Todd Sones: Learn to Trap the Ball This Winter

Great players accelerate through impact and finish down and through.
Great players accelerate through impact and finish down and through.

Todd Sones is a Golf Digest Top 50 and Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor who serves on the Golf Academy of America’s National Advisory Board. He’s also a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach. Usually, you can find Todd teaching at White Deer Run Golf Club outside Chicago, but in the frigid winter months, he moves indoors to the Buffalo Grove Golf & Sports Center.

Believe it or not, you can still work on your golf swing indoors when its cold outdoors. In this week’s tip, a 9-to-3 shot, Todd dives into a few fundamentals that will really help your ball striking. Learning how to trap the ball with half swings off the turf (or mat) at impact can dramatically improve your mini-wedge play.

This video will only stay up for about a week, but you can gain access to this tip and others simply by becoming an Impact Golf Member at For posterity, I’ve attempted to transcribe portions of it below:

Todd says working inside is a great way to work on your touch for half shots. A lot of people struggle because they don’t practice them. They never really work on a half swing, and then when they’re faced with a 50 or 60-yard shot out on the golf course, they don’t really know how hard to swing the club. You’ve got to practice the shot and indoors off a mat isn’t a bad place to work on your distance control.

The most common thing Todd sees with many amateurs is that they don’t have enough backswing, and they have too much follow-through. It’s like lag putting where the putter doesn’t go back far enough, and you have to force the putter through on the other side.

“You look at the great wedge players on Tour,” says Todd, “and they pretty much have an equal back and forward swing. It’s balanced like a clock: 9-t0-3, 10-to-2, or even 8-to-4.”

When you work on controlling your distance with your wedges, simply make sure that if your lead arm goes to 10, your trail arm finishes at 8. If it goes to 9, it should finish at 3. Your stance should also get narrower as the shot gets shorter. For a full wedge, your stance should be just inside the width of your shoulders. That means for a 30-yard shot, your stance should be pretty narrow. Narrow your stance as you’re shortening your swing so your stance width matches the length of your backswing.

It also helps to grip down on the club about half an inch. Says Todd, “With most players, you’ll see a short backswing and a big follow through where they’re forcing the club. The problem is when you go from low to high, usually you tilt back and skull the shot.” Todd would rather have you feeling like you’re going high to low, striking down on the golf ball.

In the short game, great players accelerate through impact and finish down and through instead of up and back. Make sure that you strike down and through the golf ball. If you work on your distance control now, when you get out on the golf course in the spring, you’ll be able to handle those 50 and 60-yard shots.


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