Play Your BestMay 17, 2016

Learn To Pitch With Your Sand Wedge

Develop that tour-pro touch around the greens
Phil-Mickelson-chipping-TPC-Stadium-course-PGA-West.jpg
2016 Getty Images

If you want to be a better player, copy what better players do. When tour pros need to hit a greenside shot that stops quickly, they almost always grab a club with a lot of loft. They make the ball stop by hitting it high more than trying to spin it.

You might be nervous about the idea of using your sand wedge outside the bunkers, but it's easier than you probably think. The sand wedge is the heaviest club in your bag, so it can power through thick lies. Provided you get the heavy flange on the back of the club involved from the start, it'll glide through the grass instead of getting stuck.

You need to do two things to get comfortable with using a more-lofted club. First, be willing to open the face at least a little at address. This brings the club's flange into play, setting up that gliding action through impact. You don't want the leading edge to dig.

The second thing is, you have to commit to making a bigger swing than you're used to, assuming you've been chipping and pitching with a less-lofted club. With a sand wedge, the harder you swing, the higher the ball goes, and the more quickly it stops. That means you need to change your aim to a spot closer to your target. Give it a try.


HOW MANY WEDGES DO YOU NEED?
Tour players like Phil Mickelson (above) often carry wedges with extreme loft, like a 64-degree. That makes sense if you have a killer short game and are playing courses with pins tucked near the edges of greens. But most amateurs are better off carrying a 56-degree as their most-lofted club and adding a hybrid or fairway wood to their set. Those clubs will solve more problems.

Hank Haney is based at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch, Lewisville, Texas. To get fixed in Golf Digest, send Hank your swing on Twitter: @HankHaney.


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