How to Use a Pitching Wedge

By James Roland

A pitching wedge is one of the more versatile clubs in your golf bag because it can hit high shots that can drop on the green with a little backspin or lower chip shots when you need to punch the ball onto the green and let it roll close to the hole. Mastering the various uses of your pitching wedge takes time and practice, but once your short game improves, your scores will drop significantly.

It's In the Swing

Take the club back only as far as you need to in approaching the green. A pitching wedge used from 120 yards might require a full swing to reach the green, while a chip shot from 10 yards off the green will only need a half-swing or less.

Follow through to mirror your backswing. Don't stop short once you hit the ball because you won't get the type of backspin or soft touch you want with the shot.

Base your swing on the loft of the pitching wedge. A 62-degree loft, for instance, will require a bigger swing to get the ball the same distance as a shorter swing with a 48-degree loft.

Watch Your Hands

Make sure you don't lead too much with your hands and drag the wedge behind them on the shot. Fight the tendency to push your hands forward on a short stroke because you're bound to make poor contact with the ball when you do.

Hinge your wrists on your backswing, then accelerate quickly to give the ball lots of loft approaching the green.

Turn your hands so the club face opens slightly and make an in-to-out swing.

Keep your hands firm even as you hinge your wrists. Lazy hands will not give you the control you need to get the ball close to the hole.

How to Hit It

Strike an inch or two behind the ball to get appropriate height on your pitch, but be careful not to dig in too hard and wind up hitting your divot farther than the ball.

Choose a wedge only when you're within range of the green instead of trying to be macho and smack a wedge shot that winds up short of the green, forcing you to hit another wedge shot.

Experiment with your backswing and wrist movement under various conditions and distances from the green to get a feel for how much club and how much muscle is needed to make those shots.

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