3 Key Drills for Great Wedge Play

Far too many golfers struggle with their wedge play. I see it all the time! In this article and video I have dug deep and come up with my three favorite drills for you to practice if you'd like to get better from close range. Take a look...

Impact Drag Drill

  • Using an alignment rod in lieu of a club take your normal pitching address position
  • Place the tip of the rod on the ground about 3 feet behind where the ball would be
  • Keeping the arms extended, rotate and elevate the lead shoulder to get the rod through impact

Pitching Draw Drill

  • Tee the ball up and place an alignment rod between the ball and the target
  • The objective is to get the ball to draw around the rod
  • Have the handle traveling up and in while the clubhead travel down and out for draws

9 Ball Trajectory Drill

  • Using nine balls to develop skill and adaptability
  • Hit the first three balls to three different targets with your stock trajectory
  • The second three balls are hit with a slightly higher trajectory to different targets
  • The final three are hit with a lower trajectory to different targets as well

My hope is that these drills will help to upgrade your technique, develop your skill around the greens and ultimately help you become a more well-rounded golfer.

Thanks for reading/watching and if you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit.

The Truth about Divots

Demonstrating the Impact Drag Drill

Demonstrating the Impact Drag Drill

I think divots are over-rated. They are not integral to great ball striking and they certainly don't give us as much information pertaining to the swing that led to the divot as we have been led to think. And to think that I used to love them, I used to encourage all my students, even ladies, to hit down and take divots...

Times have changed! TrackMan has shown me that far more golfers hit down too much than those who don't hit down enough. The "hit down" mantra has been flogged to death.

This video I filmed in conjunction with Revolution Golf will give you some idea as to what to look for as you work towards an improved and shallower strike on the ball.

As Martin Chuck so aptly said in this very good follow up video, "We're looking for bacon strips, not pork chops!" A shallow strike will improve the crispness of your strike - give it a try.

Thanks for reading along.

TrackMan Teaches the Teacher

Five years ago I thought I knew just about all there was to know about ball flight and teaching golf. Then I started using TrackMan and my, how very quickly my eyes were opened. I came to realize that I had a long way to go, not only in truly understanding ball flight, but in understanding golfers and what their tendencies might be.

I think it's important to understand that TrackMan will not teach anything - it is purely a measuring device. A tool that better allows the teacher to perform their job. It allows me to diagnose a golfer's problems more quickly and start making improvements without any doubt as to what is causing a golfer's poor shot pattern. Once the technology has helped me diagnose a problem I then start using it to inform me how my recommended changes are working - if at all. If those numbers are not improving I'll change my approach very quickly.

TrackMan has taught me so much about ball flight, but it has also opened my eyes to patterns that exist for almost all golfers. Here are a few nuggets that myself and fellow TrackMan users Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton, Tom Stickney have noticed over the years:

Strike Point:

  • Where you strike the ball on the face plays a far bigger role in determining the flight of the shot than what was previously believed
  • As a result heel and toe misses can lead people down a road of trying to fix something that isn't broken

Advice - Use Dr. Scholl's Odor X footspray to mark the face and get a better understanding of where you are striking the ball on the clubface.

Swing Appearance:

  • The two dimensional appearance of the swing on video is not what determines the flight of the ball (Swing direction vs 3D club path)
  • The look of a golf swing has very little to do with the message the clubhead relays to the golf ball
  • Better players have to swing way more left than they often feel in order to hit predictable fades
  • You do not have to roll your hands to hit draws

Advice - Don't get too caught up in the look. It's all about the physics at impact, so always go for function over form.

Angle of Attack:

  • The angle of attack is hugely important in determining the shape, distance and trajectory of any shot
  • Most golfers hit down too much while many of the best golfers tend to have a shallower strike on the ball
  • A positive or upward angle of attack has a huge effect on tee shot distance for slower speed golfers

Advice - Almost all golfers should be working towards a shallower more "sweep-like" strike on the ball. With the driver you should learn to hit up as the gains are too great to ignore.

Shot Shape:

  • The clubface is primarily responsible for the launch of any shot
  • The loft of the face at impact (dynamic loft) will largely determine the launch angle of any shot
  • On full swings the launch angle is often lower than you might expect it to be
  • The clubpath is primarily responsible for the curvature of any shot

Advice - to hit draws (and most of us should) we need an in to out clubpath. To improve the launch you either need to change the loft of the club or improve the loft delivered at impact.

The Human Element:

  • It is all too rare to meet a man who hits the ball as far as they think they do
  • Or who swings the driver as fast as they think they do
  • Mention clubspeed to any golfer, male or female, and there's a 95% chance the next swing will be faster
  • While there are patterns, anything and everything is possible

Advice - check your ego at the door. You'll start shooting better scores when you plan to hit the ball the distance you're capable of hitting it.

TrackMan is a fanatstic tool - one that guides the teacher to what the problems are and then vets the quality of their solution. As a player I believe you will find it to be a feel machine. If you've had a first rate lesson you should leave with a clear understanding of what the problem was and the feel required to overcome it.

If you happen to be on Twitter please follow Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton and Tom Stickney - great guys, knowledgeable teachers and you won't regret it.

Thank you for reading and as always your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

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Pitching Truths

Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker

As many of you may be aware I have done a tremendous amount of research on pitching the last few years. My research continues and I wanted to share a few important truths regarding this often misunderstood stroke:

  • Great pitchers generally take very little divot, flight the ball low and create high spin rates
  • Lower trajectory shots are substantially easier to gauge than higher ones
  • When struck correctly lower trajectory shots will have more spin than higher lofted ones
  • Most golfers perform better when pitching with their second most lofted club (SW vs LW)
  • There are two controllable ways to stop a golf ball - high spin rate and a steep land angle
  • Thin shots have more spin than you might think
  • The quality of the clubface to ball interaction (friction) is primary in generating spin
  • The quality of the lie plays a big role in determining the clubface to ball interaction
  • The optimal lie for amazing pitches is a fairly tight, downgrain lie
  • Any moisture that gets between the face and ball will decrease friction and thus increase launch angle and reduce spin
  • Sand between the face and the ball will increase friction and thus lower launch angle and increase spin
  • When practicing it is important to keep a wet towel handy to clean the face after every few shots - don't use a tee
  • Older clubs with worn down grooves will never spin the ball as much as a fresh wedge (all else being equal)
  • Premium golf balls flight better and spin more than inexpensive golf balls
  • The optimal technique is based almost entirely around managing the club to ground interaction or angle of attack
  • Controlling what the handle does through impact is vital in managing the angle of attack
  • A club path that tracks from from in to out will most often lead to cleaner strikes and thus lower trajectory and more spin
  • Where a golfer seeks to add loft they also add effective bounce. Here the grind/shape of the sole, will play a bigger role
  • For stock. and thus lower flighted shots the bounce plays less of a role than you might imagine

I have found there to be a multitude of different, and somewhat unusual techniques that work well for certain individuals. My objective has been to find a pitching technique that works best for the majority of golfers. I have found a technique that fits the bill and I am able to explain it simply and vividly.

More reading:

Wedges and Water | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part I | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II | Andrew Rice Golf

Ultimate Spin Wedge Shootout | Andrew Rice Golf

Please note that I will be producing a video on pitching that will be for available on my website in the Fall. I had previously indicated it would be available in the Summer, but I want to make sure I have the best product available for you, thus the delay. The video will explain all my findings including what I have found to be the optimal pitching technique...stay tuned!

Better Shots - Out of the Rough

There seem to be so many different formulas when it comes to getting out of rough I thought I would share my philosophy in an attempt to simplify your approach.  It all really depends on the quality of the lie, because even in very long rough, it's still possible to get decent access to the back of the ball.

Here are a few examples:

In this situation the clubhead needs to get so far down into the thick grass that most of the velocity created in the swing will be dissipated.  The challenge here is not only getting the clubface on the ball, it is getting the ball over/through the grass in front of it.  I would always use a very lofted club here (9 iron max) and plan on getting the ball back in play.  Hit down more by moving the ball slightly back in your stance and thus steepening the angle of attack and do not be greedy here.

In this scenario the ball is perched on top of the longer grass and we're smiling.  Be careful though as this is a perfect lie for a flyer.  A flyer occurs when the grass does not slow the clubhead down through the hit and just enough of it gets caught between the ball and the face.  As this grass/matter fills the grooves at impact and gets trapped between the ball and the face, there is very little grip on the ball and as a result the ball launches closer to the dynamic/delivered loft (higher) and spins very little.  Ever heard of "high launch, low spin"? That's what we're looking for with our driver, but not with an 8 iron from 130 yards and explains why you airmailed the clubhouse from the 9th fairway last week.

With this type of lie also watch for hitting under the ball.  When it's perched on top of the grass like this try to view it as being on a high tee - an easy one to swing under!  Make your practice swings where you just brush the very top of grass and duplicate that during the actual shot.

This is a tough one - it doesn't look bad, yet the hard part is deciding which way it will come out.  It could be hot, yet it could also come out very soft and dead like the first example.  The best thing you can do here is take a few extra seconds to assess the lie and then commit fully to your decision.  Make the call and be committed.

When hitting out of very long grass (ankle/knee high) remember that the long blades of grass will get to the shaft and hosel first.  As they wrap around this lead part of the club it will slow down dramatically, causing the face to deloft and the toe of the club to close.  Notice how hard Phil Mickelson is working to keep the face from closing in the picture at the top of the page.  Having hit out of the fescue more than a few times at Atlantic Golf Club this summer I know this for a fact - take a lofted club, aim a little right, swing hard and don't ever be greedy.

Should you have had enough trouble getting out of the rough and you'd like to attend a sporting event or concert Click Here

Additional Resources: 

Hitting Out of the Rough | Golf Lesson | Golf Tips

Impact Drill: How to Stop Scooping

This is a version of a drill that I have presented many times, but each time I use it, it impresses upon me the importance of a proper strike on the golf ball. In using Trackman I have come to learn that the correct attack angle (an upward or downward hit) with an iron should be anywhere between 2 and 5 degrees down. If you have ever topped shots or alternated between thin and heavy strikes, you are more than likely getting scoopy through impact and this drill is right up your alley.

This drill will get you to do the following through impact:

  • Get the weight shifted onto the front foot
  • Lead the hands ahead of the clubhead
  • Hit down on the ball
  • Take divots in the right place - after the ball!

All you need is a small piece of one of those swim noodles that all the kids like to use in the pool. Secure the strip of noodle into the ground by pressing tees through the center as illustrated. It may take a little experimenting, but eventually you'll find the appropriate distance to line the balls up from the noodle. Before long you should start to see a consistent line of divots occurring on the target side of the golf ball - a positive sign! If you find yourself hitting a few of the dreaded "hosel rockets" your grip is too weak; Essentially you now need to scoop the face in order to square the clubface through impact. Get it stronger!

Some additional drills to help with impact: