How to Hit Solid Wedge Shots by Correcting These Mistakes

By Todd Kolb
October 17, 2019

Don’t Know How to Hit Solid Wedge Shots? The First Step is to Eliminate These Common Amateur Mistakes from Your Game.

Want to know how to hit solid wedge shots?

If your wedge shots aren’t as accurate or consistent as you want them to be, the solution is probably much easier than you think. In my twenty-plus years of teaching golf, I’ve seen it proven time and again that the biggest difference between good wedge players and bad wedge players is their ability to understand and control their shot trajectory.

To put it more simply:

The biggest mistake most amateur golfers make with their wedges is hitting the ball too high.

It’s true. You can see remarkable improvement in your wedge shots just by bringing the trajectory down. And I’m going to explain how you can do that by making three super easy adjustments to the way you hit your wedges.

Let’s get started.

What Makes a Good Wedge Player?

Great wedge players have complete control over the distance and trajectory of their golf ball.

Have you ever seen a PGA professional like Jordan Spieth hit a wedge shot?

Whether he is using a lob wedge or a pitching wedge, he lowers the ball flight by decreasing his swing speed. This allows Spieth to have complete control over the distance of his shot and it is much easier for him to connect with the sweet spot on the golf club.

Now, tour professionals become good wedge players by having constant golf instruction. Also, they do so because they’ve spent hours hitting wedge shots. However, there are a few things that nearly every professional golfer does that you can do to become a better wedge player right now.

  • Make sure the grooves on your lob wedge, sand wedge and pitching wedge are clean.
  • Work on your pitch shots around the green. This will help with feel and touch.
  • Your backswing should not be too long. Partial wedge shots are easier to control and typically have less trajectory.

Good wedge players also have many different shots that they can hit. For most amateurs, the only wedge that you should use a full swing with is your pitching wedge.

Distance control and direction become more difficult as you add loft and speed. The longer the ball is in the air, the more external factors come into play. Making a full golf swing with a lob wedge (especially in windy conditions) decreases your distance control and accuracy.

Example

Now let’s run over a scenario where a good wedge player would show their skills:

They approach a par 4, and stripe their tee shot down the middle of the fairway.

Their second shot is 110 yards from the flag, but their approach shot is into the wind.

They then take out their pitching wedge and hit a low flighted, partial wedge shot that ends up 10 feet from the hole. In regular conditions they could hit their full pitching wedge around 130 yards. But by reducing trajectory and swing speed, they can maximize their precision.

The average amateur would use their 110 yard club and try to hit a full shot with a high spin rate. Even if the golf club hits the ball in the sweet spot perfectly, the shot will likely fall short.

Course Management

Another aspect of a good wedge player’s game is their decision making process. Using the correct club in the right situation is just as important as how the golfer hits the golf ball.

For example, if a golfer is presented with a ball that is on the fringe or just off the green, most players would choose to hit a chip shot.

In fact, the best option is usually to putt the ball rather than chip it. The phrase that I use with my students is “your worst putt is always better than your worst chip.”

When hitting a chip shot, the golfer could skull it over the green or hit a fat shot. The golfer could also misjudge the length of their backswing and the backspin put on the ball.

On the other hand, a poorly judged putt is likely to still be on the green.

Of course, good wedge players can control the trajectory and distance of their shot. However, they also know when to use certain wedges and when to not use a wedge at all. Having this skill can make your golf game improve rapidly.

Tip #1: Club Selection

When a player asks me how to hit solid wedge shots, I usually start by telling them to select the right club.

I know—that seems a little basic . . . maybe even so obvious it doesn’t need to be said.

But here I am saying it, because it’s a mistake I see all the time. When most amateur players get ready to hit a wedge shot, they reach for the most lofted club in their bag—usually something around 58 degrees. Then they make a full swing at maximum speed. Here’s the problem with that:

A lot of loft + a lot of speed = a lot of height

Hitting a high-lofted wedge is going to heighten the trajectory of your ball flight, making it difficult to control ball spin and distance.

My advice is to start pulling out a wedge with a lower loft. Try something around 54 degrees. You’ll find that the trajectory comes down, helping you improve accuracy and distance control.

Types of Wedges

The sand wedge (54 degrees) is great around the green and at it’s best when used in a sand trap. The sand wedge has just enough loft to get the ball up in the air without sacrificing distance.

Your lob wedge is your most lofted club in the air, meaning it is the best option when you need to get the golf ball up in the air fast.

For example, a great opportunity to use your lob wedge on the golf course is when you’re off the putting green and chipping from in the rough. There is also not a lot of distance between you and the hole.

This is the optimal time to hit a high and soft golf shot that lands softly and rolls up next to the hole. 

Another great opportunity to use a lob wedge is when you are hitting a pitch shot around 30 to 50 yards from the hole. Once again, you would generally be in a position where you do not have a lot of green between you and the hole. This would be a perfect time to hit a high backspin pitch shot with your lob wedge.

Your pitching wedge has the least amount of loft out of all of your wedges and can be used in a number of ways.

Firstly, it can be used to hit a golf ball an average distance between 90 and 130 yards (depending on how far you hit the ball).

Secondly, it can be used to hit a chip shot around the green that has little backspin and rolls out almost like a putt.

As previously explained, all of your wedges can be used for regular golf shots as well as when you are chipping around the green. Knowing when to use your specific wedges can dramatically help your golf game.

Tip #2: Ball Position

Optimizing your ball position is often the greatest and simplest change you can make to improve any shot.

Now, for a lower lofted club like a 9- or 8-iron, you want to position the ball in the center of your stance.

However, when you’re preparing to make a golf wedge shot, your best bet is to position the ball slightly back of center. Then, while your ball is in this behind-center position, move your hands slightly in front of the ball. That creates a backward shaft line, takes a little bit of loft off the club, and helps bring the trajectory down.

The swing weight when over the golf ball should also be slightly forward from center. More towards your lead foot (left foot for righties).

As a side note: When I work on ball position with my students, I like to use the Rimer short game trainer. It’s a great tool for ensuring accuracy and training the eye to judge your setup better. If you’re using the Rimer to work on ball position for your wedge shots, position each foot at an end bracket, position the slider at “I”, then line the ball up with the slider. Then you’re good to go.

Tip #3: Length and Speed of Swing

When you increase your clubhead speed—all things being equal—you get more height. This is especially true when you also get the kind of loft a wedge provides. In order to get a steady, controlled golf wedge shot, bring that swing speed down just a bit.

Just as important, look at shortening the length of your swing. We don’t think about length as often as speed, but this is a key component in bringing that trajectory down when you’re hitting your wedge.

Many amateur golfers use the same swing length with their wedges that they use with their driver. As a result, the ball pops way up into the air, compromising accuracy and distance control.

So then, what’s the correct swing length for golf wedge shots?

Let’s look at it like a clock. When you take a full swing, your hands typically go all the way back to an 11:00 or 11:30 position. For wedge shots, however, you should only hit about 10:00 at the top of your swing. That shorter swing length helps you hit a low, steady shot.

How to Hit Solid Wedge Shots: The Short Version

So let’s sum up.

The next time you’re on the course preparing to hit a wedge shot, you’re going to:

  • Think about the club you’re using and select a wedge with a lower loft.
  • Position the ball a little farther back in your stance—just behind center—and make sure there’s a little forward lean on the shaft at setup.
  • Focus on shaping your swing motion so it’s about ¾ the length of your regular full swing.
  • Your final swing thought should be making your best possible swing and trying to strike the ball in the center of the club face.

Make these simple changes and I promise you:

Your trajectory will come down, your speed will come down, and your ball will finish closer to the flag for shorter putts on the green . . . and fewer strokes between you and the cup.

Share Your Opinion

Do you feel like you have a better understanding of how to hit solid wedge shots? Have you been making any of these mistakes? Do you have a difference of opinion or some tips of your own to share?

Please jump into the comments and let us know what’s on your mind. We think of ourselves as a community here at USGolfTV, and we (and your fellow golfers!) want to know what you think.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey Todd
    I’m Edouard,i’m 12;6 handicap, and i want to tell some reactions face to the 5 videos series on shoirt game : Chipping, bunker shot, putting and pitching .

    5 : Bump and run. yes i like to use my PW or 9 to let roll the ball to the hole, and it’s a good challenge to find the target (1/4 in the air, 3/4 roll) and train.
    4 : Greenside bunker, i succeed 4/5 time with your suggestions (ball forwad, weight left, more loft with opened face and wrist ) so i have to train in humidity sand condition (more difficult, i’m trying to put the ball more in the middle…), and on the fairway bunker shot
    3 Putting with shoulders : it’s a good challenge at the beginning, but i’ve watched all your putting videos, and all the drills like lead foot putting, or glove drill for the shoulders, or pen drill, or 60/40 weight drill, lag puts drills with 5 balls, or 60/40 length putting drill, and face control 1mm drill, all they ‘ve been helping me to decrease from 35 puts by round to 31. So i’ve to train more to improve my round scores ( 5 times +10).
    2 : Chip shots : it was a renew idea,because my last coach (inline golf lesson at moncoachedegolf.com in France) suggested to put the hand forwad the ball. So it’s on going but i’haven’t already 100% success but i have to improve more and more time.
    1 Pitch shots : for the suggestion to focus on the distance landing, it’s ok. For the suggestions on this video : club selection ( SW 50° and 56°), ball position, and length and speed, it’s ok. But it was very hard to undersatnd the pitching set up, same rate hand and club face, no wrist , smooth angle of attack. I haven’t got SC200 but i’m trainig with 4 distances (3/4 PW 65m 70y, 3/4 SW56° 55m 60y, 1/2 PW 45m 50y and 1/2 SW 56° 35m 40y). I have good results with the spine on the green, but i haven’t success with my 15- 25m (20 30y) longer shots.
    What do you suggest ?

    I have one more question about ‘One less stroke” elesson, what is exactly the format and inside components ? (video, drills, theory, golf course management , mental ?)

    Sincerely

  2. I can not get the sound to play on your videos. All others work fine.

  3. Sorry to hear that Truman, I don’t believe we’ve ever had that issue brought to our attention before. How are you viewing the videos?

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