With help from 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker, use these five keys to help you hit more consistent wedge shots
#1: Never slice across the ball at impact with your wedges
I really changed the way I go at short shots around the green a couple of years ago, especially out of sand. I used to really ‘slice’ at my pitches and the ball would come out lower with a lot of left-to-right spin. Now, I come from in-to-out (the clubhead travelling to the right of the target through the impact zone) and release the club more, which helps the ball to go higher, land softer and roll out straighter towards the hole.
#2: Vertical shaft at impact from bunkers
In the bunker, my upper body stays forward toward the hole and I stay tall through the shot. The shaft comes back to vertical at impact so the bounce on the sole of the clubhead is exposed and I maintain as much loft as possible. If the shaft leans forward the club will dig into the sand, which is not what you want. The shot I holed from the bunker in the nal round when I won the 2016 USPGA at Baltusrol is a perfect example of what I was trying to execute. It’s a great action to replicate if you can nd a video of it.
#3: Get really good with one of your wedges
I use my lob wedge for most other short shots around the green. I learned this from my dad, with the idea being it’s easier to get really good with one club than with four. Butch Harmon hasn’t tried to change me because I’ve got good at using my 60° wedge, but he was the one who taught me to swing through the target more and not slice across the ball so much. I know that a lot of amateurs don’t carry a lob wedge so it might be easier for you to get really good with a gap or sand wedge between 52°-56°.
#4: Keep the swing 4 simple and repetitive
I try not to manipulate the club too much when I’m chipping and pitching. It’s a motion that’s similar to a putt and I often nish with the clubhead higher or lower. If I want to hit it higher or lower I’ll just adjust my ball position or hinge my wrists slightly. The further forward in the stance and the more wrist hinge I have, the higher it will go. Conversely, moving it back or employing less wrist hinge in the swing will make it go lower.
#5: How to flop it as a 5 last resort
Since it’s a high-risk shot, most amateur or club golfers should only really consider the op shot if it’s the only available option. I had to hit one to get up-and- down on the 18th at Baltusrol. It came out perfectly and rolled to three feet.
I stand square to my target with the clubface wide open and focus on sliding the bounce of the wedge under the ball, using my wrists to let the clubhead pass my hands through impact and continue towards the target.