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The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo



One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.


If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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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



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  2. Olle Eriksson

    Jul 23, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    My guess is that the quick tempo comes from the full swing where things are more forceful. So when you’re suddenly facing a chip shot or a pitch shot it’s hard to slow down just let gravity do the work.

  3. DKey

    Jun 3, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Agree completely. This is what Lee Trevino preaches. And this is why – when Tiger, Charlie and Lee were together on the practice range at the PNC – Tiger told Charlie that Lee Trevino is ‘…why you draw your wedges…” great insight, thank you The Wedge Guy

  4. ChipNRun

    May 15, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Terry said:

    “Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using
    a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one
    before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and
    slower each time, as you are moving the club further and
    further back each time.”

    This may work for feelers, but for mechanics who use the Pelz clockface method this is a no-go. Us wedge matrix golfers vary the length of backswing + selected club, to walk the wedge shots forward and back inside 100 yards.

    The fluid swing motion is a great way to decelerate your swing and leave the ball 30 feet short of the pin. You worry about over acceleration, but forget the dangers of deceleration.

    Plus, if depends on where one plays. If the course just fertilizes fairways and greens, this may work. But, if you play a course that fertilizes the turf wall-to-wall, the off-green grass can be pretty dense.

    Spindly rough a la British links may allow a “gravity drop” short game. But well nourished zoysia or bent will grab the wedge like a wet blanket. Again, the ball will end up 30 feet short of the pin.

  5. Jim Champley

    May 13, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    It’s “farther,” not “further !”

  6. Bob Jones

    May 13, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Amen. These are finesse shots. These are delicate shots. Light grip pressure and a respectful tempo work wonders.

  7. Rainshadow

    May 11, 2022 at 11:09 am

    In the “rush” to combat slow play, I think people get it backwards.
    Be ready to hit full shots when it’s your turn. Take your time around and on the greens.
    I see too many people not ready to play on the tee or from the fairway, then feel pressured to play quickly at the green.

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Kelley: Recycle old drills to capture that feel



Sometimes it can be beneficial to re-introduce an old swing drill back into your training. Regardless if you felt the drill clicked or didn’t click at that time, you will more than likely notice a difference this time around.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for its not the same river and he is not the same man.” – Heraclitus

Let’s apply that famous quote to the golf swing. The first part, “not the same river” can apply to the physical swing itself. Chances are your swing has changed since first learning or practicing the swing drill. You can be more comfortable with the motion, or you could have made swing changes over time, making the drill feel vastly different now.

The second part of that quote, “not the same man” applies to you, yourself. More than likely, your physiology is different today and now at this very moment. Each new day you have changed. Players have gone back to a drill from years ago to find they have discovered a completely different feel and understanding of that particular drill.

For example, here is a baseline drill I have students revert back to on a regular basis. The foot-back drill both cleans up the set-up angles and gets the lead and trail side of the body moving efficiently.

This is a great drill to get the feeling of set-up angles and how the lead and trail side of the body can move in the backswing. However, further down the road, this drill can be used to get the feeling of covering the ball at impact, a multi-purpose drill depending on where you place your attention or how you feel.

As Nick Price once said, “Every player has two to three habits that cause problems, we have to be on the lookout for them.” Developing baseline drills you can revert back to helps these tendencies stay in remission and can help keep the structure to your swing.

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You hear this all the time! When there is no ball, I have an amazing golf swing but when the ball is there, my swing goes into the toilet. Remove that ball from your sight and enjoy some great ball striking!

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Clement: How to GENTLY hammer your drives 300 yards



Shawn shows you why strong grips don’t hook the ball and how a simple adjustment will have you belting it past the 300-yard mark.

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