Hero World Challenge

Albany


Instruction

Best Young Teachers

How to embrace the loft and wedge it super close from the rough and tight lies

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KATIE DETLEFSEN DAHL, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, is director of instruction at West Bay Club in Estero, Fla. Photographs by Jensen Larson

Jensen Larson / @jensenlarson

Most golfers are intimidated by their lofted wedges, even though they can be a useful tool around the greens. Although most everyone would prefer to bump the ball along the ground with a pitching wedge or putter, sometimes that’s not a viable option—such as when you have to carry a bunker or the green is protected by water or heavy rough. In these situations, you need to pull your sand or lob wedge out and execute the higher-lofted play. With some simple setup adjustments and swing cues, you can learn to be confident with your lofted wedges from any lie. I’m referring to the same thick, grabby grass and tightly cut fairway lies that drive even the most experienced golfers crazy. Here’s how to drop and stop it close from both lies and become a much better finisher inside 40 yards. —With Dave Allen

Rough lie: Center your hands

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Jensen Larson / @jensenlarson

When the ball settles in the tall grass, you need a sharper angle of approach to minimize the grass between the ball and clubface. You’ll also need to open the face, which creates more spin so that the ball travels higher, lands softer and doesn’t roll out so far. Start with your feet close together, stance slightly open and the ball positioned just back of center (above left). Then, keeping your hands relatively centered, hinge the clubhead up (top photo) and slide it under the ball with some zip, getting down to the roots of the grass. A big key is the finish: The face should remain open and point to the sky (above right) long enough so that you can balance a stack of pennies on it.

Tight lie: Swing thigh to thigh

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Jensen Larson / @jensenlarson

Off shorter grass, use a shallower angle of approach. Take a narrow stance and grip down a few inches, placing the shaft in a more upright position. The ball should be a little back of center. This setup discourages flicking the wrists and keeps the club from digging. From here, swing your hands from thigh to thigh (above), maintaining the angles in both wrists on the backswing and through impact. Keep the clubhead low to the ground on both sides of the motion as you sweep the grass with some assertiveness. To groove this motion, place two tees in the ground six inches on either side of the ball and angled away from it. As you swing back and through, clip both tees (below). Use this simple technique, and you’ll get the ball to grab and stop quickly—right next to the hole.

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Jensen Larson / @jensenlarson