Now that you are driving the ball farther and straighter, it is time to get more precise with your wedges. Controlling distance with your wedges is paramount to getting the ball closer to the hole. Wedges, for me, are less about lateral control and far more about distance. Based on the information in DECADE golf, the average dispersion for a PGA tour player is about 10% of the distance of the shot. If we are looking at shots from under 100 yards, there won't be as big a miss from left to right. In this area, to get the ball close we have to be more precise with our distance control. I believe players struggle the most in this area because it is no longer a full swing and they do not have a system to control distance.
Distance is a math equation that has 3 main factors: Ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. To control these, the first thing we need to do is to be able to control the clubhead speed and make consistent contact. To create a baseline for distance I want the ball position to be consistent and where the hands are located on the grip to be consistent. If you are changing ball position, you will affect the loft of the club at impact. If you change the launch angle you then change the distance of the shot. When doing your practice, always make sure you have an alignment stick between your feet to keep ball position consistent.
To get a starting point I want you to think of two key parts of the swing: the length of the backswing and the speed at which you come through the shot, this will create your wedge system. When I’m working distances with a student, I do not get them to hit specific distances to start. Instead of trying to hit numbers I want students to make specific swings and see how far those shots go. It is not important to me if your "half backswing" actually goes halfway back. It is only important to me that you can recreate the feeling.
As you can see in the Trackman image I had very specific swing feels for 2 different wedges. In running through this exercise, I used my 58-degree first. I went 1/2 back swing-smooth, then 1/2 backswing-aggressive followed by 3/4 backswing-smooth and 3/4 backswing-aggressive. By feeling a swing length and speed I was able to create different clubhead speeds that produced different carry distances. I then repeated the exercise with my 54-degree wedge.
To practice this, ideally you would have a launch monitor of some kind to chart speed and carry distance. What you are looking for is consistency in the clubhead speed and the carry yardage. If you can recreate the feel and deliver the same speed with each swing, you can start to control your distances. If you do not have a launch monitor, you can still do the drill and pay close attention to where the balls land. If you are consistent in your control, the balls should land similar distances when making one swing. Use a range finder to laser targets and try and get as close as you can to figuring out the distance each swing produces.
If you carry 3 or 4 wedges and have 4 swings with each, you will have a lot of different numbers that you can hit. There are plenty of variations to add or take off a couple of yards by changing ball position or grip location on the handle. However, in the beginning, I would see how good you can get at 4 swings with every wedge you have. This will create a baseline for you wedge system and start seeing you hit wedges much closer to the hole.
As always, I hope you enjoy the blog and emails. Feel free to share, and I always appreciate any feedback.