Have you ever had a wedge in hand in the middle of the fairway and made a double bogey? Of course you have. We all have. Wedges are supposed to be easy to hit, our scoring clubs, but a lot of us have problems with them. Wedge play is an art; make no mistake. Being confident with a wedge in your hand literally changes the game. If you can get to a point where you hit wedges inside 20 feet every time, you can get up and down from 120 yards without any issue. Having that confidence and that game opens up the course for you. It changes everything.
A great example of this is playing in a tournament. You hit a bad shot into the trees, you go into the trees and find the ball, but you have no shot to the green. Well, I'll just hit it to 100 yards and then get up and down from there for my par.
You're Swinging Too Hard!
If you talk to any professional, I mean any pro player, you ask them what their stock yardages with wedges are, they will tell you, "Well, I never hit a wedge with a full swing, but I would bet I hit…." Then they tell you what their stock yardages might be, but they never take a full swing with a wedge in hand. Why is that? Well first, wedges spin a lot. The more spin you put on it, the less control you have when it hits the green's surface. A wedge is used to hit a very distinct target that you want doing the same thing in the air. Take a full swing, and a lot can happen to mess you up. This is where most amatuers have issues. They take a full swing, and the ball might ride up the face and ends up way short. Or they might take a full swing, catch it perfectly, and then back it up off the green. If you are taking a full swing with a wedge, you are going to have these problems. That is why pros rarely hit a full wedge. They don't want all that backspin. They only want some. Situations may come up where they need to hit a full wedge, and they might, but usually a ¾ wedge is a way better option than taking a full swing with that wedge. Go to the range, figure out how far you hit a ¾ swing with each wedge and even your 9 iron, and you should use those distances for your wedges. You will hit them way more consistently, and control the flight much better!
How high do you hit your wedges? The proper flight for a wedge is low. This is another reason you should take ¾ or less swings with your wedges; it flights them down. You want a low wedge, so the wind doesn't mess with it. These are the shots that need to be exact, so you want to hit them low with a lot of spin to start throwing darts. If you find you hit your wedges too high, you are probably letting your clubhead get ahead of your hands. This will cause you to slide under the ball and send it too high and short. This allows the wind to play with your ball much more as well. It is inconsistent contact. Instead, focus on keeping your hands in front of your club head as much as possible, creating that forward shaft lean at impact. A great way to do this is to practice your sequencing. Take slow swings, focusing on the exact order you should move in your downswings. Be very specific in what parts of your body fire when.
Distance control is the next key to the art of wedges. I would say it's the paint, while the wedges are the actual brushes. Being able to control how far you are hitting it is key to hitting it close. You aren't always going to have perfect yardage into the pin, so you have to improvise from there. It would be best if you learned how to hit balls to the yardage given on the course. You have 112 to the pin. How do you hit it close? Walk through this exercise with me. You have 112 to the pin, the wind is going right to left, and the pin is slightly uphill. What are you going to hit into this pin? What club, what shot shape, what feel are you looking for? For me, I am going to hit 50-degree. It's slightly uphill, so it probably plays closer to 115, depending on how high you hit it. The higher you hit it, the less slope plays a part. So I am going to fly a 50-degree lower, with a slight fade. I'm trying to get it to play precisely 112 up that hill. Hit my 60% swing with my 50 and throw a dart on that pin.
Now, let's change the exercise. There is a bunker short, the pin is tucked, and I need a birdie. There is no good miss long. 50-degree is out. Now I am going to hit a 90% 54 degree to try and hit it a little higher to throw it over the bunker. Thinking about these problems and how you would approach them is a great way to understand your game better. Think about the course you play a lot, your home course, the more brutal wedge shots out there and the distance, and how you will hit that shot next time you have it.
CTRL Swing Master Training Aid
The CTRL swing master training aid is one of the best ways to laser in your wedges. Set different models for each wedge and each swing you might take with a wedge. This will get you consistently hitting your shots with those swings. Then all you need to do is understand how far each swing with those wedges goes. Once you have those models dialed in and you can hit top-level consistency with each model, improvising for yardage not on your set yardages will become much easier. Now you have a baseline to pull from and change instead of guessing what yardage will come out.
This is the best drill to use with your wedges. You may need to hit on a simulator or somehow have exact yardages marked. But you are going to set a randomizer on your phone and set it to give a random number between whatever yardages you are working on; then you try to hit your wedge that exact yardage. Do this as a standard practice method, and you will hit your numbers a lot easier when you get on the course. You know exactly what you need to hit to touch that distance.
Most amateur players don't hit their wedges properly. Don't be that person. Go work with your wedges. You should spend most of the time on the range with a wedge in your hand. All your work with wedges will translate to the other clubs, and wedges are better for your game. Use the swing master to drill consistent contact and launch from your wedges.