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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: From “secret” to 5 basics for a better wedge game

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First of all, thanks to all of you who read and gave last week’s post such high marks. And for all of you who have sent me an email asking for me to address so many topics. Keep those coming and I’ll never run out of things to write about.

In response to so many of those who asked for more on the basics, I want to start a series of articles this week to address some of what I consider the basics as you move your wedge game from greenside chipping, back to “full” wedge distances.

While I certainly do not want to try to replace the skills and contributions of a good instructor, what I hope to accomplish over the next few posts is to give you some of what I consider the most sound and basic of fundamentals as you approach shots from the green back to 100-130 yards, or what you consider “full” swing pitching wedge distance.

So, to get this series kicked off, let’s take the most basic of greenside chips, where the ball lies in a reasonably decent lie 3-10 feet from the edge of the green. I know there are many theories and approaches to chipping the ball, from a “putt-stroke” to hitting them all with a lob wedge, but I’m going to focus on what I consider the most simple and basic of approaches to chipping, so here we go:

Club selection. For golfers who are not highly skilled in this shot and who do not yet want to try to exhibit tons of creativity, my theory is that it is much easier to master one basic technique, then choose the right club to deliver the appropriate carry/roll combination. Once you have done a little practice and experimenting, you should really understand that relationship for two to four different clubs, say your sand wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge.

Geometry. By that I mean to “build” the shot technique around the club and ball relationship to your body, as those are static. Start with your club soled properly, so that it is not standing up on the toe or rocked back on the heel. With the ball centered in the face, the shaft should be leaning very slightly forward toward the hole. Then move into your stance position, so that your lead arm is hanging straight down from your shoulders and your upper hand can grasp the grip with about 1-2” of “grip down” (I hate the term “choke up”). I’m a firm believer that the lead arm should not angle back toward the body, or out toward the ball, as either compromises the geometry of the club. The stance should be rather narrow and a bit open, weight 70% on your lead foot, and the ball positioned just forward of your trailing foot.

Relax. This is a touch shot, so it needs a very light grip on the club. Tension in the hands and forearms is a killer on these. I like to do a “pressure check” just before taking the club back, just to make sure I have not let the shot tighten me up.

The body core is key. This is not a “handsy” shot, but much more like a putt in that the shoulders turn away from the shot and back through, with the arms and hands pretty quiet. Because of the light grip, there will, by necessity, be some “loading” as you make the transition at the end of the backswing, but you want to “hold” that making sure your lead shoulder/forearm stay ahead of the clubhead through the entire through-stroke. This insures – like I pointed out last week – that the club stays in front of your body through the entire mini-swing.

Control speed with core speed. I think a longer stroke/swing makes for a smoother tempo on these shots. Don’t be afraid to take the club back a bit further than you might otherwise think, and just make the through-stroke as s-m-o-0-t-h as possible. Avoid any quickness or “jab-iness” in the stroke at all. Once you experiment a bit, you can learn how to control your body core rotation speed much easier than you can control hand speed. And it is nearly impossible to get too quick if you do that.

Again, I am certainly not here to replace or substitute for good instruction, and I know there are a number of approaches to chipping. This is just the one that I have found easier to learn and master in relation to the time you have to spend on your short game practice.

Next week, we’ll move back to those shorter pitches up to about 30 yards.

And keep those emails coming, OK? [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Over his 40-year career in the golf industry, he has created over 100 putter designs, sets of irons and drivers, and in 2014, he put together the team that reintroduced the Ben Hogan brand to the golf equipment industry. Since the early 2000s, Terry has been a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge as “The Wedge Guy”.   But his most compelling work is in the wedge category. Since he first patented his “Koehler Sole” in the early 1990s, he has been challenging “conventional wisdom” reflected in ‘tour design’ wedges. The performance of his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to move slightly more mass toward the top of the blade in their wedges, but none approach the dramatic design of his 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 – check it out at www.EdisonWedges.com.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: TOUR REPORT: Details on JT’s new ultra-custom Scotty Cameron putter – GolfWRX

  2. Lefthack

    Jan 20, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    This is what I was working on last time out. I felt this worked well for me and am glad it sounds like it should. Taking the club back a little further and using a softer and smoother swing gave me good spin for a solid stop.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 John Deere Classic: Outright Betting Picks

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After an incredible week of golf at the Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour makes one final stop at TPC Deere Run to play the John Deere Classic. Last year, we saw Lucas Glover capture his first win in more than a decade by firing a final round 64 to claim victory.

TPC Deere Run is a 7,268-yard par 71 located in Silvis, Illinois. The course historically fails to present a major challenge to golfers with easy-to-hit fairways and bentgrass greens. Most players will have short approach shots into the greens, and the event often turns into a bit of a putting contest.

The John Deere Classic will play host to 156 golfers, and as expected, the field is considerably weaker than we have gotten used to this season.

After a long run of top tier events, many of the world’s top players are taking the week off.

A few of the notable golfers who will make the trip to the Midwest include Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Denny McCarthy and Sahith Theegala.

2022 John Deere Classic Best Bets

Cameron Davis (+4000)

Cam Davis is a player who has the skill set I am targeting at TPC Deere Run this week. In the field, he ranks 17tin Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass and 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach.

The Australian had some stretches last week at the Travelers where it looked like he was going to contend deep into the weekend and some other stretches where he struggled mightily. While the poor play at times was a bit of a concern, it wasn’t as important as what he showed when he was playing well.  In a weak field, we are betting on the ceiling of Cameron Davis.

The 27-year-old has already proven he can win on Tour and won at this time last year. It may not seem like it at first glance, but Davis offers us relative value in this field.

Cameron Champ (+5000)

It’s more likely than not that Cameron Champ plays horribly this week. He’s missed four consecutive cuts and has had a pretty disappointing year overall. However, if you play this event 50 times, I feel very confident in saying that Champ wins at least once. Therefore, there is relative value in betting the 27-year-old this week.

Since Champ has arrived on the scene in 2018, he’s already accumulated three PGA Tour victories. “Win equity” is a term I often use in these articles, and Champ is a great example of a golfer who finds a way to win more often than his odds tend to indicate.

Yes, there’s a good chance he struggles this week. But there’s also a chance he gains eight strokes putting and wins the tournament.

Chez Reavie (+5000)

Reavie comes to the John Deere Classic quietly playing some very good golf. He has four top 27 finishes in his past five starts, including an 8th place finish at last week’s Travelers Championship.

The 40-year-old is gaining an average of 3.7 strokes from tee to green in his past five events. In many ways, Reavie is a similar to player to Lucas Glover (who won this event last year). He is a strong iron player who is good with a wedge. If he can gain a few strokes putting instead of losing strokes to field as he typically does, he is super live to win at TPC Deere Run.

Chesson Hadley (+15000)

Chesson Hadley used an excellent Sunday to catapult him to a top-5 finish at the Travelers Championship. His excellent round of 64 was one shot shy of the low round of the day, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he can use the momentum to propel him into contention at the John Deere Classic.

In the past we’ve seen hot putters propel golfers to victory at TPC Deere Run. Hadley is a player who is capable of gaining an absurd number of strokes with the putter when he has it going.

The John Deere Classic is one of the few spots on the schedule where journeymen have been able to get it done and is as good of a spot as ever to end Hadley’s nine-year winless streak on Tour.

Brandon Wu (+15000)

Brandon Wu is a golfer who’s ceiling I believe in long-term. Since his second-place finish at the Mexico Open, he’s been quite disappointing, but this is a tournament where I believe in taking chances of golfers with a high upside.

The Stanford product has loads of talent. He won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour Championship and beat out many players in this field in doing so.

This is a low risk, high reward bet on a golfer who is still developing on the PGA Tour.

Hayden Buckley (+15000)

Hayden Buckley is another golfer who is on the rise. He finished 14th in the U.S. Open, proving he has what it takes to compete on the PGA Tour.

In an event where I feel as though most any player in the field is live to win, it’s a good opportunity to bet a young up-and-comer in hopes that his ceiling comes to fruition against a weak field.

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Podcasts

TG2: Brand new Titleist TSR woods and Callaway’s new Jaws Raw wedges

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Titleist just released its new TSR woods out on tour and 18 players switched into it right away. Our thoughts on the drivers and fairway woods from pictures and in-hand looks. Callaway’s new Jaws Raw wedges have been on tour in a few bags already, but they officially launched this week. Brooks is headed to LIV and neither of us are shocked. We finally break down some more equipment news from the Travelers.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Talking technical turkey with the head of Takomo Golf Clubs

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Enjoying our discussion on irons, wedges, and fairway woods.

 

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