Like a football team inside the Red Zone – threatening to put points on the board inside the opponent’s 20-yard line – golfers inside 125 yards of the hole are also expected to consistently score with lofted wedges in their hands. Be it a pitching wedge, sand wedge or lob wedge, golf inside the Scoring Zone morphs from a power game to a precision game. Hitting a wedge tight to the pin is all about distance and direction; it sounds simple, but weekend golfers, in particular, know it is a skill that is anything but routine.

Nick Jacobi, a PGA Master Professional based in Monroe, NC, provides valuable tips on improving your skills with the most lofted clubs.

  • The key to hitting wedges close is controlling your distance. The simplest way to do this is having a consistent setup and learning three different backswing lengths.
  • First, you setup should consist of choking down on the club, positioning the ball in the middle of your stance, placing more weight on your front foot and keeping it there, and having your hands ahead of the club head at address.
  • Next you want to learn three different backswing lengths.
  • Backswing length 1: Take the club back until your hands are about even with your pocket or until you almost have to hinge or set your wrists. If you set or hinge your wrists, you have taken the club back too far. Take the club back until your hands are no higher than your pocket and then follow all the way through with your hands over your front shoulder and your belt buckle left of target (right-handers).
  • Backswing length 2: Take the club back until your hands are about chest high, no higher, and you have a hinge with your wrists. Do not let your hands get above your chest and make sure you make a full follow through with your hands over your front shoulder and your belt buckle left of target (belt buckle right of target for left-handers).
  • Backswing length 3: Take the club back until your hands are even with your head. This should not be a full 100% back swing.  Make sure to have a full follow through with your hands over your front shoulder and your belt buckle left of target.
  • This gives you three different distances with each wedge you carry.
  • Remember that on all three of the different length backswings, the follow through should be the same. Have a full finish and get your belt buckle left of the target.
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