How to Dial in Your Wedges

By Contributing Writer

golf course green in fall
Wedge play is an area we often neglect when we are practicing. Yet if you watch the professionals play, they constantly turn three shots into two by hitting wedges close to the hole. This is an area you can improve as well, which is a sure way to get your handicap down.
To be successful, you must be far more precise about distance than with the longer irons. Being 6 or 7 yards out with a mid iron will still leave you on the green, which for most amateurs is all they're trying to do. With the wedges, you want to aim for more precision and get the distances as nearly perfect as you can, so that you leave yourself a short putt for birdie or to save your par.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
  1. Consider investing in a lob wedge if you don't have one. With three wedges, you already have three distances you can hit a full shot to, and that is easier than taking distance off the shot.
  2. Practice different lengths of backswing on the range. Take a full swing, one where your hands go to a 10 o'clock position, 9 o'clock and 8 o'clock. Apart from the backswing length, keep everything else, such as your setup and swing speed, the same. If possible, take a rangefinder to the range with you, so you can accurately measure the distance you are hitting the ball.
  3. Address the ball by putting the club behind the ball first. Pick out a spot a few yards in front of the ball, on line with your intended target, and line the clubface up carefully with that spot. Then move your body into position.
  4. Position the ball in the middle of your stance with your feet slightly open. Never try and overpower the shot; keep your swing smooth and accelerate through the ball to a high finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • With four different swing lengths and three different wedges, you have 12 distances you can hit the ball to. This should be enough to enable you to hit to within 2 or 3 yards of the pin. If you struggle taking a few yards off full pitching wedge shots, consider adding a gap wedge as well. Many pros carry four wedges. You may find that the extra precision this gives you in your short game is worth having to leave one or two longer clubs out of your bag.
  • No amount of control over the distance you strike the ball will matter if you don't know how far it is to the pin. Don't rely on guesswork. However you do it, have a specific distance in mind when you hit your shot. Then you can commit fully to the swing you need for that distance.