots. Like any shot in golf, certain things must happen to ensure reliable contact and control.
You must have a proper stance and ball position
Your golf club must swing on plane
You must have a square clubface at impact
You must have the proper lag/forward lean of the golf shaft at impact
The distance the ball travels is proportional to the amount of swing you take
THE BROOM DRILL
A broom is a handy tool that helps will ALL aspects of executing wedge shots. Here’s how to do the drill:
1. Choke down on the broom handle as if it were the length of a sand wedge (pic 1)
2. Using a magic marker, mark the “clubface” on your broom with the letters “FACE”
3. Pivot your body and take a mini backswing until your arm reaches 8:00
4. Your wrist cock should now have the handle of the broom pointing at the ball (see top photo)
5. Look at the face of the broom – the face of the broom should be angled towards the ground and you should NOT be able to see the “FACE”
CONGRATULATIONS: you’ve now taken a half-swing that is on plane with a square clubface……….now we just have to get down from here!
Start your downswing by maintaining your wrist cock; the bend in your right wrist should remain all the way through impact. At impact, the broom should be leaning 15 degrees forward towards the target to give you the correct launch angle and spin rate of the ball (pic 3). If you try and release the club by flicking or rolling your wrists, the broom handle will bump you in your left side! Your pivot and body are doing the work – your shoulders should be open to the target line at impact. Continue the follow through by using your body and shoulders. The broom should finish waist high in restricted “knock down” or punch follow through with both arms straight.
To control distance, simply learn to control the length of your backswing. A clock system is a helpful reference. A full swing is a 10:00 backswing with your left arm. If you stop at 9:00 with your left arm (full wrist cock), you are making a ¾ length swing. If you stop at 7:30 with your left arm (full wrist cock), you are making a ½ length swing.