Using a 60 degree lob wedge with success is sometimes very difficult. Many amateurs like the idea of using this club, but find it difficult execute these delicate shots. It does not help watching players like Phil Mickelson use their lob wedge like scalpels on the golf course as if it was a natural extension of his body. But, I would suggest that his skill was rooted in hours of repetitive practice.
Recently, I came across a learning opportunity (I call them teaching moments so I remember them for future use) for successfully using your 60 degree wedge. The lob wedge (see infographics on wedges) is used near the green to quickly elevate your ball over difficult terrain to stop the ball quickly near the hole. This is easy to say, however there is a bit more to it.
This teaching moment happened on the par 5, 10th hole of Osprey Links Golf Course. It is a dogleg left that requires a drive of 250 yards uphill to successful navigate the turn towards the green. On this particular day, I was sitting 256 yards back from the green after my drive. My play was to hit my 3 wood because the wind was with me and the green was down hill. I hit my 3 wood well and was left with 15 yards on the short side of the green.
To set up the shot: my ball is 15 yards from the front of the green; the pin is 4 paces on the green; there is a lip rising 1 foot from the fairway to the green surface; there is a sprinkler head (the black spot short right of the pin) two paces short right of the green; there is a grass depression to the left that collects miss-hit golf balls.
Before selecting my lob wedge, I considered the following things:
- bump and run with my gap wedge. But quickly discarded this idea because of the previously mentioned hazards right before the green.
- A one hop / stop shot with my sand wedge. I thought about this for quite a bit, but dismissed it because of the location of the pin. A slight miss hit and I would have a 20 or 25 foot putt for birdie.
- Flop shot with my gap wedge to the pin. The flop shot was not something I was not prepared to do because my lie was a bit tight. But, my lob wedge was definitely the right club.
- I finally decided on using my lob wedge, but to hit the ball half way between the fringe and pin. This was a 17 yard wedge shot with very little release.
With the decision made on what shot to completed, it was time to execute it. This is how I use my lob wedge:
- I closed my stance so that my big toe on my back foot aligns 3 inches behind my heel of my front foot. The toes of each foot draw a line to my landing area.
- I opened my gap wedge a bit as if I was a sand trap.
- I distributed my weight 60/40 with the 60 being off my front foot.
- I visualize my shot several times and focus my attention my chosen landing area.
- I limit my wrist movement. I keep my hands quiet and let my shoulders drive the tempo of my swing. The back of my left hand followed through to the target.
- I follow through further than how far I draw the club back for my swing. This promotes solid contact through the ball.
As you can see from the picture above, I successfully completed the stroke. My ball landed about 2 feet short of my intended target, but it release as expected. I was left with a 3 foot uphill putt. For those keeping score, I sunk the putt!
My teaching moment for successfully using a gap wedge was broken down into 3 areas:
- First, deciding on using my lob wedge and committing to it
- Second, visualizing my shot and focusing on the landing area
- Last, executing the shot without hesitation.
These three things might not seem like much, but they encompass a great deal of effort. Using a lob wedge successfully takes mental effort and practice; with a little time on the practice area you will be surprised at how successful you can be with a lob wedge.
Do you use a lob wedge?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!