Hitting Better Wedge and Short Iron Shots

golf wedge shotAs I observe golfers of all skill levels, among the shots that I think give golfers the most difficulty are the full-swings with the wedges and short irons.   The most common problem I see are trajectories that are way too high, leading to distance control that . . . well, is not controlled.

The key to consistent accuracy with the short-range clubs is to control the trajectory of the shot, which in turn controls the distance the ball will travel in the air.  If your short iron and wedge shots are high sometimes and lower sometimes, then your carry distance is most likely to also be all over the place.  This is aggravated by the trend to cavity-back, thin face designs carried over from technology applied to the middle irons, then extended to the short clubs.  But that’s another story (see www.scorgolf.com).

The other part of the equation is that golfers’ haven’t spent the time necessary to learn how to properly swing the short, high-lofted clubs to effect those “tour-like” trajectories and pinpoint distance control.  But you can learn to hit better full swing shots with your wedges and short irons, if you’ll just follow a few basic thoughts;

  1. Don’t try to hit them as hard.  When you have a long club in your hand, you’re thinking distance, but when you have a club over 40* of loft, your singular thought should be control.  And you’ll get better control if you throttle back about 15-20% from what you think a full swing really is.  That will bring your trajectories down and make your carry distance more consistent.  It really doesn’t matter if you hit that pitching wedge 115 or 135 – can you do it every time?
  2.  Get your hands lower.  In the coffee table book, “The Hogan Mystique”, Ken Venturi offers commentary on a number of photos of Ben Hogan.  One that has always stuck with me is a shot of Hogan hitting a wedge shot into a green, and Venturi commented that “Hogan was an excellent ‘pitcher’ of the golf ball.  Almost all good low hands players are.  In his full swing, Hogan didn’t have the high looping hands of a Jones, his hands were much lower at the top of his swing.”  If you will think of getting your hands and the club more around your body, rather than up high at the top of the backswing, you will find your trajectories will come down and your distance control get much better.
  3.  Soften your right hand.  In our putting, we keep the left hand dominant, and the right hand is softer on the putter for touch.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, with a driver we can hit hard with our right, as long as we also hit equally hard with our left side.  As you get into the wedges and short irons, think of softening the right hand so that the left side can lead the club all the way through impact.  This keeps the clubhead from passing the hands, which adds loft to the club and causes a higher ball flight.

So, there are three keys to hitting better shots with your scoring clubs.  I’d like to hear what you guys have to say, and how this works out for you if you’ll give these tips a try this weekend.