Teeing Off: Oh! Those wonderful wedges

There are three basic wedges: pitching, sand and lob. The difference is in the loft of the club. The pitching wedge is usually between 48 and 52 degrees; the sand wedge is 56 to 58 degrees; the lob wedge is 60 to 62 degrees.

Most proficient golfers and touring pros use all three wedges during a round. These are their scoring clubs. The nicest thing about using the wedges is the fundamental swing action is the same for all of them.

The pitching wedge is used from 75 to 100 yards out from the green; the sand wedge, from 35 to 75 yards; and the lob wedge from approximately 30 yards and closer. Variations in the length of the back swing when using the pitching or the sand wedge also make it applicable for shorter shots.

Remember this basic rule for all three: The longer the distance, the longer the backswing. Rarely does the backswing need to go past waist high. With a shorter backswing, a player can accelerate through the ball towards the target. Most poor shots result from a deceleration through impact caused by overswinging on the backswing.

Concentrate on keeping your head behind the ball and strike the ball on the downswing. Don’t be afraid to “chokeon the shaft of the clubs on shorter shots. You’ll find this will give you much more control.

Get to know and enjoy your wedges through practice. Try several ball positions from your left heel back to your right heel. Then try opening the clubface from “square” at impact, to 10 degrees open, then 20 degrees, on various shots.

After a few of these practice sessions, fear of using the wedge will disappear. You’ll be well on your way to removing all anxieties if you miss a green.