Know Your Wedges
Flynn McLain, GolfTEC teaching professional
Picture the following scenario: You're standing in the middle of the 18th
fairway. You're 100 yards away from the green, and your buddy is beating
you by one stroke. What should you do? Answer: Knock it stiff, and watch
him sweat out the next two shots knowing that you're well within the
agreed-upon "Gimmie" range. It's easier said than done, right? Wrong. Not
if you know your wedges.
Most golfers have a bag full of wedges; however, very few of them know
exactly how far they can hit each one. How can this be? There are two
factors that determine how close a golf shot gets to the hole; the first
is direction, and I'll give you two guesses at the second. So now that the
secret is out, here's your plan of action.
Take all of the wedges out of your bag. Some of them are mysteriously
named I'm sure, so to be safe just grab every club that's shorter than
your 9-iron. Once you've identified and collected your new best friends,
shut your trunk. The "Big Dog" will not be eating today.
Arm yourself with two buckets of range balls, a notepad, and your favorite
writing utensil. Now, comes the tricky part: finding a spot on the range.
You need to pick out a space that will allow you to hit at multiple
targets. People do not count as targets, so try the middle of the practice
tee. If the range is short on flags and target greens, pick out a few
trees or bushes along the boundary lines of the hitting area. The range
boy won't like you very much, but your next playing partners will.
Now, comes the really tricky part: determining yardages. This is easily
the most important step of the process, so no cheating! Use the provided
yardage markers whenever possible, as they are almost always accurate. If
you can't find any markers, use a hand-held device to get your distances.
There are several good ones out on the market; the mini-telescope that
your Grandmother gave you in high school is not one of them. If all else
fails, step the yardages off yourself. I wouldn't recommend doing this
while other people are hitting, so try to get to the range early for a
change. The average man's walking stride equals roughly one yard. As you
determine the yardage for each target, write it down on your trusty
Now you're ready to hit some shots, so crack those knuckles and prepare
for battle. The object here is to figure out exactly how far you hit each
wedge. It doesn't matter which one you start with, but do not put it down
until you are comfortable with the yardage. Start at the shortest target,
and take full swings. If you fly it with your first three shots, move to
the next yardage on your list. Repeat this process until you are throwing
darts at one of the targets. Once you've determined a distance for that
wedge, write it down and start over with the next one.
Congratulations, you now know the yardages for all of your wedges! Take
your trusty notepad out to the course, and put those wedges to work. Take
dead aim at the pins, and trust your yardages. One last note: Try to keep
the laughter to a minimum as you watch your competitors choke their scores
away. Remember, you used to be that guy.