How to hit it solid – and get the distance right.

When tour players drive the ball in the rough, they can usually still get it to the green. But that changes at most US Opens, where deep rough often requires hacking out after a bad drive, leaving a wedge in. And when those wedge shots are 40, 50, 60 yards, even the pros don’t like them.

The secret to playing a half-wedge is committing to the hit. I see a lot of players make a long backswing, and then quit on it at impact. Or they try to baby it and end up in a front bunker. Instead, make a shorter backswing that will prompt you to accelerate through the ball, which improves contact and distance control.

Start with the ball in the centre of your stance and your weight 60-40 on your front foot. Then make that shorter backswing and put a firm strike on the ball, keeping up your speed to the finish. Let your lower body turn through the shot – don’t freeze your legs and steer the club with your hands and arms. Your body should move like it does on a full swing, just on a smaller scale.

One last thought: return the loft. Whatever your clubface looks like at address, return the same amount of loft at impact. No chopping down on it, and no flipping your hands to try to get the ball up. Returning the loft is a great image for these little wedges. – with Peter Morrice

Butch Harmon, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nevada.