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How to hit the low spinner



One of the most frequent questions I get about the short game is how to hit the low spinner — you know, the one that hits the green, takes one big hop and stops. It is the only shot amateur golfers seem to want as much as a 300-yard drive, and there’s good news. Unlike a 300-yard drive, the low spinner is a shot that most golfers can actually learn to hit.

To pull it off, you need to know how to hit the shot and why it flies the way it does. To show you both, I’ve used a tool called BodiTrak’s Balance System that will show you where my weight and center of pressure was during the swing. I’ve also used my Trackman, so you’ll be able to see what the ball was doing as well.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 3.56.01 PM

As you might be able to see in the image above (click to enlarge it if you can’t), I’ve altered my normal set up for this shot.

  1. The ball is a touch back in my stance.
  2. My spine is more centered at address, and it’s not as tilted to the right as it would be for a normal shot.
  3. My hands are a touch more forward than normal, but not so much that would make the shoulders point too far to the left.
  4. My weight is 55 percent on my front foot.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.10.37 PM

From here I make my normal backswing. Please note a few things at the top.

  1. The arms are around chest-to-shoulder high. This ensures that I will move from “short to long” and accelerate through the ball.
  2. My head has stayed centered to the top (look at the photos on the wall behind me). I don’t want it to move forward or backward in route to the top because that can cause a faulty pivot motion on the way down.
  3. The rear leg knee has straightened a touch, which has caused the forward leg to bend toward the ball. This helps the weight stay on the forward foot during the backswing.
  4. Most of my weight (77 percent) is on the front portion of my left foot at the top, not the heel. As you can see above, 67 percent of the weight on my front foot is on my toe while 33 percent is on my heel. If you are too “heel heavy” at this point, you will have a tendency to swing too much out to in on the downswing.

Here’s how you should transition into impact to hit the low spinner.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.11.24 PM
Note: I have left the double frame in the photo on purpose so you can see what the shaft lean was before impact as well as just past impact.

  1. My head has not moved backward through impact — if anything it has slid a touch forward. Be careful with head motion, as this side-to-side motion can alter your low point at impact.
  2. My head, sternum, zipper and hands are all “stacked” at impact. This shows that everything has and is moving together through the downswing.
  3. Before impact, the shaft is lagging behind the hands and through impact it is leaning forward. That delofts the club as it hits the ball.
  4. As my left leg begins to straighten through impact, the weight is moved back toward the heel of my front foot — 61 percent heel vs. 39 percent toe. Your weight will naturally do this, but if you keep moving into your left toe through impact you will tend to have legs that are too “soft” through impact and that will alter your low point.
  5. I have a touch more weight on my left foot at impact (84 percent) than I did at the top (77 percent). This is due to my head moving slightly toward the target on the downswing.

Let’s examine the Trackman data for the shot above so we can see how our different pivot motion alters our impact relationships.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.12.16 PM

Note: For example purposes I really flighted this wedge down so you could understand how it’s done — thus the extreme numbers.

  1. When hitting these shots it’s your goal to NOT hit downward too much. You just want to “bruise” the turf as my buddy Andrew Rice says. Just hitting down more will NOT increase spin.
  2. My dynamic loft is 32.1 degrees at impact, showing that I have delofted my wedge from its normal loft of 54 degrees. Some of this is due to me hitting the shot low on the face, which through vertical gear effect lowers my loft even more at impact.
  3. The ball is launching at a very low 19.2 degrees, creating the desired low, penetrating ball flight. It’s height of 21.4 feet. The normal launch for a 54 degree wedge is somewhere around 28 degrees with a height of 75 feet for the average amateur.
  4. On this shot, which carried 60 yards, we have created a spin rate of 8187 rpm. That’s enough to stop this ball after a hop or so on the green.

The first time you do this, it probably won’t work like you want it to. Why? It’s all about your pivot and its control of your dynamic loft during impact. If you have a faulty pivot, as we’ll see below, your Trackman numbers will suffer.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.13.02 PM

Here is the correct top position we described earlier. We saw that the key to spin was to keep the weight forward so the low point was in the right place — then you can deloft the club without hitting the ball fat. Below is what I usually see when people struggle with this shot.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.13.31 PM

  1. The head has fallen backward as the weight moves into the rear foot from the top. I had 77 percent of my weight on my forward foot at the top, but now 54 percent of my weight has gone to my rear foot.
  2. When your weight moves from the forward foot to the rear foot, it will tend to move your low point backward as well.
  3. The right shoulder has moved too much “downward” as the weight fell back, moving the low point even farther backward.
  4. So what’s the net effect of this faulty pivot? In an effort not to hit behind the ball, the players will “throw” their hands into impact and as in the double-frame screenshot a few photos above. You can see the shaft pass the hands, which adds loft raising the ball’s launch and reduces spin.

Let’s look at the Trackman numbers on this swing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.14.24 PM

  1. Together the faulty pivot and the throwing of the hands caused the dynamic loft to go up from our earlier (extreme) example of 32.1 degrees to 46 degrees.
  2. With Angle of Attack being constant between the two shots, a dynamic loft of 46 degrees will raise the launch angle from 19.2 degrees to 35.2 degrees giving us a higher ball flight at almost 40 feet.
  3. When your dynamic loft goes up at a certain point the ball will begin to “slip” up the face on your wedge shots. This loss of friction lowers your spin rate as you can see above.
  4. This loss of dynamic loft and friction will hamper your ability to flight the ball down with spin. This shot above will come out higher and tend to roll out more.
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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email:



  1. Dan H

    Jan 12, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Here’s a cool video with a study on it comparing a new wedge to a one year old wedge using Trackman numbers:

  2. manlong

    Sep 15, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Nice article, now I understand why I can do the check, hop and stop….thanks Tom. I do not have all the equipment’s necessary for this test so I do not know how I can do this without learning all the techniques. At least I can direct my flight buddies to this article to understand it more.

  3. Pingback: BodiTrak Sports | Tom Stickney & GolfWRX: How to hit the low spinner

  4. Mike

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Please explain how “hitting the shot low on the face which through vertical gear effect lowers the loft even more”
    E.G. than hitting it in the middle of the face.


    “My dynamic loft is 32.1 degrees at impact, showing that I have delofted my wedge from its normal loft of 54 degrees. Some of this is due to me hitting the shot low on the face, which through vertical gear effect lowers my loft even more at impact.”

  5. Neil Murphy

    Dec 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Great article Tom. I have the same setup using a Boditrak mat and TM. More articles correlating the two would be really good.
    Can I just clarify something? Did you use the bounce of the club or the leading edge when hitting the low spinning wedge?

  6. KK

    Dec 13, 2014 at 1:45 am

    I have to agree with the others, a short summary paragraph at the end would have been nice.

    • Ty

      Dec 14, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Guys, cmon…

      Why are you on this forum? TO learn and get better. Typically people on this site are taking a bigger interest in the game of golf and everything that goes along with it. So why are we never satisfied with FREE write-ups that people take a lot of time to put up. This was a well written article that if you take the time to read it, will appreciate. Like the shot he is describing if you don’t take the time and want the quick fix, you might pull it off now and again….orrrrr you could read, re-read, and re-read again if necessary to actually understand all that goes behind making this shot possible so that in your practice (this is required) you can consistenly pull this shot off and add it to your bag of tricks.

      In summary, read the whole articles, practice, and enjoy your new skills.

      Thanks Tom!

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Next time.

  7. Adam

    Dec 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Look all you haters. Tom took the time to write a piece on how to skip/check a shot using science and tools to collect
    and show that data. If you don’t like or understand what he said I’m sure he’d be willing to break it down without
    people bashing him.

  8. MarkC

    Dec 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Tom, great article, interesting tool, the BodiTrak’s Balance System. Very insightful data from it. I tried to work on this shot towards the end of last season and now I will focus more on where my weight is. But I also ended up digging the deep trench. Any tips on what I can do to get rid of that digging?

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Marc–try to sweep it a touch more. It’s hard to do while leaning the shaft forward but it’s necessary

  9. Shortgame85

    Dec 10, 2014 at 9:34 am

    This is a great and helpful article, very well written. The funny thing is, I have executed this shot by accident several times. Now, thanks to this excellent explanation, I can practice this shot with deliberation. I can’t wait for it to warm up a little so I can get to work!

  10. Science Nerd

    Dec 10, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Tom, Thanks for the instruction and data to show how certain shots “work.” Question: Someone posted a comment about the first shot appearing to roll out more than the second shot. Do devices like Trackman, Flightscope, et al accurately portray how a golf ball will act when it hits the green? I tend to think not as all of the monitors I have hit on (the ones at golfsmith, golf galaxy) shows tons of roll out on mid irons when I tend to see very little to none on the course in real life. -Doc Todd

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Science– the rollout is based on PGA tour firmness fairways. I only look at the carry, landing angle, and spin.

  11. Nathan

    Dec 10, 2014 at 4:50 am

    I figured how to do this shot repeatably not so long ago.
    New wedge
    New 2015 prov1 ball.
    2 weeks practice total of 10 hours
    Even delicate shots, and all the way to half swing, low and one hop and stop.
    I think it’s the ball dude!

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Nathan. Ball is key.

      • Ben

        Dec 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

        Agreed. Trying to hit this shot with a Top Flight or a Pinacle probably won’t work.

        • tom stickney

          Dec 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

          Ben– if you could spin those back we’d all be impressed! 🙂

  12. Rod

    Dec 10, 2014 at 1:14 am

    I’m sure this is a great article, if I could comprehend it. That’s no disrespect to the author more about myself. As an enthusiastic but unaccomplished weekend golfer I would appreciate more pearls of wisdom about having as solid a game as most leisure golfers can expect. A high number of golfers take up the game in middle to later years and don’t have the physique, coordination, finances, etc but still want to enjoy their golf to a reasonable standard. Breaking 90 for example would be a great target for many. How can we achieve that given all our limitations would be a reasonable starting point.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Rod. It’s a tough game but fun.

    • Ben

      Dec 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Golf is not a game you can get better at without meaningful practice. The pearls of wisdom are no mystery. Take lessons and practice what you’ve been taught on the range.

      Scoring is in your short game. Spend at least %50 of your practice time chipping and putting not just banging balls on the driving range with your driver.

  13. butette

    Dec 9, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    The Trackman pictures look to me like it tells a different story. The second shot has less roll out than the first shot which is supposed to check/spin more.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

      But– the spinner shot was hit extra low to show the difference. Not 100% accurate. Roll out on tm based on PGA tour fairways not greens.

  14. Naru

    Dec 9, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    >Tom, thank you for the excellent article. I’ve been wondering for LONG time how PGA Tour players hit the low approach shot that stops after one hop on the green. It was fascinating when I first saw tour players routinely practice this shot from 45~60 yards off the green during practice rounds.
    **2 Questions**
    1) Is gap wedge (51~54 degrees) the ideal club to hit, producing the most spin rate and keeping low trajectory?
    2) Do you keep the follow through the same length as the backswing, or abbeviated?

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Naru– thx. 54 is usually better. I go short to long.

  15. golfiend

    Dec 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    I think there will be a backlash against trackman among amateurs in the near future. Many things can be learned from ball flight and also how the ball reacts when hitting the green. If you’re flipping and trying to help the ball up, the ball is not going to bounce and check. Learn the technique on how the clubhead hits down on the ball — weight on leading leg/foot, shaft lean with hands in front of clubhead with a flat left wrist. Sounds simple doesn’t it. Not so easy to execute, but keep experimenting until the light bulb turns on.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Golf- tm is only a tool not the dictator

  16. Gus

    Dec 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Lovin the Furyk pic. Dude’s an underrated master of spin and short game

  17. Pingback: The 'Big Hop, Stopper' Shot: How to Hit The Low Spinner | Golf Gear Select

  18. golfwb

    Dec 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Why are you guys complaining?
    It’s a hard shot, lots of factors go into it.
    If y’all continue to complain, I’m sure Tom would have no problem never writing a piece again.
    If you really want to learn how to hit the shot, when his suggestions are “wrong”, how about you actually pay for a lesson.
    I’m younger than most of you posting and I can honestly say, grow up.

  19. Earl

    Dec 9, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Nothing like snark and arrogance from a teaching pro. If you took the time to write the piece, answer them in a professional manner. But then again, no one here is paying you $100 for a lesson.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Earl– everything is inside the article. Just takes time to digest. Some of my articles are deeper than others; I write for all levels. Grow tired of people who want to skim the article and go…this is not one if those pieces. Hence the snarky comment. You are correct. I shouldn’t have reacted that way. Thx

  20. Doug Williams

    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Way over my head, too! Never seen a Trackman and really don’t have an appreciation about spin and what it means. Or, if I were to be exposed to one – I don’t think I have a clue what the data means. I always enjoy your articles, but I guess it’s like when my daughters talk about the latest app for their smartphone – I just can’t relate.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Guys…come on…look at the photos…keep your weight forward so you hit the gound in the correct place and lean the shaft a touch forward at impact without digging a trench. That’s it.

      • WILSON

        Dec 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        then why didn’t you just write that?

      • Jeremy

        Dec 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

        Tom, I’m a busy man, I don’t have time for all your fancy egghead data. Just, please, in 10 words or less, teach me how to win a major. Kthxbye.

        • Tom Stickney

          Dec 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

          Jer- then skip it.

          • Tom Stickney

            Dec 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

            Jer– sorry hit the button…wrong reply! Shoot a really low score! 🙂

  21. cb

    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    love your articles as usual tom. quick question about the weight. is their a drill or tool that a person can use at home or on the range to really feel where the weight is? unfortunately the closest place with a balance board, like the one you’re using, is not really close to me. i know from my past experience with balance boards, that after looking at the info its interesting to see where your weight actually is despite where you thought it was.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Try a slight downhill lie to feel what I’m describing.

  22. Eagle006

    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Got to agree with the above comment, information overload for me I’m afraid. Tom, I enjoy your articles on here, but in this case the Boditrack stuff offers me very little of any practical use and just confuses the issue if anything. As suggested, some simple set up and swing keys to this would have been much better.

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Eagle- how can a tool that shows weight not help you?

    • Jeremy

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      There are no simple fixes. This is an advanced shot. It’s a lot of information and very helpful for those who know how to use it.

      • tom stickney

        Dec 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        jer–thanks…written for the ones who want to know the how and why

  23. nikkyd

    Dec 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Ok tom. Now the gear effect of the clubface actually tilting or de lofting makes absolute sense, but how does a wedge shaft make a difference in this shot? Softer tipped shaft or what? I play 37″ x100s in my wedges and cannot seem to keep the ball down. With the stock s flex shafts i could actually feel the face “folding over” , now my wedges are like rebar. But i guess i like that feel. So long story short, does the shaft flex affect this shot more or less?

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Nik– I would assume yes, but that’s not my expertise.

      • nikkyd

        Dec 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

        Fair enough! Thank you for an honest answer mr. Stickney

        • tom stickney

          Dec 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

          Contact Scott Felix at Felix Clubworks at Spring Creek Ranch in Collierville, Tennessee he’s my go to guy on club stuff- he’ll know

  24. Mikec

    Dec 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Way too much scientific info and detail to consume for the avg weekend player. How about breaking it down in to no more than 4 simple steps, if you were teaching the shot. The info is all in there, but way too long a read. Good for the gear-heads, but how about a conclusion/take-away tips?

    • Tom Stickney

      Dec 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Mike- not for the average player.

    • Derek

      Dec 10, 2014 at 12:08 am

      This and all the other comments like this baffle me.

      You clearly did not read the article.

      You don’t need to be a science expert or trackman genius to understand what Tom is saying. Frankly, I’ve never seen or used either of the machines he mentioned HOWEVER he does very clearly state that to achieve this shot you need to ensure you have a majority of your weight on your LEADING foot while maintaining some shaft lean and not taking too large of a divot – more “brusing” the ground as he describes.

      He also teaches you how to make a manageable backswing to achieve this shot. Morevoer he also mentions that this shot isn’t for the faint of heart.

      If you did not understand it the first time, maybe try re-reading it. This article was actually quite well written. The only missing piece of information was what club he used but he was clearly using some kind of wedge (Gap or PW) based on the distance…

      Try taking some responsibility in the information being provided to you by a person under no obligation to teach you anything.

      Well don Tom.

      • Mikec

        Dec 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        I did read the article.
        I know the shot and hit the shot (used to be a real staple in my bag, got away from me a bit) and am a single digit cap.
        My only point was for me (and I know it’s all choice, “don’t read the article”) is that I like Tom’s stuff and was excited to read about the shot, and then found it a frustrating read as it was like a puzzle to get all the bits out of how to hit the shot. There was no wrap or conclusion/take-away/sum-up of keys to how to hit the shot.As I said, it’s all in there, but it takes a long time to piece together with a lot of charts/a technical data/numbers, that I am not really interested in. That’s all. I have a right to comment about what I thought of the piece. This is why I love WRX, as you would never see an article that detailed in GolfDigest, all I am saying, is for the lesser gear-heads (me), but still proficient players (8 cap), give me a “wrap-up” in layman’s terms.

        • tom stickney

          Dec 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm

          mikec- keep your weight left, lean the shaft forward, bruise the ground, and it will fly lower with more spin. Enjoy

      • tom stickney

        Dec 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        der– thank you sir…at the bottom of the trackman screens in the article it lists the club used…should have mentioned it

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Clement: Best drill for weight shift and clearing hips (bonus on direction too)



This is, by far, one of the most essential drills for your golf swing development. To throw the club well is a liberating experience! Here we catch Munashe up with how important the exercise is not only in the movement pattern but also in the realization that the side vision is viciously trying to get you to make sure you don’t throw the golf club in the wrong direction. Which, in essence, is the wrong direction to start with!

This drill is also a cure for your weight shift problems and clearing your body issues during the swing which makes this an awesome all-around golf swing drill beauty! Stay with us as we take you through, step by step, how this excellent drill of discovery will set you straight; pardon the pun!

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Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes



There’s a saying in golf that, paraphrasing here, it’s the person holding the weapon, not the weapon. Basically, if you hit a bad shot, it’s almost certain that it was your fault, not the fault of the golf club. It has a better design than your swing. And while that truism is often correct, it ain’t necessarily so.

For example, if I were to try to hit one of those long drive drivers, I’d probably mis-hit it so badly that the ball might not be findable. That stick is way too long, stiff, and heavy for me. Similarly, if I were to use one of those senior flex drivers, I’d probably hit it badly, because it would be too floppy for my swing. It’s clear that there are arrows that this Indian can’t shoot well. Maybe a pro could adapt to whatever club you put in his hand, but there’s no reason he would accept less than a perfect fit. And there’s little reason why any amateur ought to accept less than a good fit.

I was never a competitive athlete, although I’m a competitive person. My path led a different direction, and as my medical career reached its mature years, I was introduced to our wonderful and frustrating game.

Being one who hates playing poorly, I immediately sought instruction. After fifteen years, multiple instructors, a wallet full of videos, and a wall full of clubs, I am finally learning how to do one particularly vexing part of the game reasonable well. I can chip! But as you may have guessed, the largest part of this journey has to do with the arrow, not the Indian.

We may immediately dismiss the golf shaft as a significant issue since chipping generally involves a low-speed movement. And as long as the grip is a reasonable fit for the hands, it’s not a big deal either. The rubber meets the road at the clubhead.

Manufacturers have worked hard to get the best ball spin out of the grooves. Their shape is precisely milled, and then smaller grooves and roughness are added to the exact maximum allowed under the rules. Various weighting schemes have been tried, with some success in tailoring wedges to players. And some manufacturers market the “newest” designs to make it impossible to screw up wedge shots. And yet, nothing seemed to solve my yips.

So I went on a mission. I studied all sorts of chipping techniques. Some advocate placing the ball far back to strike a descending blow. Others place it near the center of the stance. The swing must have no wrist hinge. The swing must have a hinge that is held. It should be a short swing. It should be a long swing. The face should be square. The face should be open. There should be a “pop.” There should be no power added.

If you are confused, join my club. So I went on a different mission. I started looking at sole construction. Ever since Gene Sarazen popularized a sole with bounce for use in the sand, manufacturers have been creating massive numbers of “different” sand wedges. They have one thing in common. They are generally all built to 55 or 56-degrees of loft.

The basic design feature of the sand wedge is that the sole extends down and aft from the leading edge at some angle. This generally ranges from 6 to 18-degrees. Its purpose is to allow the wedge to dig into the sand, but not too far. As the club goes down into the sand, the “bounce” pushes it back up.


One problem with having a lot of bounce on the wedge is that it can’t be opened up to allow certain specialty shots or have a higher effective loft. When the player does that, the leading edge lifts, resulting in thin shots. So manufacturers do various things to make the wedge more versatile, typically by removing bounce in the heel area.

At my last count, I have eight 56-degree wedges in my collection. Each one was thought to be a solution to my yips. Yet, until I listened to an interview with Dave Edel, I had almost no real understanding of why I was laying sod over a lot of my chips. Since gardening did not reduce my scores, I had to find another solution.

My first step was to look at the effective loft of a wedge in various ball positions. (Pictures were shot with the butt of the club at the left hip, in a recommended forward lean position. Since the protractor is not exactly lined up with the face, the angles are approximate.)

I had no idea that there was so much forward lean with a simple chip. If I were to use the most extreme rearward position, I would have to have 21-degrees of bounce just to keep the leading edge from digging in at impact. If there were the slightest error in my swing, I would be auditioning for greenskeeper.

My appreciation for the pros who can chip from this position suddenly became immense. For an amateur like me, the complete lack of forgiveness in this technique suddenly removed it from my alleged repertoire.

My next step was to look at bounce. As I commented before, bounce on sand wedges ranges between 6 and 18-degrees. As the drawing above shows, that’s a simple angle measurement. If I were to chip from the forward position, a 6-degree bounce sand wedge would have an effective bounce of 1-degree. That’s only fractionally better than the impossible chip behind my right foot. So I went to my local PGA Superstore to look at wedges with my Maltby Triangle Gauge in hand.

As you can see from the photos, there is a wide variation in wedges. What’s most curious, however, is that this variation is between two designs that are within one degree of the same nominal bounce. Could it be that “bounce is not bounce is not bounce?” Or should I say that “12-degrees is not 12-degrees is not 12-degrees?” If one looks below the name on the gauge, a curious bit of text appears. “Measuring effective bounce on wedges.” Hmmm… What is “effective bounce?”

The Maltby Triangle Gauge allows you to measure three things: leading-edge height, sole tangent point, and leading-edge sharpness. The last is the most obvious. If I’m chipping at the hairy edge of an adequate bounce, a sharp leading edge will dig in more easily than a blunt one. So if I’m using that far back ball position, I’ll need the 1OutPlus for safety, since its leading edge is the bluntest of the blunt. Even in that position, its 11-degree bounce keeps the leading edge an eighth of an inch up.

Wait a minute! How can that be? In the back position, the wedge is at 35-degrees effective loft, and 11-degrees of bounce ought to be 10-degrees less than we need. The difference here is found in combining all three parameters measured by the gauge, and not just the angle of the bounce.

The 1OutPlus is a very wide sole wedge. Its tangent point is a massive 1.7″ back. The leading edge rises .36″ off the ground and is very blunt. In other words, it has every possible design feature to create safety in case the chip from back in the stance isn’t as perfect as it might be. Since a golf ball is 1.68″ in diameter, that’s still less than halfway up to the center of the ball. But if you play the ball forward, this may not be the wedge for you.

Here are the measurements for the eight sand wedges that happen to be in my garage. All are either 56-degrees from the factory or bent to 56-degrees.

A couple of things jump out from this table. The Callaway PM Grind at 13-degrees has a lower leading edge (.26 inches) than the 11-degree Bazooka 1OutPlus (.36 inches). How can a lower bounce have a higher leading edge? Simple geometry suggests that if you want a higher leading edge, you will need a higher bounce angle. But it gets worse. The Wishon WS (wide sole) at 6-degrees (55-degree wedge bent to 56-degrees) has a leading-edge height of .28 inches, higher than the Callaway which has over twice the nominal bounce angle!

One thing is missing from this simple discussion of angles.

If I place one line at 34-degrees above the horizontal (loft is measured from the vertical), and then extend another at some angle below horizontal, the height above ground where the two join depends on how long the lower line is. This means that an 18-degree bounce with a narrow “C” grind will raise the leading edge a little bit. A 6-degree bounce on a wide sole may raise it more because the end of the bounce on the first wedge is so close to the leading edge.


Let’s look at this in the picture. If the red line of the bounce is very short, it doesn’t get far below the black ground line. But if it goes further, it gets lower. This is the difference between narrow and wide soles.

This diagram describes the mathematical description of these relationships.

Our first task is to realize that the angle 0 in this diagram is the complement of the 56-degree loft of the wedge, or 90 – 56 = 34-degrees since loft is measured from vertical, not horizontal. But the angle 0 in the bounce equation is just that, the bounce value. These two angles will now allow us to calculate the theoretical values of various parts of the wedge, and then compare them to our real-world examples.

My PM Grind Callaway wedge has its 3rd groove, the supposed “perfect” impact point, 0.54 inches above the leading edge. This should put it 0.8 inches back from the leading edge, roughly matching the measured 0.82 inches. So far, so good. (I’m using the gauge correctly!)

The 13-degree bounce at 1.14″ calculates out to 0.284″ of leading-edge rise. I measured 0.26″, so Callaway seems to be doing the numbers properly, until I realize that the leading edge is already .45″ back, given a real tangent of .69″. Something is out of whack. Re-doing the math suggests that the real bounce is 20-degrees, 40 min. Hmmm…

Maybe that bounce angle measurement isn’t such a good number to look at. Without digging through all the different wedges (which would make you cross-eyed), we should go back to basics. What is it that we really need?

Most instructors will suggest that striking the ball on about the third groove will give the best results. It will put the ball close to the center of mass (sweet spot) of the wedge and give the best spin action. If my wedge is at an effective 45-degree angle (about my right big toe), it will strike the ball about half-way up to its equator. It will also be close to the third groove. But to make that strike with minimal risk of gardening, I have to enough protection to keep the edge out of the turf if I mis-hit the ball by a little bit. That can be determined by the leading edge height! The higher the edge, the more forgiveness there is on a mis-hit.

Now this is an incomplete answer. If the bounce is short, with a sharp back side, it will tend to dig into the turf a bit. It may not do it a lot, but it will have more resistance than a wider, smoother bounce. In the extreme case, the 1OutPlus will simply glide over the ground on anything less than a ridiculous angle.

The amount of leading-edge height you need will depend on your style. If you play the ball forward, you may not need much. But as you move the ball back, you’ll need to increase it. And if you are still inconsistent, a wider sole with a smooth contour will help you avoid episodes of extreme gardening. A blunt leading edge will also help. It may slow your club in the sand, but it will protect your chips.

There is no substitute for practice, but if you’re practicing chips from behind your right foot using a wedge with a sharp, low leading edge, you’re asking for frustration. If you’re chipping from a forward position with a blunt, wide sole wedge, you’ll be blading a lot of balls. So look at your chipping style and find a leading-edge height and profile that match your technique. Forget about the “high bounce” and “low bounce” wedges. That language doesn’t answer the right question.

Get a wedge that presents the club to the ball with the leading edge far enough off the ground to provide you with some forgiveness. Then knock ’em stiff!

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Golf 101: What is a strong grip?



What is a strong grip? Before we answer that, consider this: How you grip it might be the first thing you learn, and arguably the first foundation you adapt—and it can form the DNA for your whole golf swing.

The proper way to hold a golf club has many variables: hand size, finger size, sports you play, where you feel strength, etc. It’s not an exact science. However, when you begin, you will get introduced to the common terminology for describing a grip—strong, weak, and neutral.

Let’s focus on the strong grip as it is, in my opinion, the best way to hold a club when you are young as it puts the clubface in a stronger position at the top and instinctively encourages a fair bit of rotation to not only hit it solid but straight.

The list of players on tour with strong grips is long: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, David Duval, and Bernhard Langer all play with a strong grip.

But what is a strong grip? Well like my first teacher Mike Montgomery (Director of Golf at Glendale CC in Seattle) used to say to me, “it looks like you are revving up a Harley with that grip”. Point is the knuckles on my left hand were pointing to the sky and my right palm was facing the same way.

Something like this:

Of course, there are variations to it, but that is your run of the mill, monkey wrench strong grip. Players typically will start there when they are young and tweak as they gain more experience. The right hand might make it’s way more on top, left-hand knuckles might show two instead of three, and the club may move its way out of the palms and further down into the fingers.

Good golf can be played from any position you find comfortable, especially when you find the body matchup to go with it.

Watch this great vid from @JakeHuttGolf

In very simple terms, here are 3 pros and 3 cons of a strong grip.


  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and helps you hit further
  2. It’s an athletic position which encourages rotation
  3. Players with strong grips tend to strike it solidly


  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and can cause you to hit it low and left
  2. If you don’t learn to rotate you could be in for a long career of ducks and trees
  3. Players with strong grips tend to fight a hook and getting the ball in the air


Make Sense?


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