Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #91

Click play to listen to Greg’s blog, or, read below.

We’ve been talking about the wedge. Next to the putter, it’s probably the most useful club in the bag. Last week we focused on the pitching wedge and we told you the sand wedge was not invented by but was popularized by the squire, the great Gene Sarazen.

The sand wedge has a deceiving name. I probably use it as much from the fairway or greenside rough a I do from the sand. A sand wedge or 56-degree wedge has the widest sole of any wedge which provides the greatest amount of bounce to allow the club head to glide through sand and avoid digging in. Sometimes you want to dig in to the sand to extract your ball from a buried lie for instance. In that case I would use a pitching wedge, but for most greenside sand traps a 56-degree wedge works nicely.

Take a close look at the head and practice slicing the greenback out of the sand. Another way to visualize the shot is to pretend like you are splashing someone in the pool. You wouldn’t chop down in the water, you would cup your hand and skim the water in their face. If done correctly the ball should lob softly in the air, take one bounce and stop dead. The closer you are to the lip of the trap, to the bank of the green or to the hole, the more you should open the blade of the sand wedge. For a short flop shot, just open the blade to where it is parallel to the sand. For a shot all the way across the green, open the blade slightly or use a pitching wedge which will run more after it hits the green. Remember when you open the blade the ball will also tend to slice to the right so aim a little left with an open stance and splash the ball out.

A similar shot can be hit from the rough around the green. If the ball is really down in there, the weight of the sand wedge will bail you out. Open the blade and drop the club on the back of the ball. You won’t be able to get a lot of spin from the heavy grass so allow for 10-20 feet of roll.

The sand wedge from the fairway is also a good scoring shot. The average golfer can hit a full sand wedge 60-80 yards. I find it particularly useful from 40-50 yards because you can swing a little harder with it from that distance than you can a pitching wedge. I don’t know how many times I’ve hit a 50-yard pitching wedge 20 or 30 feet past the hole or even over the green. Like they say in tennis, that’s an unforced error. There’s no excuse for that if you carry a sand wedge. You just have to practice it so that you hit the ball first. Hitting a couple of inches behind a sand wedge will leave you short of the green. Hitting the top half of the ball with a 56 will result in a line drive soaring over the green.

So practice and hit ’em straight!

More Golf Blogs