Golf Tips - Reaching Lofty Heights Part III : Making the Swing

By Sharon Miller, LPGA Member

Now that you're set up to create a lofted wedge shot, consider possible swing faults which can prevent a well-stuck shot.

Closing the Clubface on the Backswing: The clubface does not face the ball at all times during the backswing. Instead, it works like an opening door. At the waist-high position in the backswing, the toe of the club should point upward with the leading edge-perpendicular to the ground. The clubface is closed if it is turned more to face the ground and ball. As noted above, avoid gripping too strongly and aiming with a closed clubface to the target.

Overswinging into Deceleration: Taking too big a backswing in relationship to the distance you hope the ball will travel makes you decelerate in the forward swing. Your body seems to know that you've gone too far in the backswing, so it slows down the forward swing to keep from hitting the ball over the green. Decelerating the club in the forward swing can cause fat or thing shots. Practice following through farther than the distance you take the club back. Reprogramming your brain input eliminates past bad habits.

Inside Swing Plane: If you swing the clubhead too much inside from the target line, the clubhead will return to the ball too shallow, making it difficult to get the clubhead underneath the ball. A steeper angle of approach by the clubhead is necessary to get the ball lofted. The club swinging down makes the ball go up. Never try to lift the ball up or swing up! The wedge has plenty of loft. Let the club do the work; don't try to help it.

Club Laid Off: With any golf shot, the direction in which the butt of the club points during the backswing indicates the club's returning path to the ball. With a less-than-full-swing wedge shot-that is, one using a one-quarter to three-quarter size backswing-the butt should point somewhere between the target line and your toe line in the backswing. When it doesn't, the clubhead cannot naturally return to the ball to produce the desired lofted shot. It would somehow have to be manipulated into the correct path, and this is pot luck. For example, if the but points beyond the target line, the clubhead will return to the ball shallow or in the shank position.

Once you can consistently hit lofted wedge shots, the fun begins. Now, you can have productive practice sessions to a target and start developing feel around the green. Begin with three different size swings, with each size determined by the distance your hands travel in the backswing. Take the club back to knee or thigh-high for a quarter swing; waist-high for a three-quarter swing. Through practice, you'll learn what size backswing to take for various distances.

Experiencing these different size softy-lofty shots on the golf course builds confidence for continued good shots and better scores. Don't berate yourself over a poor shot. Instead, allow the ball's direction, trajectory, and distance to tell you what went wrong so you can make the necessary corrections for the next wedge shot. *

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