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The Wedge Guy: Have some “go-to” shots

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I’ve always been a proponent of having one or more “go-to” shots–those you have full confidence you can pull off whenever you need it.

The first “go-to” shot you need is one that is almost certain to put you in the fairway off the tee. Not necessarily long, of course, but one that will find the fairway a very high percentage of the time. For me, it’s the “bunt” driver. When I just have to hit a shot in the fairway, I am pretty darn confident that I can grip my driver down by about 2-3” and put what Ben Hogan called an “arm swing” on it. It’s not actually all arms, but rather a swing with very controlled pace and power, with the whole idea of making solid contact and producing a reliable trajectory and straight path. From my normal drives of 250 or so or so, this one gives me about 225-240 depending on roll out–plenty long for most short par fours where accuracy is key.

I’ve long been a firm believer that shorter and in the fairway beats long and crooked every time. For most, that might mean a 3-wood off the tee, but I see too many golfers club down and then amp up their swing because of it, and still hit it crooked. I strongly recommend that you spend some time on the range learning that ‘go-to’ bunt driver or other shot that you can rely on when things are demanding, or your full swing gets a little cantankerous.

Another ‘go-to’ shot should be one that can be counted on to get you reasonably close to the hole from ranges of 60-100 yards. That means having that one swing you know you can always rely on when you need to save a hole from disaster or when you have that shorter birdie hole. Again, I favor a throttled backswing, and then choose clubs from PW to sand wedge to make that swing deliver reliable, repeatable distances in that window.

If you are confident in a range that you can get up and down a reasonable percentage of the time, and almost never take more than three shots, it gives you an “out” when you put a drive in the trees, or a reasonable birdie chance on most all par-fives and short par fours. If you have confidence in getting up and down from 2-3 different distances inside 100 yards, you can play to those distances and remove the double-bogies from the card.

So, I’d like to toss this one to all you readers for more ideas for “go-to” shots. What are yours?

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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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Frank Crowe

    May 22, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    If it’s windy as it usually is in Scotland I hit a straight arm shot with a 6 iron off the back foot. It goes low and straight with a bit of bite when it lands about 100 yards away. An easy 8 iron for better weather 100 to 120 yards and a half shot with a 5 wood about 150 yards

  2. Jack

    May 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Fully agree that straight and in the fairway is worth much more than long and sometimes straight. You can’t make up the differences in hazard, OB, or even rough by the times you stripe it 30 yards further down the fairway. Trick is, people need a reliable swing to be able to hit a 3 wood properly. Bunt driver really is a easier option. I can do either the 80% 3 wood (which probably goes just as far as 100% LOL since I hit closer to the middle of the club) or arm swing driver which is easier to control and makes me wonder why I don’t just use it as my normal driver shot.

    Over a lot of other things golfers should work on is this actually. To have a consistent shot off the tee is invaluable to posting a respectable score. It also improves your swing on fairway shots too.

  3. Matt Callison

    May 21, 2020 at 10:50 am

    I think a go-to shot that not enough people practice (myself included) is the low, rolling, and straight punch-out shot from the rough. We all end up in the trees at some point and have limbs to go under or around.

    I’ve been looking into tips on this recently and it seems the consensus is: use a long iron, grip down, understand how to adjust to your lie, err on the side of thinning it, know where ball position needs to be for your unique swing to start straight and not curve.

    Don’t try to make-up for a bad drive on your second shot. Put yourself in a position to be aggressive with your THIRD shot while also taking the double bogey out of play.

    I’d love GolfWRX to do a video or short article on the punch-out shot.

  4. Mark M

    May 21, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Hi Terry,
    I am also a big fan of the choke down driver when you have to hit a fairway. I’ve been using it for about 10 years now and it is definitely a “go-to” shot. I’m already confident with my normal driver swing but the choke down swing frees me up to make a good swing cause I know I’ll get a good strike if I just maintain a good tempo. I found a lot of times I was trying too hard to hit it straight but not TOO short with a 3-wood.

    I’d say my next “go-to” shot is one I use a lot from 100 yds to 50 yds. I make a 9:00 backswing swinging with similar tempo back and through the ball. No effort to accelerate through, just turn back – turn through. I can use it with gap down to lob wedge and it’s pretty reliable.

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