JT Poston is really good at a really important skill: hitting wedge shots.
It’s a skill that’s important for literally every level of golfers. Pros need to be good at wedge shots because, basically, every other pro is good at wedge shots. Lots of pros stick lots of wedge shots and make lots of birdies as a result. If you’re not keeping up with them by doing the same, you’re falling behind.
For amateur golfers, wedge shots are important for a simpler reason: we miss lots of greens, especially the higher handicap you have. Just as wedges are important scoring clubs for making birdies, they’re the key to saving par for amateurs.
Which brings us to JT Poston, who last PGA Tour season assumed the mantle from another JT (Justin Thomas) as the best wedge player from the crucial 75 to 100-yard proximity statistic. He ranked sixth in wedge shots inside 100 yards, and 14th in wedge shots from 50 to 125 yards.
In short, Poston is one of the best wedge players on tour—if not the best. So a few weeks ago, I asked him the one question I ask anyone who is good at basically anything: how does he do it?
Here’s what he said.
The one-third rule
There’s no getting around it: you’re going to need to practise wedge shots to get good at wedge shots. Generally speaking, the more the better, but the good news is that it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. You can make incremental progress with your wedges just by adjusting the time you do spend on the range, especially during your warm-ups, which is when Poston does most of his wedge work.
“If I’m hitting balls for an hour, I probably spend 20 to 25 minutes hitting wedge shots up to 130 yards,” Poston says. “I hit a lot of these shots as I warm up. It’s good for tempo for contact and tempo,” he says. “You’ll start developing a great feel for it.”
That’s what I call the one third rule, and it’s a good benchmark for the rest of us: 20 minutes in an hour equates to exactly one third of your range session. A 30-minute range session would mean 10 minutes hitting wedge shots. A 15 minute warm-up means five minutes hitting wedges. It will feel like an incredibly long time as you’re doing it, but it’ll be worth it. So the next time you hit the range to warm up, spend a third of your time hitting shots inside 130 yards or so.
Lots of small windows
So you’re on the range and a devoting a third of your time hitting wedge shots. Good job! But don’t fall into the trap of hitting lots of shots from 50 yards, say, then 100 yards, then moving on.
Instead, vary your distances as much as you can. It’s a form of random practice that has proven really beneficial. Start with a few short shots, then a couple that are slightly longer, then some slightly longer than that, and so on. The windows should be tight and close together.
“I work within five-yard increments,” Poston says. “60, 65, 60, 75, 80 yards…I’ve gotten to the point where I can do a pretty good job in each little window.”
There are lots of different ways to hit wedge shots. Some players are incredible precise, measuring their backswing by the inch to adjust their distances. Poston opts—and suggests — a different route. Using the two methods above to dial in your feel. It will take time, but it’ll start becoming second nature. And when it does, it’ll give you a sense of confidence that you will last.
“You’ll start developing a great feel for it,” he says. “And when you do there won’t be any doubt. No second-guessing.”