I doubt there is a golfer on the planet – professional or amateur – that doesn’t have a favourite wedge in their bag. If you need to make an up-and-down to save par or want to attack the flag for a shot at birdie, it’s the one you pull more than any other.
The wedge that allows me to play the greatest variety of shots is my 56-degree sand wedge. Whether I have a full swing from 80 metres, need to play a pitch shot from 50 or have a shot around the green, I can use my sand wedge for all three shots by making some minor adjustments.
Here are three ways to help you love your favourite wedge even more >>>
The carry of a full swing with my sand wedge is about 95 to 100 metres, but I rarely hit it that hard. I like to have just a nice, smooth swing that carries between 75 and 85 metres.
If I find myself in a bad spot or I’m laying up on a par 5, I’ll try to play to my sand wedge distance, which is 80 metres from the pin. If it’s longer or shorter, then I’ve got lob wedge (70 metres) and my 52-degree wedge (90 metres) to use with the same swing and which will have the same flight without having to change anything. The setup for this shot is the same for the other full swings I have with my irons.
I try to keep everything relaxed with soft hands, soft arms and just swing it.
The 50-Metre Pitch
If I am 45 to 50 metres away and have a fair bit of green to work with, I’ll use my sand wedge to play a shot that pitches short of the flag and rolls out.
The only change I make for this shot is to put the ball back in my stance ever so slightly [left]. That produces a small forward shaft lean and helps to deliver a slightly lower ball flight.
My stance is also narrower for this shot and I’m closer to the ball. By standing closer to the ball it allows the body to better rotate through the shot, whereas if you’re a bit further out you have to be careful not to get lazy with your body.
I will usually use my sand wedge for every shot around the green where I have a fair bit of green to work with. If I have to land something softer that stops more quickly, that’s when I’ll go back to the lob wedge.
To play a chip-and-run that checks and then releases, I’ll play the ball further back in my stance – almost back to my back foot [left] – which helps to promote a downward strike and generate more spin.
Cameron Smith looks about as young as Harry Potter, and there’s a definite ‘wizardry’ to his wedge play on tour. So far in the 2018-2019 US PGA Tour season, the 25-year-old from Brisbane has compiled an impressive set of statistics where wedge play is concerned. See graph (below) for his keys stats.
One more thing… Find your wedge tempo
The swing speed for my 9-iron is about 95 to 96 miles per hour. Before every round I use Trackman to find a swing speed with my wedges of 68mph, which is something my coach Grant Field and I have done since the early days. It’s a comfortable swing; a smooth, relaxed type of swing. You’re not trying to smash it, just put a swing on it that feels nice.
During my warm-up I will hit 10 balls with each wedge to find that nice, smooth tempo. I try to keep everything relaxed with soft hands, soft arms and just swing it.
I’ve always enjoyed being creative around the green and if amateurs spent more time there than on the driving range, in my opinion they could save as many as 10 shots a round. We play with guys in pro-ams all the time who flush it but when they get around the green they’ve got no idea. It’s frustrating for me watching them; I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for them.
Work on finding a nice tempo that you can use with all of your wedges and you’ll start shedding shots from your handicap in no time.
Cameron Smith spoke with Tony Webeck