For professional golfers, a 60-degree lob wedge around the green could be classified as a surgical scalpel. Many pros—most notably Phil Mickelson—have built their reputations on the ability to hit miraculous recovery shots with these higher-lofted clubs. Phil has even gone as far as carrying a 64-degree wedge for extreme situations where it might come in handy.
For regular golfers though, higher-lofted wedges can end up being anything but scalpel-like, unless you plan on using one to shred your scorecard after the round. Higher lofted wedges can become a massive liability because of their limited margin for error and the speed at which they are swung. This is also why we see so many people trying to innovate in the wedge market—small changes for regular golfers can make a noticeable difference.
The benefits and dangers of the lob wedge
Being able to effectively use a lob wedge can save a lot of shots around the green, especially when faced with a short-sided up and down or a difficult buried lie, but the hardest part of an open-faced lob wedge shot is repeatability. It’s why you can feel like a hero on one hole, and a complete failure on the next—because the ball ended up exactly where it started…or it ends up on the other side of the green…
Professionals at the highest level have the benefit of hitting these shots countless times in practice over and over, not just at their home course but week to week in varying conditions on different grass types. Most golfers don’t have this luxury, and without practice or understanding the dynamics of hitting the shot properly, the failure rate goes up quickly. This is why reasonable expectations, good decision making, and simple technique changes can make a big difference.
Wedges with 60 degrees of loft (and even 56 in some cases) look easy to hit since they have large faces which in turn equals greater surface area to make contact but face area versus effective face area to make contact are two completely different things.
Compared to a club with less loft, the most extreme being a driver, there is a smaller effective area to make contact and transfer energy to the ball, and beyond the transfer of energy, any club that has an effective loft of more than 50 degrees at impact will be more difficult to control in less than perfect conditions since the coefficient of friction decreases. That means you have less control over launch parameters including spin, which on short shots is one of the biggest components to stop the ball close to the intended target.
Solutions to your wedge problem
This one is the most obvious, but it’s also the least exciting: practice. By dedicating valuable practice time to the short game, you can quickly see improvements. Practice helps ingrain “feels” in your technique and also helps build up the knowledge to analyze ground conditions and lies to know which club to hit and how to play the shot.
The second option is a new wedge—come on, who doesn’t want a new wedge? Whether it be based on loft, bounce, or sole configuration, getting set up with the right tools can make a world of difference, especially if what you are using now is ill-fit to your game. If you really struggle with the short shots around the green and are willing to admit that practice isn’t an option, I highly recommend trying a specialty club designed to make the game easier. I know it’s not the “sexy” option but something like the Cutter CTR1 wedge: Cutter wedge -here to help, or a Square Strike wedge for chipping can make golf fun and easier.
Learning to hit different shots, and making simple changes to how you approach the hole can make a huge difference very quickly to your game. This can involve choosing to hit more low running square faced shots with lower lofted-clubs like a 9 or 8-iron, or if you are still trying to be as aggressive as possible, learning to hit delofted shots with your higher lofted wedges which can also help create more spin. If possible, taking a short game lesson with a teacher can be truly game-changing with a few simple technique adjustments.
Last but not least, managing expectations can help take the pressure off when hitting shots around the green and help you make better decisions, leading to lower scores. Instead of trying to hit a “hero” flop shot over a bunker from a bad lie, aim for a larger part of the green and give yourself a better opportunity make your next shot—again not a magic cure, but if you do this a few more times in a round of golf, you can turn those wedges into weapons—and not weapons of self-destruction.
The 19th Hole Episode 168: Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen discusses Bryson
World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen discusses Bryson DeChambeau’s controversial entry at the World Long Drive Championships. Also features Kristine Rose of Kemper Sports and host Michael William’s Ryder Cup breakdown.
Club Junkie: New Fujikura Speeder NX and Mizuno ST-G Driver Reviews!
Fujikura has a new Speeder NX with a new Variable Torque Core that adds low torque for stability in the handle and tip section while leaving the mid-section with higher torque for better energy transfer.
The Speeder NX has a stout, but smooth, feel and offers a more mid launch with mid/low spin. The new Mizuno ST-G driver is ultra adjustable to fit any golfer out there. Mid launch and low spring, the Beta Titanium face has good ballspeed on shots hit way away from the center!
You can also watch on our YouTube channel here.
The Wedge Guy: Takeaways from the Ryder Cup
Like most of us, I watched quite a bit of the Ryder Cup matches this past weekend and was happy to see the “youth movement” of the U.S. Team rise to the occasion. Congrats to all the players, caddies, coaches, and support teams of our victorious U.S. team!
What I saw were a bunch of matches that were not too dissimilar to those most of us play on a regular basis. The wins were much more often due to great up-and-down scrambling or great putts. Very few holes, it seemed, were won by spectacular shotmaking — knocking the flags down with approach shots. Of course, there were plenty of those – in that many matches between the world’s best 24 golfers, how could there not be?
But by and large, holes and matches were won on and around the greens, just like they are with every round of golf we regular golfers play. Guys that could make the clutch chip or pitch – or the spectacular recovery like we saw from Jordan Spieth – WOW! And then there’s always the huge impact on your score from making more than “your average share” of the 4- 10-foot putts, and maybe even sneaking in a few more from 15 foot and longer.
If any of us are to take a lesson away from the Ryder Cup, it’s this: Spend the bulk of your practice time hitting short chips and pitches — and on the putting green — if you really want to make an impact on your average scores.
One of my favorite short game practice routines can be executed on any practice range, and you can do it with as large a bucket of balls as you can. With your sand wedge, hit a couple of shots toward the front of the range, starting with a target 20 to 30 feet in front of you. Then, hit a few shots to that target ball, varying the height of the shot – one low, one medium, one high – with the goal of flying the ball to that target ball from the firsts shot. Then hit a shot 10-15 feet past that grouping and do it all again, then another group of shots to a spot 10-15 feet closer to you. Repeat this pattern to different groups of balls ranging from 10-15 in front of you, on out to 15-20 yards or more. Work back and forth between these groupings – always bearing down to hit the exact shots you want.
Your future short game success will be proof that this drill develops a feel for hitting all the different greenside scoring shots you need to play to your potential.
As it pertains to actually “practicing” your putting, I think there are two aspects of that process.
The first is to drill on your basic stroke mechanics. I think the best way to do that is to lay down a chalk line on a dead straight putt of 6-10 feet. Hit putt after putt paying close attention to your face angle and alignment at address and to making a simply back-and-through stroke. You simply cannot hit enough of these.
The second practice putting routine I like is to putt the circuit around the putting green, hitting left- and right-breaking putts from distances of 20-40 feet. I recommend hitting two putts each time using the second putt to “go to school” from the break and speed of the first one. This is the only way to gain a “library” of feels and looks that will serve you on the course as you play a round of golf.
Those are my “lesson” takeaways from the Ryder Cup.
But the other thing that was so very evident was the havoc that a stout wind can deal into a round of golf. On Saturday, the wind blew harder than the other days, and the shotmaking showed it. There were many fewer shots covering the flag or hit pin-high — and many more that sailed wide of the target or came up way long or short.
It really doesn’t matter what level you play the game, the wind is always the most difficult “hazard” to negotiate as you propel a 1.68-ounce golf ball around several miles of golf course real estate.
Watch the difference in scoring from week to week on the PGA Tour – comparing those dead still days and the low scores any course will yield, to those days when the wind kicks up and changes the game considerably.
Again, kudos and congratulations to the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team. Great going, guys!
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