One shot that amateurs really fear is the half-wedge. They don't feel confident taking something off a full-speed swing, and their results are inconsistent. What's the secret to making solid contact and controlling distance? It starts with the right setup.
Get into an open stance, with your lower body aligned left of your target, but keep your shoulders square. Also, favor your left foot with your weight (and keep it there when you swing). This setup—and the smaller weight transfer it promotes—helps reduce the length of your swing and the distance of the shot. If you need to hit the ball farther, just swing a little longer from this same setup. Even a modest amount of practice with this method will take the fear out of hitting the half-wedge.
With today's wedges, you can choose from many lofts. The club you need the most is the one that's best around the green for hitting the ball high and the right distance. I carry only two wedges, but Phil Mickelson carries four and sometimes five. You need to experiment to find the right combination for your course.
*Tom Watson, a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, is on Twitter @TomWatsonPGA