Golf Digest Logo short game

Skim away your fears and learn to adjust your approach to wedge it closer off tight lies

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KEVIN SPRECHER, a Golf Digest Best Teacher in New York, is the director of instruction at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor. Photographs by James Farrell

Some of you might not see short grass as your friend. You’d much rather have a little cushion under your ball. Why do these tight lies unnerve so many of you? First, as with any closely mown lie, there’s a tendency to want to add loft to help get the ball in the air, which causes the clubhead to bottom out too soon. Second, it’s easy to get tentative and want to slow down through impact, which also brings the fat shot into play. To stop chunking, you have to adjust your approach and think about hitting the ball lower, not higher. You also can’t be afraid to hit the shot with a little speed, which requires a shallower angle of attack. Here’s how to do all of these things and become more efficient off tight lies. —With Dave Allen

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The easiest way to bring the trajectory down is to choose a less-lofted club, such as a gap or pitching wedge. You can always grip down on the handle an inch or two to take some distance off. Set the clubface slightly open and play the ball one to two inches forward of center at address, like you would an iron. Your weight should lean slightly forward. These adjustments will help you use the sole of the club more effectively so that the club is less likely to dig.

As you start your backswing, take the club away slightly to the inside with very little wrist hinge (above, left). This produces a flatter, more U-shape backswing plane and takes some speed off your swing, creating a lower launch angle. Imagine you’re swinging a fairway wood instead of a wedge. It will encourage you to swing the club more around your body (above, right) and help you sweep the ball off the turf. Make sure to rotate your body through the shot with some pace. Do not slow down. If you want more spin and grab, picture the ball traveling through the lowest window of your house about 10 yards in front of you. Increase the speed of your body rotation and return the clubhead to the ball with a slightly forward-leaning shaft.

DRILL: CASH IN YOUR WEDGES

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How the clubhead interacts with the turf is critical to hitting the ball solid off tight lies. The club needs to be skimming the turf. You don’t want the leading edge coming in too sharp, digging and carving out a huge divot. To get you comfortable with how to shallow your angle of attack, imagine your ball is sitting on a large poker chip (above, left). You can also use a half dollar or quarter. Hit some wedge shots trying to sweep the ball off the chip without making it fly or laying a mass of sod over it. If you can consistently leave the chip in place you’re going to be money from tight lies and control your distance a lot better.