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Focus on footwork to dial in these shots and master the half-wedge

August 23, 2022
Chema Sanchez in Orlando, FL on Wednesday December 8, 2021. (Photo by J.D. Cuban)

J.D. Cuban

You're 47 yards away from the green on a par 5 with a real chance for birdie. What happens next? If you’re like a lot of amateurs I see, too often you don’t commit to these half-wedge shots and slow down your swing into the ball in fear of hitting it too far. Or you don’t shift your weight—making an arms-only swing—and you fat or thin the shot. There goes that birdie opportunity.

If you need a little help with this part of your game, try this drill: Put two alignment rods on the ground right in front of your feet on your target line and another between your feet—the rods forming the letter “t”. Now set up to hit a half-wedge shot with the perpendicular rod in line with your ball. Your stance should be narrower than if it were a full swing, and you should favor your front foot a little more than your trail foot.

Now it’s time for the drill: I want you to take the club back just past the point where your lead arm is parallel to the ground. Then swing down into the ball. As you make contact, step up and over the perpendicular alignment rod (below) so that your trail foot, knee and hip finish on the target side.

This drill will really help you hit the ball flush while lowering its trajectory into the green, which is big for accuracy. What you should feel is that your body, arms and club move together in the through-swing, and you’re fully committed to the shot. No more bail-out swings. —With Ron Kaspriske



J.D. Cuban

What kind of success do regular golfers have with half-wedges? Arccos Golf’s data analyst, Lou Stagner, reports that they hit these shots about as close as a tour pro hits it from 150 to 175 yards (29-feet average).



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CHEMA SÁNCHEZ teaches at the Golfzon Leadbetter Academy at the Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla.