If you watch the best players in the world hit wedges, you’ll see them frequently using a shot that most amateurs don’t have. It’s called a “flighted” wedge, and it flies with a lower-than-normal trajectory and usually moves from right-to-left (for righties) into the pin. This is helpful because the lower ball flight stays below the wind, improves consistency and offers more spin. It’s a shot that can take an average wedge game to the next level.
Below are my 5 keys to flighting your wedges for better control.
1) Maintain a Consistent Angle of Attack
The best wedge players nip the ground with their wedges, only “bruising” it, not spending their day on the course carving up pork chops. That’s because their angle of attack (AoA) isn’t overly steep and their swing mechanics allow them to re-create a desirable impact position (an AoA that’s a few degrees downward to ensure clean contact) time after time.
All golfers golfer should aim to take shallow divots like tour players, but getting a little steeper is OK so long as you’re consistent. You want the ball to launch in the same “window” with a predictable trajectory and amount of spin when the ball hits the green.
2) Control your Dynamic Loft
The loft of the club at impact is called dynamic loft, and if you want to lower the flight of your golf ball you will need to reduce it. If you lean the shaft forward too much at impact, however, you will reduce your trajectory to a point that the landing angle of the ball is too flat and no amount of spin you produce will make the ball stop or spin back. This factor is the most difficult one for most amateurs to control, so you will need to practice.
3) Reduce the Overall Height of the Ball Flight
As stated above, if you decrease the dynamic loft you will decrease launch angle and the overall height will be affected. Take this with a grain of sand. We desire a “flatter” ball flight, not a head-high screaming bullet into the green. You know what your normal peak trajectory looks like (around 75-90 feet for most golfers) with your wedges, so make sure it is a touch more flighted than your full-shot height.
4) Manage Spin Rates
The spin rate of the ball will influence its landing action on the green. It makes no sense to spin one shot at 10,000 rpm and the other at 6,000 rpm from the same distance. The point of flighting a wedge is consistency, not adding variance.
The key to a consistent spin rate, assuming your mechanics are solid, is keeping your wedge face and grooves clean and making contact on the same part of your club face time after time. The next time you’re practicing using your favorite launch monitor, make sure to keep an eye on the spin rate and try to keep it in a tight range.
5) Move the Ball into the Pin from Right to Left
First, I want to thank Mike Bender. He taught me the aspects of moving your wedge shots into the green from right-to-left and why you should do it.
He and Zach Johnson worked on this before Zach won The Masters, and it was one of the keys to his success. Most greens are pitched from back to front, so if you hit the ball into the pin from right to left and land the ball right of the pin, the ball will land, hop and spin back, moving toward the hole instead of away from it. When the ball stops, you’re also more likely to have an uphill, right-to-left putt, which is statistically the easiest putt to make for right-handed players.
To move the ball from right to left with your wedges your club path must be right of your face angle at impact. Pay attention to your starting direction and make sure the ball is beginning a little to the right of the pin so you can move the ball towards the pin, not away from it.
Let’s take a look at what a flighted wedge shot looks on Trackman so I can show you what the numbers should look like. One thing I like about the latest Trackman software (TPS 4.1) is the ability to see my average number within each data point, as well as the plus-minus difference between all my shots; it helps me chart how tight my tolerances are in each category.
Here is a screenshot of my “flighted” wedge practice session.
The big numbers in each category are for the last shot hit, while the smaller numbers (on the left) are the averages for the 15 or so shots I hit for this article.
Angle of Attack
My AoA is right about -7 degrees, which is OK for this shot. As you can see, it was a very consistent data point at only 0.8 degrees of difference. I would prefer to have a slightly less downward AoA, but at least it’s consistent.
My dynamic loft on this shot was 38.9 degrees with my 54-degree wedge. While this might look good, it represents too little loft for my needs. As stated above, when you hit down too much on the ball you’ll tend to also lean the shaft too far forward. If I shallow out my AoA, the dynamic loft will fall more inline with what I’d like it to become.
I’m pleased with the overall height of my shots, though the AoA and Dynamic Loft ranges were a touch off. The height of my shots stayed relatively consistent at 43.4 feet (my shot traveled about 75 yards on average) with a variance of only 3.5 feet. At least I will have a consistent shot reaction from the golf ball when it hits the green.
I am not as concerned with the overall rotations per minute, but the rather the consistency of them. My average spin rate was 4760 rpm (not too bad for the range balls I was hitting), but I was concerned with my range at 1142 rpm. As you can see, I hit too many short and spinny wedge shots that didn’t go as far as the others, radically affecting the overall spin consistency. I must stay “down” a touch longer though impact for this to subside.
The value here was -4.6 and the consistency was +/- 1.6 degrees, showing me that most of my shots were moving in the direction that I’d like them to be moving. It’s easy to “hang” wedges or overcook them when you don’t practice, so this isn’t too bad for me.
So it’s off to the lesson tee for me to make sure I can do this without hitting down on the ball too much. Learn how to flight your wedges, your scores will thank you!