It is often to the detriment of many golfers in that if one aspect of their all round play isn’t up to scratch, then by the 18th, it has cost their scorecard dearly. This could be any aspect, or even multiple aspects such as distance off the tee, or accuracy or even both, hitting off the fairway, poor connections from face to ball and also the short game. However, despite all of these possible shortcomings in any persons game, many players both professional and of course more commonly for amateurs, using the wedge to maximum efficiency tends to be a problem.
With the short game accounting for more than 50% of shots you play in a round, improving your wedge play is the first step to shooting a lower score. They act as the goalkeepers of golf by saving shots from both turf and sand. Golf wedges come in all different lofts, finishes, bounce and grinds to help get closer to the pin from anywhere inside of 125 yards. Wedges have the highest lofts of any clubs and they have a range in loft from 45 degrees, which is the pitching wedge right up until the loftiest club, the lob wedge which is 64 degrees. Loft is the angle at which the club face lies relative to the shaft.
The pitching wedge (PW) – the next most lofted club after the nine iron – will usually come with any set of irons you purchase. The loft of the pitching wedge is typically between 45 and 48 degrees and it is mainly used for shots outside of 100 yards – the average club golfer hits a pitching wedge around 105 yards, while the Tour professional carries it around 125 yards. It is the most versatile of all the wedges because it can be used for hitting ‘full out’ shots or ‘chip-and-runs’ around the green.
The sand wedge (SW) typically carries a loft between 54 and 58 degrees, and as its name suggests, is mainly used for bunker play. The average club golfer hits a full sand wedge 70 yards, while a Tour professional carries it 100 yards. Because of its wide, rounded and curved head, the SW is ideal for deft little chips from the fringe and for playing those belly-wedge putts from the collar of greenside rough (striking the ball on its equator with the leading edge).
Gap wedges range in loft from 50 to 55 degrees and are a compromise between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. A gap wedge is particularly important to use today because the five-degree difference in degrees between the SW and PW in the 1960s has now grown to approximately 10 degrees. This has created room for club manufacturers to respond by inventing a new club to fill the “gap”, and of course, encourage us to buy more products.
The lob wedge has a loft anywhere between 60 and 64 degrees. It is useful for throwing the ball up very high from short distances, also known as the ‘flop shot’. A lob wedge is built more for more finesse than power so 30 yards is probably its optimum distance for the amateur. A pro, however, will not only use it over a hazard, but from the fairway for those 75 to 95-yard shots that need to land softly with some spin.
Making the Swing
Now that we have become accustomed to the types of wedges there are and the importance of this type of club, we will now explore further on utilizing a High Spinning wedge shot. By using the wedge and creating a high spin, it can ultimately be the difference between saving a few strokes by turning two or more shots into one by creating a realistic opportunity of a makeable putt.
The five essentials to hitting a High Spinning wedge shot are as follows.
1. Perfect Lie – Putting maximum spin on a wedge shot requires the right lie. Specifically, the ball must be sitting up and lying cleanly, with little or no grass behind it. The more of the ball’s surface that is exposed to the clubface, the more it will spin. Expect maximum spin when hitting from an uphill lie with the wind blowing against you.
2. Lean Left – It is recommended by professionals of the game to put the majority of your weight on your left leg (Lefties with their right) and then lean your upper body only slightly towards the target. This will create a steep swing which promotes hitting the ball cleanly and before the turf. By taking on an open stance, this will allow you to make a steep swing and furthermore a precise contact.
3. Swing Upright – During the backswing motion, it is advised to keep your weight on your front leg and your upper body leaning towards the target. Restrict body motion as you swing your arms on an upright path. Most importantly, keep your arms and the club in front of your body rather than letting them swing around to your side or behind you.
4. Check Your Impact – It is vitally important that your technique and motion is effective in order to produce the results you wish. Before a round, stand in front of the mirror at home and check the impact. At impact, the left wrist should be ahead of the ball, the shaft angled towards the target, and the back knee pointing ahead of the ball. A proper wrist position ensures the clubface hits the ball first and then the turf.
5. Finish Strong – To ensure for maximum backspin, it is vital that the trailing arm should not rotate over the leading arm throughout the impact. Instead, rotate the entire right side through the shot to promote good acceleration and prevent a scooping effect.