Energize Your Short Game
With the Right Lob Wedge


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By Ken Lopez

What's the one shot most players would like to add to their game for lower scores?  If you answered a high, soft shot within about 60 yards of the green I think you'd be right.  Most mid to high handicap players want to know how to master the lob wedge.

From time to time you'll be faced with shots that require high carries over bunkers or water hazards to tight pin positions.  You could certainly hit those shots with an open faced sand wedge, but a lob wedge makes it much easier.  Lob wedges are used most commonly when players need very high trajectories and a lot of spin.

A good lob wedge can make all the difference…

Lob wedges come in lofts ranging from about 58* to 61*, and some "super" lob wedges come in lofts from 62* to 65*.  Because of its wide sole the lob wedge is sometimes used for high, soft sand shots.

The problem some of us run into is the low bounce angle on some lob wedges.  With their high lofts, low bounce lob wedges can become like shovels and I see a lot of players taking huge divots with them.

In the hands of a skilled player a lob wedge adds versatility and a new dimension to the short game.  If you're looking to add a lob wedge to your set but don't have much experience with one, follow these guidelines before making a purchase…

First, look for lob wedges with no more than 60* of loft. The higher the loft the harder it is to master.

Second, narrow your choices down to wedges with a bounce angle of at least 8*.  Bounce angles of 10* to 13* are preferable.
Why?  Added bounce makes it easier to play without digging too deeply into the turf.

Another benefit?  More bounce makes it useful as a sand wedge.  A low bounce lob wedge can be a tricky play from the sand.

Develop your technique for more effective wedge shots…

What's one of the biggest stumbling blocks to hitting the lob wedge?  Confidence.  It's easy to tighten up and that limits your range of motion.  The lob requires a soft touch; anxiety makes taking a good pass at the ball more difficult.

It is possible to master the high soft wedge shot.  Use these keys to help groove the right swing:

Keep your weight evenly balanced between your feet. Don't play the ball too far forward or too far backward in your stance.

Take a three quarter swing; don't take the club past parallel.

Try to feel your hands leading the clubhead at impact.

Make sure you keep accelerating through the ball.

The lob wedge does work… in the right situations…

The lob wedge is the right club when you're faced with shots that require high trajectories and very soft landings.  For flying over hazards and bunkers a lob wedge is a necessity.

Unless you need that extra carry, think twice before using a lob wedge. Harvey Penick was an advocate of chipping the ball whenever possible.  He felt using lower lofts to get the ball rolling as soon as possible was the best way to get closer to the hole.

You can easily prove this for yourself.  Stand off the green about 40 feet from the hole.  Try these two methods and see which gets the ball closer. First, lob the ball to the hole with a high trajectory.  Then roll the ball to the hole, getting it on ground as soon as possible.

My guess is you'll get it a lot closer by rolling it like a billiard ball.  When you put a lob wedge in your bag, use it when you really need to.  I see a lot of players trying to lob the ball when they might do better chipping it.

An extra wedge also changes set make-up…

Adding the lob wedge means you have to make a decision about which clubs to keep in your 14 club rotation.  Most players drop a long iron in favor of the added wedge.

What are the advantages?

That's easy.  Multi-wedge sets let you take full swings on tough yardage shots.  It's easier to make full swings with a more lofted club than to make partial swings with a less lofted club.  A full swing builds confidence, and increases distance control.  A good lob wedge can help you avoid an awkward situation when you're between clubs.

Summing things up…

Adding a lob wedge makes you more effective from within 60 yards of the pin.  When you miss greens, you're faced with short shots that require high carries.  In many cases the lob wedge will be your only effective weapon.

Choose a wedge with the right loft and bounce angle, then take some time to get accustomed to the higher loft.  Your one swing thought should be to accelerate through impact.  Do that, and hitting high, soft wedge shots becomes a lot easier.

Ken Lopez writes articles for Pure Impact Custom Golf. If you have questions, or want information on selecting custom golf clubs, you can contact him at: http://www.pureimpactgolf.com/golf/Default.asp
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