This little shot drives amateurs mad: 30 yards, over a bunker, can’t be short, can’t be long. Basically, you have to step up and hit a good shot, or you’re looking at a big number. Given the memories of similar shots you probably have rattling around in your brain, it’s good to have a plan. For starters, take your most lofted wedge, play the ball about middle in your stance, and set a little more weight on your front foot. Then make about a half backswing, letting your wrists hinge but keeping your weight on that front foot. From there, hit down and through the ball, accelerating to the finish. Remember, the big thing is to get over the bunker. Don’t baby it. If you pressed me for one key to hitting this shot, I’d say, “Commit to the hit.” I see amateurs quitting at impact, afraid they’re going to launch the ball over the green, so they dump it right in the sand. Try to create a smooth tempo back and through, with a positive strike at impact.
The most common fault I see on wedge shots is swinging off the back foot, trying to help the ball up. Here’s a cue to get your weight moving forward: As you start down, kick your back knee toward the target. This will shift your weight left and get your body turning through. You’ll learn you can hit down and still produce plenty of loft.
Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.