Mastering the Scoring Wedges

Statistics suggest that roughly 65% percent of a player’s shots during a round of golf will come from 100 yards and in. Granted, 43% of those shots are putts, but you still have to be able to put it close to the hole if you really want to score. Pitching covers shots from 10-30 yards. Scoring wedges include all shots between 30-100 yards.

A result between 3-10 feet with your scoring wedges is considered a successful result.
A result 3-10 feet from the flagstick is considered a successful result.

So why are these shots considered among the most difficult? Perhaps it’s because most players are uncomfortable with any swing requiring less than full force. Scoring wedges require exact distance control, and a lot of players tend to decelerate in order to dial in their distances. That makes it all the more difficult to get consistent clubface contact. Remember, shots with your scoring wedges require many of the same elements of the full swing, just in smaller doses.

Whether you utilize three or four wedges, distance control is key. Typically, you want the gap between wedges to be consistent (52, 56, and 60 degrees, for example). Motion and tempo should stay mostly the same, while the length of the backswing changes. Grip and address are similar to that of the full swing, alignment should be parallel left of the target, and the ball should be played in the middle of the stance if the lie is good. Here’s short game guru Dave Pelz talking about minding the gaps between your scoring wedges:

Backswing length and tempo should be consistent. Think of a clock. You want your hands to be at 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 on the backswing. After a slight pivot to the trail side and then to the lead side, you want to make sure that the forward swing matches that of the backswing. If you swing the club back to 8:00, you want your finish to be at 4:00, if you swing it back to 9:00, you want your finish to be at 3:00, and if you swing the club back to 10:00, you want your finish to be at 2:00. Because it’s a shorter swing, swing plane is key.

For precise distance control, think of the numbers on a clock.

Lie and playing conditions can also affect the way scoring wedges are played. If it’s windy, you should play the ball farther back in your stance. You may also want to select a club with less loft to keep the ball down. If the lie is poor, once again, you should also play the ball back in your stance. A ball that stops between 3 and 10 feet from the flagstick is considered a successful result even for the best players.

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