By Paul Myers
Other than your driver and your putter, no club in your bag is likely to see more action than your pitching wedge. You can use this club for full shots from the fairway and rough, for pitch shots from around the green, for bunker shots, and more. Safe to say, if you can gain a high level of control over the ball when it comes off your pitching wedge, you will be well on your way to playing excellent golf and shooting your career best scores.
The pitching wedge is not a difficult club to hit well, but that doesn’t mean you can just walk up to the ball and swing the club. All parts of the game of golf need to be practiced if any real improved is going to be experienced. Take a look at the three keys below to improve your performance with the all-important pitching wedge.
Key #1 – Center of the Stance
When hitting a full shot with your pitching wedge, place the ball right in the middle of your stance. This ball position will give you a great chance to hit nicely down through the shot without having to move your body awkwardly in either direction. The swing you make with a pitching wedge should be a short one, so there should be very little (or no) lateral movement. Simply turn your body away from the target in the backswing, and turn toward the target in the downswing. Executing that simple technique, while playing from a center ball position, will lead to consistent results.
Key #2 – Close the Face for a Pitch and Run
If you find your ball resting an awkward distance from the hole – say 40 – 50 yards – consider closing down the face of your pitching wedge to play a pitch and run back to the target. This technique will add plenty of run to the shot so you can land the ball on the front edge of the green (or even just off) and let it bounce and roll the rest of the way. When using this method, you should also choke down slightly on the grip of the club and place the ball near the back of your stance.
Key #3 – Watch the Spin
The backspin rate on shots hit with your pitching wedge is likely to be rather high, so you need to carefully watch how the ball reacts when it lands on the green early in a round. Is the ball spinning back toward you, or is it taking a big bounce forward? On soft greens, don’t be surprised if the ball actually does take one bounce and then start spinning back toward the front of the green. By carefully watching the reaction of the ball when it lands on the green on the first couple holes, you can make the necessary adjustments to your distance control as the round moves along.
Simply put, you aren’t going to be a good golfer if you can’t produce quality shots with your pitching wedge. This club is just too important to your overall success to remain a weak spot for very long. Spend practice time learning all of the ways you can use your pitching wedge and you will find that it is your best ally in the battle for lower scores.