Golf Tips - Reaching Lofty Heights Part II : Preparing to Swing

By Sharon Miller, LPGA Member

If you're having trouble getting loft from your wedge, check your pre-swing fundamentals. Here are the basic setup checkpoints for the less-than-full-swing wedge shot.

Photo showing grip set up and stance The Setup Make sure your grip is correct. Especially ensure that your hands are not in too strong of a position. For right-handers, the more the hands are turned to the right from a neutral position on the clubhandle, the stronger the grip (opposite for left-handers). You will see too much of the back of the left hand and the fingers of the right. A strong grip tends to close and deloft the clubface, creating low shots that go to the left. Hands turned more to the left form a weak grip, which tends to open and add loft to the clubface.

Grip down on the clubshaft to make it shorter in length. Although this isn't necessary, it gets you closer to the ball, makes the club lighter, and puts you into a less-than-full-swing frame of mind. You may find this helpful. Play the ball in the center of your stance or where your swing arc bottoms out. Playing the ball too far back in your stance can cause a topped or bladed shot. (Sculled is another term for those across-the-green screamers.) Playing the ball too far forward can cause the notorious chilly dip.

Take a narrower stance than normal. This quiets down your lower body and also puts you in a shorter backswing frame of mind. Open your stance a little to help you follow through more easily-like lobbing a ball underhanded onto the green.

Weight is equally distributed or, preferably, a little more on the forward foot. Minimal weight shift during the swing gives the clubhead a better chance of returning to where it started with a descending blow and getting underneath the ball. A more pronounced weight shift during the swing makes for a longer, flatter bottom of your forward swing arc, which increases your odds for hitting a fat or sculled shot.

Hands are in a forward press position even with or a little ahead of the ball. The hands stay ahead of the clubhead throughout the swing. If the arms and hands decelerate on the forward swing, the clubhead catches up and passes the hands, causing the clubhead to either hit the ground too far behind the ball or blade the ball.

These setup guidelines work for many of my students but don't constitute the only correct technique. Experiment to find what works best for you. It's not how, but how many that counts. *





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