Although I probably haven’t made it clear yet…I ALWAYS look to Phil for inspiration on how to use a wedge and stick it close.
There was a time when I carried a 64* wedge in my bag, waaaayyyyy back in the day when I first starting playing golf at 18 years old. Phil was really getting the wins under his belt at that point, and that’s when the Majors started coming for him. I watched week in and week out wondering how he was able to do so much magic with a wedge. I found the cheapest wedge I could buy that was 64* and started practicing with it to see if I could do what Phil was doing.
These days, I don’t carry anything beyond the 60* wedge. I started to take that Seve mentality that anything beyond a sandwedge was not needed if you knew how to open the face and play the shots. I have worked hard but realized that the 54* sandwedge I carry was not enough, even with the face open, the ball forward and lofting it as high in the air as I was capable of. Sometimes the greens are just too quick, or the lie almost necessitates that I use something with a little more loft. I also find myself in some really strange predicaments on the course and the 60* is the wedge that seems to be able to dig me out of most of them.
Now with that said, I have really been digging in to practicing my wedges and learning how to control the spin. I prefer to play mid-to-high spin shots because I know my miss is short, so why not just play long and spin it back? (I’ve now got a Suaoki Rangefinder in my bag and my hope is that I’ll be able to train my eyes a little better to see distance and fix that fault.)
My older dog, who sadly passed in December, was not much for playing with tennis balls. He liked to chase a laser pointer, which worked for me because I could let him run off in the distance, hit a wedge shot to where he was standing before he turned around and ran back, then walk to the ball with him still chasing the laser and repeat. The dog we adopted in July last year LIVES for the tennis ball, which means that I now take three or four out in the back yard with us when we go outside and I hit high spin flop shots all over the yard for her to chase. The foster dog is learning too, although my suspicion is that he too will not be a bad tennis ball guy.
What I’ve learned from hitting these wedge shots is as follows:
Short swing with the proper coil can still mean good distance and high spin
Chipping is definitely a practice, much like medicine or Yoga. If you don’t practice, you will suck at it.
Opening the face can be the scariest thing imaginable if you aren’t paying attention to the fundamentals.**
**(For reference, I actually carry a PW- 46*, W -50*, SW – 54* and LW -60* but I practice in the yard with an old Cleveland RTX 2.0 – 58* wedge. That thing shows no mercy if you mishit with the face open so it almost forces me to work harder on ball position and hitting the ball correctly)
I must say that the Winter is taking much longer to leave that it usually does. I have gotten to play exactly one round of golf so far this year, and that is surprising in North Carolina. The day I did play, it was a high of 78*F and it was pretty much a perfect day to get out. I have hope that as long as the temperature is above 55* and the rain doesn’t show up, I can get out. We did just suffer through something like nine or ten straight days of rain. So here’s hoping that the weather breaks already and I can go back to playing more often.