Scoring With The Sand Wedge

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Published: 07th July 2009
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The sand wedge gets no respect. Many weekend golfers use it just for getting out of greenside bunkers. That's because it's hard to hit from the fairway. Even veteran golfers sometimes have problems hitting it from the fairway. But in the hands of a skilled player, the sand wedge is a potent offensive weapon that can help dramatically lower your scores and chop strokes off your golf handicap.

The key to transforming the sand wedge into a scoring club, as I tell students taking my golf lessons, is understanding how best to use it for full shots from the fairway and for touch shots around the green. Learning how to hit a sand wedge in these situations takes time and practice. It also takes concentration. But it's worth it. If you looking to take your golf game to another level, the sand wedge is just what the doctor ordered.

Getting Out Of Trouble

Slashing strokes off your golf handicap means making the right decisions. It's also means not compounding your mistakes. For example, weekend golfers who hit bad drives often compound their mistakes by taking a 5-iron or hybrid and trying to blast their way out of trouble, which is difficult if the rough is deep. Mis-hitting the shot, they find themselves still in deep rough facing another tough shot.

You have two goals when you hit into trouble. The first is finding a way to get out of trouble and onto the fairway with the least amount of risk. The second is hitting the ball solidly. A sand wedge helps you achieve both goals. It's leading edge cuts through deep rough, enabling you to hit the ball cleanly and solidly. Next time you're in trouble, consider the sand wedge. It's a sure-fire way of getting out of trouble.

Hitting Approach Shots

The sand wedge is also ideal for hitting approach shots. With 56 degrees of loft, it provides precision when you need it the most. When combined with a pitching wedge (48 degrees) and a loft-wedge (62 degrees), it is a key component of a three-club system for getting it close. For additional precision, add a gap wedge (52 degrees). Learn to hit these wedges with short, medium, and long swings, and you'll have a great way of hitting the green from anywhere inside of 100 yards.

To hit fairway wedge shots, you must rotate the clubface open, just like you do with any full shot. Also, learn to trust the loft on your club. Resist the urge to try and help the ball in the air by focusing on your finish position, not on impact. For example, it you want to hit a 70 percent shot with your wedge, focus on finishing with a follow-through slightly shorter than a full-wedge follow-through, not on what happens to the ball.

Hitting Shots Close To The Green

The sand wedge works well for delicate shots around the green. These are shots you can't afford to mis-hit because they can cost you strokes. To hit them with a sand wedge, you must learn to control trajectory with the club. You can learn to hit wedge shots low or high by making some simple setup adjustments, instead of changing the way you swing.

For a low shot, strengthen your grip (turn your hands away from the target), move the ball back in your stance, and close your shoulders. Keep the clubface aimed at the target. For a high shot, weaken your grip (turn your hands toward the target), move the ball forward in your stance, and open your shoulders. Again, keep the clubface aimed at the target. The club follows your shoulder line and produces the right loft.

One Drill For The Sand Wedge

Many drills teach you how to hit a sand wedge. But if you have time to practice only one, use the Two Tee Drill:

To grove a shallower path into the ball, take a tee and break it in half. Stick the pointy half in the ground an inch behind the ball, angled at the target. Take a second tee and stick in the ground an inch in front of the ball, also angled at the target. Now hit practice shots, clipping both tees from the grass.

If you're swing is too steep, you'll catch only the second tee. If you're swing is too shallow, you'll catch only the first tee. Hit both tees and you're hitting it pure.

Don't disrespect the sand wedge. It's more versatile than you think. In addition to a greenside bunker, use it for getting out of the rough, hitting approach shots inside of 100 yards, and executing delicate shots around the green. Master the sand wedge and you'll have a great tool for lopping strokes off your golf handicap.

Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros. He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. Free weekly newsletter available with the latest golf tips, lessons and instructions.

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