Golf Column: Improve Your Fairway Wedge by Adding Acceleration and Hitting the Ball Crisply

Off distance wedge shots from the fairway are one of the key areas of the game that separates better players from mid to high handicappers. It is very common for the mid and high handicappers to take too long of swing and try to decelerate just the right amount to get the ball to go the right distance.

This creates a multitude of errant shots which include fat, bladed, blocks right and pulls left, besides shots rarely going the correct distance. Oten when they do go the right distance there isn’t any check on the ball so it bounces right on through the green.

Better players will keep the acceleration in this shot which helps the ball not only go the right distance but also stay on line and and “check” with backspin. Here are some keys to help you understand this off distance shot and improve your scoring:

The lie. Understand that you need to be in the fairway or short cut grass to play this shot. The lie has to be tight. A “hard pan” lie will also apply. With this shot we are trapping the ball between the clubface and the turf in a downward fashion; “trap” is a key concept; unlike a shot coming from the rough where a player might try and slide the club under the ball.

The ball. Play a ball that spins. This is essential. There are a lot of them out there to chose from. I use a Titleist Pro V1 which has a Urethane cover and a firm outer core so as to help the ball get the check on this type of short shot. A hard ball isn’t going to cut it.

The groves. The USGA recently changed the rulings on the manufacturing of wedges, but unless you are playing USGA and tour events, you don’t have to worry about playing wedges with conforming groves and I would encourage you not to so you can get the benefit of the technology.

The set up.

– Ball position: We are going to trap the ball here, so the ball position must be back. Anywhere from 1” to 3” behind center. The further back, the lower the shot is going to take off. When playing into the wind, keep it further back so you can hit it low and driving and keep control of the ball.

– Stance: Narrow and open with weight slightly forward. This will help with the trapping motion, particularly the opened stance. You don’t want the club going inside on the back swing too fast but rather more with the alignment of the feet. This will allow for a steeper decent on the ball and the trap or pinch motion. For those who are old enough to remember, a la “Lee Trevino”.

-The Swing motion:

§ Let the wrists set or cock on the way back, but keep them firm on the way down and through. Setting them on the way back helps set up the “trap” to the shot. Firm on the way through keeps from flipping the clubhead and sliding it under the ball and makes the clubface literally trap the ball between it and the ground.

§ Use your core. This isn’t an arm only shot. In fact it is more of a shot from your core and torso leading the acceleration.

§Use your legs. The legs are very important and the better golfer realizes it. The legs shifting the weight back and forth keep the shot in rhythm and works in unison with the core.

§Finally, hit down. If you set up right you will be able to hit down hard and aggressive through the ball and you will catch the ball first. You don’t need to worry about fatting the shot even though you are going to take some turf because of the way you set up. So take a divot. That is going to help with the trap and getting some spin.

If you are interested in reviewing other articles from Coach Ron go to under “The Course” tab. Thanks for playing this great game and be sure to share it with someone else. Next month: The “skidder”.

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