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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Demystifying the ‘half wedge’ shot

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One of the more difficult aspects of golf, in my opinion, is learning the “touch” shots; those less-than-full swings that you need to score. It seems the vast majority of golfers are challenged by these, more than they are by the full swings, in fact. In my research and many sessions with recreational golfers, that shot comes up more often than any as one that people want to learn.

There are two basic camps of instruction on this shot. In one camp you have the people who advocate using the same club all the time and just learn to feel the distance. In the other are the advocates of using three different lengths of swings for all your wedges and then learning the distances of each different swing for each club.

I think either of those are OK…for golfers who are willing to put in lots of hours of practice. But I have always been focused on the typical recreational golfer who is just not (or cannot) going to invest that time. So I’m going to offer a slightly different approach to those “in-between” wedge shots–not quite a full swing, but more than a short pitch.

But it is true that this part of the game takes as much practice, or more, to develop as the full swing shots. In order to have touch and feel, you have to have a “database” of shots you’ve successfully executed to draw from. The more good ones you have in that database, the more likely you are to be able to pull one out of your arsenal with confidence. But that all starts with having a technique you can rely on, so let’s build that.

I’m a believer that the closer you get to the green, the slower you work. I compare the short game to the house painter. Painting walls allows full and powerful strokes with a large brush or roller, but as you get to the trim work, you work slower and more deliberately. Wedge play is a lot like that. I believe you can be more precise with a longer, slower swing, than a short “jabby” one. I’m also a proponent of controlling your swing power and clubhead speed with the rotation speed of your body core. To hit the ball further/harder, you rotate through faster. To hit the soft touch shots, you rotate through a little slower.

The key to that is to keep the hands “quiet”, so that you are not flipping the clubhead, and let the upper body, arms and hands work in perfect unison. If your hand speed (and therefore the clubhead speed) are always coordinated with the pace of your body core rotation, you’ll quickly learn how to manage the pace of that rotation to produce various distances.

One analogy that I like is to think of your less-than-full wedge swings like driving in various speed limit zones. The longer shots are “country road”, somewhat slower than a full “highway speed” swing pace. Beneath that is “city driving”, where the pace of body core rotation is even slower. And the shortest “half wedge” shots put you in “school zone”, which is defined by slower and more attentive.

I suggest you spend time with your gap and sand wedges, and practice this core-driven approach. Learn how the ball will fly the same shortened swing and various speeds of your core rotation. Once you get a good feel for that process, you can further vary the ball flight by gripping down on the club to different points on the grips–the shorter the club, the lower and shorter the ball will fly.

This is a very broad topic for such a short forum, but I hope that this different approach to those ‘half wedge shots’ will help those of you who are still searching for “the secret.”

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Acemandrake

    Mar 17, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I like to think of a less than full swing as an “arm swing”.

    Keep the lower body quiet, use hand/eye coordination to gauge the feel for distance and adjust swing length accordingly.

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Opinion & Analysis

“Golfers pay way too much attention to iron lofts” – On Spec podcast

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On this week’s episode of the “On Spec” podcast on the GolfWRX radio network hosted by Ryan Barath, the main focus of the show was on the misconception around fitting irons based on handicap and the focus on iron lofts – AKA “loft jacking”

The goal of the episode was to explain how irons are designed to help optimize the target golfer using a number of factors including lofts, and why it’s more important to focus on final results rather than stock specs.

“The goal should be for your clubs to go the right distance with the right trajectory… golfers focus too much on loft and not dynamics”

You can listen to the full show below, the above quote starts at 22:42

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Opinion & Analysis

Keep your golf body moving at home

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Over the past few months, I’m willing to bet that a lack of golf, limited access to gyms and spending more time at home in sitting positions will likely be having a negative effect on our posture.

This means certain muscles (pecs, abs, hip flexors) getting tight and short, thereby hunching us over, rounding our shoulders forward and tightening our hips. This combination can wreak havoc on our golf swings, particularly our ability to rotate efficiently.

This simple sequence of exercises, performed daily, will help maintain posture and mobility in the key areas that facilitate rotation in our golf swings. You can find these exercises and much more on the Golf Fit Pro app for iOS.

 

1 – Mid Back Massage – 1 x 90 seconds

Using a foam roller or tightly rolled up towel, aim to apply firm pressure through the mid and upper back whilst gently pushing out the rib cage and arching back. Move up and down the roller or towel to target different areas of your spine.

 

2 – Upper Back Extension – 1 x 30 seconds

Using a bench, box or chair, push the chest down toward the floor whilst keeping your abs / core engaged. You should feel this in your mid and upper back.

 

3 – Straight Arm Chest Stretch – 1 x 30 seconds each side

 

Find a wall, post or doorway, place your hand flat with elbow pointing to the floor and arm straight. Gently turn away from your hand until your feel a stretch in your chest and front of your shoulder.

 

4 – Step Up and Turn – 1 x 5 reps each side 

 

In a push up position, move your foot to the outside of your hand (or as close as possible) then rotate your upper torso with arm straight, aiming to point your hand straight up to the ceiling.

 

5 – Back Swing and Follow Through – 1 x 10 reps

Using a piece of rubber tubing or as pictured, the GravityFit TPro, get into your golf set up position pushing out against the tubing. From there turn into your backswing and then into your follow through. Aim to do the majority of the rotation with your torso, keeping your hands in front of your body.

 

You can check out more of Nick’s articles and services here:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

 

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Talking new Callaway Gear with Dave Neville

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On this episode of TGD, Johnny chats all things new Callaway gear with Sr. Director Brand and Product Management Dave Neville. They go deep into Epic Speed, the new Cally irons, and basically everything else.

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