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The Wedge Guy: Has the game changed forever…or just “theirs”?

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I’m betting no one saw this coming through all the build up of how Winged Foot was going to be a “true” U.S. Open test – narrow fairways, deep rough and firm, fast conditions. I’ll bet very few had Bryson DeChambeau in their list of “most likely to”, even if you are an ardent fan of the young man.

No, I’m thinking most of us never saw it coming…I know I certainly did not. As I watched this year’s edition of our national championship unfold, I was struck by a number of oddities and acceptances.

First of all, with fairways “as narrow as 30 yards”, I thought surely these tour professionals would respect the gnarly rough and display an atypical set of shotmaking talents and skills, showing us finally that they can hit accurate drives when they have to.

Boy was I wrong. Did you notice how many were missing fairways even when they hit fairway woods and irons from the tee? That really shocked me, to be honest. I just believe that PGA Tour professionals would be able to navigate tee shots into 30-yard-wide fairways at a much higher percentage that we witnessed. The field average was closer to 25% than 50. But they proved that their strength and power can muscle the ball out of even that kind of rough with enough control to “tame” an otherwise beast of a golf course.

The other “acceptance” we all need to realize is that these guys are simply amazing around and on the greens. Their exquisite talents and skills allow them to hit a remarkable variety of recovery shots – chips, pitches, bunker shots, run-ups . . . Their talents are borderline mystical. And their putting skills are just as impressive. These guys (and their caddies) read greens with astounding accuracy and just do not seem to hit very many bad putts. Their misses more often look like the ball “wanted” to go in, but it just wasn’t to be.

So, what can we “mere mortal” golfers learn from all this?

I believe the first takeaway is that we play a totally different game than they do. Very few of us recreational golfers have the strength to continually muscle the ball out of even “normal” rough to put it in a position to successfully finish out the hole with a par or better. For most of us, I have no doubt that our best scores come when we hit the fewest shots from the rough. I challenge all of you to keep track of your “strokes lost” when your tee shot does not leave you in the fairway with a clean lie and open shot to the green.

Secondly, we do not have anything close to their skills around the greens. If you miss greens, you are more likely to make bogey or worse than to save par. Leaving the distance thing out of the equation, this is the largest chasm between the skills of tour player and regular amateurs. Day in and day out, these elite players get up and down more than 50% of the time, and very few amateurs approach 30% from my research. What’s the moral of that story? Spend more time practicing your creativity and execution on the shortest of shots…that is, IF you really want to lower your scores.

Finally, these guys are so darn good with the putter in their hands…It certainly doesn’t hurt that they putt on pool-table-perfect greens most of the time. Or that they have a great caddy to help them get an accurate read on most every putt. Or that they focus on positioning their approach shots and recoveries to give themselves the best look at the hole. But also realize that they practice incessantly on this part of the game.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. second hand machines

    Oct 13, 2020 at 3:46 am

    Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  2. JJ

    Sep 25, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    I’m afraid golf is going to go the way of tennis. The tennis audience lost interest in the men’s game when it came to just over powering opponents with a serve. I hope this does not effect golf in the same way.

  3. Bill

    Sep 25, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Bryson was the best on this course this time. No doubt!
    I don’t like the long putter. I don’t think they should allow green reading books during tournament play. The new drop rule is ridiculous! The way it’s being applied they might as well let them place the ball always. To have the ball roll 1/2” and be outside the drop zone is nuts. Second time it rolls outside the drop zone should be a 1 stroke penalty and re-drop etc. etc. And go back to the 2 club drop area. No free drops for sprinkler heads around the green.

  4. Connor

    Sep 24, 2020 at 10:06 am

    This thinking is outdated. The stat closest correlated to great putting stats is average proximity from the hole on the approach shot. So, really, we should be working on our ball striking in the range we see most of our approaches. Like 80-150 yards.

  5. Juan

    Sep 24, 2020 at 4:22 am

    I think that the have the green book with all the breaks and with that Its easier to putt. Forbid the books and everything will be the Ok. Long shooters tend to win more.

  6. Chris Rock

    Sep 23, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks to the admin. for blocking my input! I’ll say it again. The USGA and the RNA missed the boat on the broom handle putters! Any putter over 36″ should have been ruled illegal from the get go! Kuch, Langer, Webb Simpson and The Nutty Professor would not have won half the tourney’s they have won without ’em. These long putters are still a joke!

    • Joe Blow

      Sep 24, 2020 at 4:02 pm

      ding ding ding. we have a winner. I have no issue with what BC does – except anchoring the putter to his forearm.

    • Bob Jones

      Sep 25, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I’m 6’6″ tall and have a 38″ putter. I’ll go to a 36″ putter if the rest of you go to 30″ putters.

      • Bob Pegram

        Sep 26, 2020 at 1:59 am

        Good point!
        I have the same issue with clubs. I am older and less flexible so I can’t bend over and turn my hips during the swing without wrenching my back. So I use longer clubs so I can stand more upright and protect my back even when I swing hard. They don’t give much more distance, but they sure make me more comfortable and more accurate. (I have long legs, a shorter torso and shorter than typical arms as well as a flat swing. All of those and my inflexibility make me need longer clubs.)

      • Funkaholic

        Sep 28, 2020 at 9:40 am

        Way to miss the point Lurch.

  7. Johnny Penso

    Sep 23, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Bryson gained strokes in every category. It’s not like he gained 15 off the tee and lost strokes on approach, putting and around the greens. He simply performed at a high level in all aspects of his game, much like the old Tiger used to do. If his putting is on and he hits the ball reasonably straight he’s going to contend just like he has for the past few months.

  8. Gordy3279

    Sep 23, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Mike Davis is out at the USGA..reason why..he ran the U.S.Open into ground. Him winning at -6 was pathetic.

    • Eclectic Taste

      Sep 24, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      He was the only guy under par, just like Tiger at Pebble in 2000. Not pathetic, example of a highly skilled golfer beating the rest of the field.

  9. iceman

    Sep 23, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    I still feel that it is not fair to say that the long hitters have poor accuracy. If you have the same launch direction and spin axis tilt the guy who hits it 220 yards is on the edge of the fairway amd the 330 yard guy will be in the trees. To be hitting it 330 and only be 3 or 4 feet into the rough is actually highly accuratw driving.

    • Moosejaw McWilligher

      Sep 23, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      This is 100% correct – not to mention, the fairways are much narrower for longer drivers because of the angles – unless it’s a totally straight hole.

      Much easier to hit fairways when you’re short. Or when you top it.

  10. jackwoods@gmail.com

    Sep 23, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    media fishing for clicks with this guy he did it for one weekend can he do for years to come like brooks K flash in pan

    • G

      Sep 23, 2020 at 11:00 pm

      Dude he has 8 wins and a major at 27? Flash in the pan? Someone now. That’s ridiculous

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