Flight Your Wedges Down To Hit It Tight

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Last year, The Northern Trust was held at Glen Oaks Club and viewers were treated to an awesome playoff between Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Dustin was able to manage par after a bad drive on the last hole of regulation. Spieth had to watch as DJ’s par putt crept over the edge of the cup, sending the reigning Open Champion into overtime against one of the strongest players off the tee who now had a superior wedge game to balance his monster drivers.

DJ was not going to hold back on the playoff hole, taking the most aggressive line possible over water, he launched the ball 341 yards and split the fairway. Jordan was forced into a safer play and had over 170 yards left into the flag. 

Dustin’s drive left him less than 90 yards, and with a new-found wedge game, he stepped up and stuffed it.

Let’s take a look at how he has learned to throttle back, but still throw darts, just one facet of what makes his game the best in the world.

The Setup

  • Dustin was faced with a partial wedge shot, uphill, and to a back hole location. Many amateurs will place the ball back in the stance and hammer down, sending in a screamer with too much spin. One key to this shot is a center-of-the-stance ball position, this will ensure that the attack angle of the wedge is not too steep. If we were to get too steep, the impact would impart extra backspin and the ball would land and work away from the back pin.
  • Another attribute of the best wedge players is a relaxed address, and more importantly, soft arms and hands. It is tough to catch on TV, but the pros grip the club with minimal pressure and feel their arms hang loosely at address. This is key to maintaining rhythm and also controlling the length of the backswing and follow-through, which is what we all need to execute properly to pull off the less-than-full distance wedge shots.

The Swing

  • Dialed-in wedges are all about controlling the body and arms. To bring a full wedge shot down by five to 15 yards, work on limiting your backswing to ¾ length and slightly shorter.
  • Second, the follow-through should mirror the backswing in terms of length. This forces full extension of the arms and club down the target line, while also helping with solid contact.
  • Pros and hacks alike can benefit from thinking of their arms like the arms on a clock and the stopping point of their hands will represent the time on the clock. For Dustin’s wedge shot, we see he took his hands to 10 o’clock and his follow-through was the same.
  • Controlling the follow-through helps to minimize the spin and control the trajectory of the shot as well. If you need a shorter wedge shot that flies higher just swing to a high full finish.