Lowering our golf score is the primary goal of most golfers. Everyone likes to talk about how they conquered the course on a particular day, but for some of us those days are rare. For example, over the past two golf seasons, I recorded 117 rounds of golf at Golf Canada. Although I did not record all my rounds for various reasons, this number is a good sample for our discussion. Of those rounds, 53% or 63 rounds were in the 70s. Of those, 1 was under par, 1 was par, and 4 were 1 over par. So the number of spectacular rounds worth discussing, in my view, is very small.
These numbers may seem impressive but in reality, the consistency of my game is due to two factors, using the correct wedge around the green and consistent putting. I can say that my improved putting is a direct result of playing the ball closer to the pin after an errant approach shot. Choosing the correct wedge around the green is the focus of this article.
Recently, I asked a question about which wedge was your go-to club around the green. This is the one club, when all else fails, you know that the odds are in your favour if you use it. Here is what everyone said:
I also use my 56 degree sand wedge as my go-to club around the green, but this is a recent change. Previously, I used my 52 degree gap wedge, but for some reason I made the change last year and I feel more comfortable making those delicate shots required to keep my stroke count down.
Having a go-to club is important, however understanding which wedge to use during which situation is the real trick to lower our golf scores. I carry four wedges and here is how I generally use them:
- Pitching Wedge. A pitching wedge has a loft of about 48 degrees. This club comes with most sets and is used for long approach shots. The distance varies, but I suggest that it is used by most amateurs from 130 yards or closer.
- Gap Wedge. Gap wedges range from 50 and 54 degrees. The distance the ball travels varies from about 110 to about 75 yards. It allows for a bit of action on the ball in combination with reasonable distance for approach shots.
- Sand Wedge. Sand wedges range from 54 to 58 degrees. Many players use a sand wedge for some approach shots as well as sand shots.
- Lob Wedge. Lob wedges range from 58 and 62 degrees. The lob wedge allows for a greater amount of spin and is used to fly over hazards or when you are pin hunting.
The important aspect of selecting the correct wedge is understand your surroundings. Part of knowing your surroundings is understanding how each of your wedges performs in long grass, wet grass, the fairway, over a hazard, etc. This knowledge comes with focused practice of difficult lies.
The next step in the process is building confidence in our short game. The focused practice in less than ideal positions helps build our confidence when using the different wedges. In many cases, this newly gained confidence is transferable to the course.
One of the pitfalls of using all your wedges is not experimenting with different wedges in the various situations. It is important not to let fear prevent you from playing the right wedge; yes mistakes will be made, but eventually you will find success. When I first used my lob wedge, I was always short. I was afraid to skull the ball if I hit the ball too hard. After persistent practice and using the lob wedge around the green, I gained the confidence to hit the ball over hazards, use it when I was short-sided, and out of the rough within 20 yards of the green. Now, I am confident to use my lob wedge when required.
It is impossible for me to tell you exactly which wedge is best in which situation. I do not know your game or understand your skill level. However, there is one thing I do know, using the correct wedge at the right time will lower your golf scores. And focused practice with all your wedges will be the first step to success around the green.
I figure if I keep practicing I will be able to hit shots like these:
What do you think?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!