Hello Everyone –
This past week we held our annual short game school.  Had a dozen students who worked a few days on the MOST IMPORTANT part of their golf game for improved scoring.  As we worked through the two days, it reminded me of an article I wrote a few years ago about rating your wedge game.  Thought it would be a good time to reprint the article so everyone (new and past) can rate their wedge game potential and ways they can improve their wedge game and hence their scoring.
As golf course maintenance improves and the golfer’s expectations of greens increase, greens have become harder and faster over the past years.   Think of greens 15 / 20 years ago compared to today’s greens….. it is more important than ever to be able to create spin on the golf ball to be able to score.
So, I decided to write a practice tip that will let you rate your wedge game potential. This rating will show you where you currently stand (potential to create spin / have a great wedge / scoring game) and will also show you where you can improve your wedge game.
There are 9 areas – each is to be rated on a scale of 0 to 3.  Keep a running count and finally a total.
Creation of Spin:
The 3 major factors that affect spin are:
1.  Angle of approach and club head speed.
2.  Type of wedge (metal) the club(s) is made of.
3.  Type of golf ball you are playing.
1.  How much Divot do you take when you hit a pitch or wedge shot?
         0 – No divot,
         1 – Bruise / scrape the grass,
         2 – Take a divot but not every time,
         3 – Take a divot (need to replace grass or fill in with sand) every time.
2.  How much Speed to you create?
         0 – Hit pitching wedge less than 60 yards
         1 – Hit pitching wedge 60 to 90 yards
         2 – Hit pitching wedge 90 to 120 yards
         3 – Hit pitching wedge more than 120 yards
3.  Do you carry a Lob Wedge (58* or more loft) and Sand Wedge (54* or more loft) in your golf bag?
         0 – No, I don’t carry a Lob or Sand Wedge (or don’t know).
         1 – I carry only a Sand Wedge
         2 – I carry only a Lob Wedge
         3 – I carry both a Sand and Lob Wedge.
4.  What type of Wedge (Lob and / or Sand Wedge) to you hit?
         0 – One not set up for maximum spin (example – wedges that came with full set – not “specialized” wedges)
         1 – Wedges set up for maximum spin with worn out grooves (example Titleist Vokey Wedges, Callaway Forged Wedges, etc..)
         2 – Wedges set up for maximum spin with good / new grooves.
         3 – Wedges set up for maximum spin with good / new grooves with additional factors adding to spin (spin milled, rusty, etc..)
5.  Were your wedges fit to you for length, lie angle, shaft flex, grip size?
         0 – No, or I don’t know
         1 – Some of them are, other’s are not.
         2 – Partially fit (maybe grip size, not lie angle, etc..)
         3 – All were fit to me.
6.  What type of Golf Ball do you play?
         0 – Play any ball I find…. no one in particular
         1 – Hard Golf Ball (2 piece golf ball)
         2 – Medium Soft Golf Ball (3 piece golf ball)
         3 – Soft Golf Ball (4+ piece golf ball) – i.e Titleist Pro-V1x, Pro V1, Taylormade Lethal, etc..
Next, need to factor in swing fundamentals:
7.  Is the toe of the wedge up when the club is parallel to the ground in backswing?
    (Set up like you are going to hit a pitch and stop when the club is parallel to the ground in the backswing – the toe of your club should be pointed up.)
         0 – Toe of club is pointed to 9 o’clock everytime or don’t know
         1 – Toe of club is pointed to 12 o’clock some of the time.
         2 – Toe of club is pointed to 12 o’clock (or up) most of the time.
         3 – Toe of club is pointed to 12 o’clock (up) every time.
8.  Do you accelerate through the shot (in particular a pitch shot)?
     (Check this position when you finish the shot.)
         0 – Hands finish at waist high or lower.
         1 – Hands finish between waist high and shoulder height
         2 – Hands finish above shoulders some of the time.
         3 – Hands finish above shoulders every time.
9.  How consistent are the pitches in relationship to contact on face of club?
       (Look at the mark (grass mark, etc..) on the face of the club after impact.
         0 – Inconsistent, marks all over face – even shank some shots
         1 – Consistently off the heel of the club (toward the heel).
         2 – Some shots off middle of face of club, some off the heel of club.
         3 – All shots off the middle of club face (some hit all slightly toward toe)
Before we break down each area and how we can improve – let’s go over our totals and potential:
0 to 9 points – Very little to no potential to create spin and have a good short game.
10 to 15 points – Some potential, but wouldn’t count on any spin when hitting short game shots.
16 to 20 points – Medium potential, can create and play some spin on medium / soft to slow greens.
21 to 24 points – High potential, can create and play spin on most all types of greens, still some areas (above) to work on.
25 points + – Very high potential, unless one area (above) is low, no problem creating spin when needed.
An interesting comment I often hear is, “I don’t play good enough to care about creating spin on my short game shots.”
Could not be further from the truth.  The more greens you miss, the more short game shots you will have – and the more you will need to hit good shots that have spin when needed.

Basically all short game shots should have some type of spin – some more than others. A short chip will have spin as it hits the green – allows you to be more aggressive. A pitch or lob/flop shot needs spin to stop quick and even most bunkers (sand trap) shots need spin to get close to the hole.

Let’s give a “short” review of each area above and if you scored low, how you can improve that area.
1.  How much divot do you take when you hit a pitch or wedge shot?
You need to take a divot (can be small), but need a divot most every time you hit a pitch, even with a chip off a “tight” lie (lie with minimal grass).  This divot should start slightly after/past the ball and is indicative of good “angle” toward the ball.  You always want to be hitting down on the shot.  If you cast, “flip” or release early – you will have a lot of problems taking a divot.
Fix – Work on your leverage angles through impact.  Work on your hands leading the shot (getting your hands ahead of the club head through impact).
Drill – Work on the LEVERAGE BAG – one of the best, if not best, drill you can use to work on your hands leading the shot.  Please review – CLICK HERE
2.  How much Speed to you create? 
Speed is a hard thing to increase (when over 25 to 30 years of age).  But, can work on optimizing speed at impact.  Leverage bag drill above will help.
Fix – Please CLICK HERE
3.  Do you carry a Lob Wedge (58* or lower) and Sand Wedge (54* or lower) in your golf bag?
Most important club in the bag – your putter.
2nd most important club – your driver.
3rd most important club – your lob wedge.
Your lob wedge saves shots, helps you score, if “your friend” – the best tool to scoring in your bag. Saving shots, creating shots, allowing you to “take more risks”, etc…
Recommended to carry as many wedges as you can in your bag (within limit) – they are your SCORING clubs.
Fix – Get a lob and sand wedge.  Contact us at the GGA – we’ll make sure they are fit to you perfect and make sure the club is set up for maximum spin.
4.  What type of Wedge (Lob and / or Sand Wedge) to you hit?
If you hit a pitching wedge 90 yards or more it is recommended to have STEEL shafted FORGED sand and lob wedges (even gap wedge for some).
You want steel shaft for weight (helps in high grass, sand, 1/4 or 1/2 shots, etc.) and added weight will increase spin.
Examples of forged wedges –
Titleist Vokey:  CLICK HERE
Callaway Forged:  CLICK HERE
All major companies carry forged wedges – email or call us if you have questions.
Fix – Get a forged sand and lob wedge.
5.  Were your wedges fit to you for length, lie angle, shaft flex, grip size?
If your wedges are not fit to you, they are potentially doing more harm than good.  A wedge too upright (lie angle – or toe of club off ground) will cause perfect swing/path to pull the ball to the left (for right handers).  A club too flat – will cause ball to go to the right.  A grip that is too big – limited feel in the shot.
Fix – Get wedges that fit you.  If you want your fittings:  CLICK HERE
6.  What type of Golf Ball do you play?
The softer / more layers the golf ball – the more spin you can create.
Also – you need to play the same type of golf ball, at least around the greens.  It is almost impossible to have good “feel” in the short game if you are always using different golf balls.
Fix – Experiment with different golf balls – see what you like.  Talk to your local pro (most are trained……) about the new golf balls on market.  Soft/feel golf balls are not always expensive.
You can see examples of different layered golf balls at: CLICK HERE
7.  Is the toe of the wedge up when the club is parallel to the ground in backswing?
It is essential you swing the club (club head) properly on plane to get maximum / correct spin on the golf ball.  Check this position often.
Drill – Most who have problems with the toe up position have grip issues (grip too strong, etc..)
        Others problems can be backswing issues, etc..
Fix – Work with GGA Grip Training Club – CLICK HERE
       Work on backswing – please see:  CLICK HERE
8.  Do you accelerate through the shot (in particular a pitch shot)?
A majority of golfers who have difficulty pitching decelerate through the shot.  A divot with deceleration will cause fat shots, short shots, club head twisting.  Most, instead of fixing acceleration, work on hitting less divot (not good….).
Drill – Work on “mini” golf swing with short backswing and longer throughswing.
            View:  CLICK HERE
Fix –  Continually work on shortening your backswing in a pitch and chip if you are decelerating.  Shorter the better…..
9.  How consistent are the pitches in relationship to contact on face of club?
Most often this is a path (swing path) issue.  A pitch is a “mini” golf swing.
Drill –  Work on your golf swing – (very small) and work up.  Start small (short shots) and work up.
          Pitch 20 yards or less, check the face for marks.  Don’t get longer unless consistent with
          short shots.
Fix –  Start small and work up.  Don’t rush…. the more “deliberate” you are with small shots and
         then work longer only when short shots make consistent contact, the faster you will get
Summary –
Highest potential in your short game / pitching to create spin and ultimately score better (much better).You play fitted (to you) forged wedges (sand and lob) and the same (type) soft (multi layered) golf balls. You create a divot every pitch, marks on club face are consistently in middle, toe of club is up when waist high every time in backswing and your hands finish high (on finish).
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.  Call or email anytime.