September 27, 2016

Jimmy Walker Likes The 60

Why I used my lob wedge to win my first major—and why I always do
Jimmy-Walker-2016-PGA-Championship.jpg
2016 Getty Images

On the final hole of the PGA Championship in July, I left myself in the one place I didn't want to be: short-sided in deep rough with a bunker between me and the flag. But there was never a question which club I was going to use from there to set up a two-putt and the biggest win of my life: my 60-degree lob wedge.

I'm unconventional in that I use my lob wedge for every short-game shot. I learned this from my dad, who was a scratch player. Dad's thinking was: Why try to get good at chipping with four or five different clubs when it's easier to master just one? My coach, Butch Harmon, says I'm the only tour player he's ever taught who uses this approach, but Butch hasn't tried to change me because I've gotten good at leaning on my 60. His only advice has been to swing through to the target more, instead of cutting across the ball.

On that last hole at Baltusrol, I hit a flop shot (above). My keys are to stand square, lay the face open, then think hands and speed as I slide the bounce of the wedge under the ball, using a wristy action to let the clubhead pass my hands. If I'm not so concerned with spin and just want the ball to land soft, I'll deaden the shot by hitting the ball toward the toe.

If I want a low runner, or a shot where another player might use an 8- or 9-iron, I set up aimed a hair right of my target and hit what feels like a baby hook. I move my hands forward at address to shut the clubface, then swing at the ball from the inside, keeping my wrist angle set and firm through the shot.

For everything in between—the basic chips and pitches—I hardly manipulate the club. I'm just presenting the wedge's loft at impact by using a simple motion similar to a putt. To hit it higher or lower, I adjust ball position or add a hint of wrist through impact.

I like to be creative on every greenside shot. Making the process about club choice would probably feel too mechanical to me. Just give me my 60. —With Max Adler

Jimmy Walker has six PGA Tour wins and this season ranks 22nd in scrambling from 10 to 20 yards off the green.


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