Back to Basics

August 28, 2014

Hit the ball as far as you can, then wedge it as close as you can. That combination has proved very effective for tour pros and is one that, with a little practice, you can improve, too. Nothing gives you a better boost than driving the ball in good position, and wedge play is critical to making birdies. For help, we enlisted Charlie King, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America.

Our model is Therese Koelbaek, a Denmark native and Symetra Tour player. Here are King's keys to the setup, backswing and finish with the driver and wedge.



When you swing up on the ball with a driver, you'll have a better launch angle and lower spin. To promote that move, get your shoulders and upper body tilted slightly back at address. Also, you're going to be swinging faster than you do with any other club, so take a wide stance for extra stability.


With wedges, solid contact trumps everything, because pure shots are predictable shots. You're not worried about creating power here, so narrow your stance and get your spine more centered. All that will help you compress the ball.



The goal here is to create a spring-like effect as you coil your body in the backswing. Turn against the resistance you're creating with your right leg. If you're flip-flopping around because you're not winding against anything, you'll lose a lot of power.


It's the same principle as the driver, just smaller. You're still turning against that right leg, but you're going for control over speed. You don't want to turn your shoulders as much, and your hips stay relatively square as you get to the top.




Good players match their finish position to the length of their backswing. Lifting your arms into a big follow-through when it's unnatural makes it difficult to consistently catch the ball solid. The most important thing on these short wedges is to stay balanced and relaxed all the way through the shot.

Charlie King is the director of instruction at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.