My Golf Instructor

How to Dial Down Your Wedges
Taking a Few Yards Off of Your Full Swing

Gap Wedges to the Rescue...Sometimes
Learn how to take a few yards off a full wedge.Dial it Down

Thank God for the gap wedge right? I mean how often do you get caught in no man's land under a full swing with your pitching wedge? For many of us it's a lot and dialing down on a full swing is not something most players are comfortable doing. In fact, some golfers fear it enough that they intentionally leave their approach shots outside of 100 yards so they don't have to try hitting a partial wedge. When this is the case a gap wedge can be man's best friend. Depending on the manufacturer they may be called gap wedges, approach wedges or utility wedges, but they are all pretty much designed the same. The loft on the gap wedge will usually be 50 or 52 degrees which helps a lot of players fill that 20-30 yard gap between their pitching wedge and their sand wedge. Since club manufacturers starting amping clubs up so players feel they hit the ball longer, the loft on a pitching wedge has gone down. Where some used to be 48 degrees of loft, they are often now only 45 increasing the gap between the sand wedge.

Knowing How to Take a Little Distance Off is a Must

What if you don't have a gap wedge though? Or what if you are within your gap wedge distance? No matter the reason, you have to know how to hit a partial wedge. When learning how to do this please understand that there are several options or steps that you can take to help take a few yards off your swing. Even more so, please understand that it can be a combination of changes that you can make and in the long run it's up to you to practice and experiment so that you know what works best for you.

  • Choke Down - The first and most obvious option is to choke down on the club a 1/2 inch or inch depending on how much you need to take off. The one thing you do need to be aware of if you go with this option is that the ball comes out lower. A lower trajectory can obviously be a factor hitting into greens. By choking up the shaft stiffens a bit and your hands are more likely to stay ahead of the clubhead delofting it through impact.
  • 3/4 Swing - The next option is to make a 3/4 length swing. This is easier said than done as a lot of players don't have a good feel for where their hands and clubface are during the swing. It's definitely doable and will just take a lot of practice in front of a mirror swinging up to only chest or shoulder high and stopping so you can get a good feel for it along with a good visual from the mirror.
  • Slow Your Rate of Rotation - The faster we rotate, the more clubhead speed we will generate and the further the ball will go. It makes sense if we want to take a few yards off of a club that we need to slow things down. The tendency for a lot of people when trying to slow down a bit is to actually do the opposite. Because we don't feel comfortable or trust what we are doing, we actually get quick or jump at the ball. occasionally though, instead of jumping at it, we will decelerate if we are trying to hit it too easy. You should therefore focus on committing to the shot and getting yourself into a full finish. It is super important when trying to slow things down to smooth out the transition between the backswing and the downswing. If we think smooth we can keep our rate of rotation in check.

The Situation:

You are trying to figure out how to comfortably take a few yards off of a full swing.

The Solution:

As our guest instructor Gideon Traub PGA Professional suggested, try the following steps to make taking a few yards off your wedge shots less awkward:

1) Choke down a bit on the club.
2) Swing easier and control your rate of rotation.
3) Make a smooth transition.
4) Make a 3/4 length swing.
5) Try to hit solid rather than hard.
5) Make sure to get to a full finish.

Remember you may need to only make one of these changes to decrease your yardage, but you may also need a combination of a few of them to get it perfect. In the long run the only way you will know is through practice and experimentation. What works for one person may not work for another.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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