In the scoring zone
How to practice the finesse shots and perfect your wedge play
If you struggle to execute wedge shots that require less than a full swing, chances are you need to work on better “low-point control,” meaning where the club bottoms out. The club should strike the ball before it makes contact with the turf. Unfortunately, if you’re not maintaining the radius to your swing arc, the wedge likely will strike the ground first and you’ll chunk the shot, or you’ll catch the ball on the upswing with the leading edge and thin it.
The longer you’re able to keep the clubhead traveling in a circle equidistant from your sternum, the easier it is to control the low point of the swing. When you keep the radius the same, you also expose the club’s trailing edge to the ground through impact. That makes it easier to hit a decent shot even when your swing bottom isn’t perfect because the club will glide along the turf instead of digging into it.
Here’s a drill to groove a consistent radius. Wrap a resistance band around the back of your neck securing the loose ends with both hands as you grip your wedge. Hit several practice shots maintaining tension in the band throughout the motion. To ensure the tightness stays constant, you must pivot your body back and through and keep your hands and arms less active. If the resistance changes, that means you’re forcing the club down with your arms, extending the circle and the radius. That’s typically why you chunk it.
Try this drill—less hands and arms, more body—to help dial in those difficult finesse wedges. It also works great for chipping.
—WITH DAVE ALLEN
RYAN HAGER, one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers in America, teaches at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J.