Wedges are made to hit the golf ball high. But there are times when you need to keep a wedge shot relatively low. It's a skill few golfers possess, even very good ones.

How to Hit a Low Wedge Shot, Golf Tip




In fact, many players will reach for a less lofted club, such as an 8- or 9-iron, in those situations. Problem is, the longer club makes it more difficult to control distance and spin. By clubbing up instead of hitting a wedge, you only trade one issue for another.

The low wedge shot comes in handy in a variety of situations. Playing into the wind from short yardage, for example. It's also your best bet when hitting to a pin placed on the back of the green, when a low shot that lands short of the flag and releases is an easier play than trying to fly it all the way and hope the ball stops.

Want to add the low wedge to your repertoire? Of course you do. Just follow these steps:



  • Adopt a narrower stance than normal, with your feet about 6” to 10” apart.

  • Place a little more weight on your left (lead) foot and play the ball slightly back of center in your stance.

  • Be sure the shaft leans toward the target, with your hands in front of the clubhead.

  • When swinging, limit your wrist action while focusing on rotating your body back and through the shot. Keep your weight on your left side throughout.

  • Don't overswing. The harder you swing, the higher the ball will go.

  • Your hands should be ahead of the clubhead at impact.


Do it correctly and the ball will come off at perhaps half the height of a normal, full wedge shot, and with less spin (but still plenty to make the ball grab on the green). Hitting the low wedge is much simpler than you might think, and it can pay major dividends with the time is right.


How to Hit Low Wedge Shots

How to Hit Low Wedge Shots



If you ever get the chance to attend a professional golf tournament in person, you will be amazed to see how high the average Tour player is able to hit the ball. With impressive swing speeds and finely tuned equipment, most pros can launch the ball high into the sky with every club in the bag – even the long irons. However, while they are capable of hitting these kinds of high shots, pro golfers sometimes opt to keep the ball down lower to the ground. One occasion when they do opt for a lower trajectory is when playing wedge shots into the green. Under most circumstances, professional golfers will choose to hit the ball low on wedge approach shots, rather than sending the ball way up into the air.

Why is this the case? Why would the world's best golfers opt for a low flight rather than using their ability to achieve a high trajectory? It comes down to consistency. Thanks to the high spin rate seen on most short iron shots, the ball doesn't need to come down from high in the sky in order to stop quickly. A well-struck wedge shot is going to stop after just a bounce or two anyway, so a high trajectory is unnecessary. By choosing to go low, it is possible to control distance more consistently, leading to more short birdie opportunities. Also, hitting low wedges takes the wind mostly out of the picture, which is obviously a good thing.

In this article, we are going to provide instruction on how you can produce a low wedge flight in your own game. This is a shot that professional golfers turn to frequently, and you will find yourself doing the same once you understand how it works. There is a great sense of confidence which comes along with using a low flight, since you will be far less likely to miss your desired distance by any meaningful amount. Knowing you can dial up the right yardage for the shot at hand, you will feel free to fire right at the flag time after time.

Before we get started, it should be mentioned that there will still be situations where it is necessary to use a higher ball flight. For instance, if you are facing a wedge shot to a hole which is cut barely over a water hazard, you are going to want to bring the ball in higher to make sure you clear the trouble. Or, if you are playing a course with particularly firm conditions, going high can make it easier to stop the ball in a hurry. Generally speaking, however, the low ball flight with your wedge should be your default option.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.


The Basics of a Low Shot

The Basics of a Low Shot



There are a few 'rules' which you should follow anytime you are trying to hit a low shot on the golf course. These rules don't just apply to wedge shots – they are relevant no matter which club you happen to be holding in your hands. Review the following list carefully and keep these points in mind as you practice the ability to control your trajectory.

  • Make a soft swing. The worst thing you can do when trying to hit the ball low is to swing hard. Swinging hard is going to add spin to the ball, which is going to cause it to climb up into the sky. Also, swinging hard runs counter to the idea of hitting a controlled shot. These low wedge shots are all about control, which means you should be trying to make a relaxed swing that delivers the club to the back of the ball the same way time after time. You aren't trying to launch a 300-yard drive here, so don't make the same kind of swing that you make from the tee.
  • Choke down on the grip. Moving your hands and inch or two down the grip at address is another important step to take. This will naturally take a bit of speed away from your swing, and it will also contribute to the control you need to strike these shots. It is easier to find the sweet spot when you move your hands down the grip, since your hands are closer to the club head during the swing. Knowing how to choke up and hit a solid shot is one of the key skills which any golfer should possess, so be sure to practice this technique in the near future. This technique is certainly going to come in handy for your low wedge shots, and it will pay off in a number of other situations as well.
  • Play the ball from the middle of your stance. Many amateur golfers get tripped up on this point. It is common knowledge that you need to move the ball back when you want to hit a low shot, so the average player will line up with the ball way back near the right foot. That is going too far. Yes, you want to move the ball back from your normal positioning, but you don't want to get it so far back that your swing becomes excessively steep. These kinds of shots should be played from roughly the middle of your stance, or maybe a bit behind that point. Stay away from lining up with the ball back near your right foot, however, as such an alignment is going to do you more harm than good.
  • Pick a smart target. Selecting a logical target is another important step in this process. Since you are intentionally hitting the ball lower than normal, this shot is not going to have as much carry distance as a higher shot hit with the same club. Therefore, you need to make sure to pick a target which is going to work for the trajectory you create. In other words, select a target that isn't going to demand that you carry the ball the entire way to the hole. There should be some room in front of the hole where you can land the ball in order to let it bounce once or twice before coming to a stop. Think through your plan for the shot carefully before putting the club in motion to ensure that you aren't going to run into any trouble when the ball comes down.

The basics steps you must use to create a low shot are not particularly complicated. You need to move your hands down the grip, you need to make a soft swing, and you need to play the ball from the middle of your stance. Also, you have to take your trajectory into consideration when selecting a target. As long as all of these boxes are checked, you should be well on your way to a beautiful low shot with any club in the bag.


Planning a Low Wedge Shot

Planning a Low Wedge Shot



Like any other shot you hit on the golf course, some careful planning needs to go into the process of hitting a low wedge shot toward the green. You can't just walk up to the ball and swing away – of course, you shouldn't be doing that in any situation. Take your time, think about the path between your ball and the hole, and make a plan which will lead to a successful outcome.

To help you make the best possible decision for your wedge shots, we have laid out a step-by-step plan below. Note: this plan has been written assuming you are playing a wedge shot from the fairway into the green. If you are in the rough, you will need to make some adjustments based on the fact that you are not going to get very much spin on the shot.

  • As you approach your golf ball, the first thing you are going to do is determine your yardages. That's right – we said 'yardages' in the plural form, because you are going to need more than one number to play your shots correctly. First, of course, you need the number to the hole itself. Additionally, you need to determine the number to the front edge of the green. This is an important measurement because you have to carry the ball at least this far in order to land on the putting surface and get a predictable bounce. Once you are confident that you have accurate yardages, you can then move on to the next step.
  • It would be tempting to reach for a club at this point, but don't go there just yet. Instead, you are going to take a moment to carefully read your lie. Even though the ball is sitting in the fairway, you still have to check on the lie to make sure it is going to allow you to hit your desired shot. The most common type of problem with the lie that you will find in the fairway is when the ball comes to rest in an old divot. If that happens, you will want to play a safer shot toward the middle of the green, expecting to lose a little spin and control along the way. When you do have a clean lie, you can feel free to select whatever shot suits your needs.
  • Is it time to select your club and hit the shot? Not quite yet. First, you need to plan your attack on the target. Are you going to fly the ball most of the way to the hole, or are you going to land the shot near the front of the green and let it bounce from there? During this step, you are trying to pick a very specific landing spot on the putting surface. The closer you are to the green for the shot, the more specific you can be with your target. For example, you can dial in on a very small area when only playing from 60-yards away, while you will need to give yourself more margin for error from 120-yards. Picture the shot traveling from start to finish and settle on the landing spot that seems to give you the best chance for success.
  • At long last, it is now time to pick a club. Based on the distance of the shot, and the landing spot you have selected, the club you need to hit should be obvious. Most of the time, there are two clubs that will work nicely for a given yardage, depending on the trajectory you are going to use. By settling on a landing spot prior to picking your club, you take away any indecision and the club selection task becomes a breeze.
  • With the right club in your hands and your landing spot picked out, there is nothing left to do but hit the shot. By planning your shot in such great detail, you should feel confident and relaxed when you take your stance. You already know exactly what you are trying to do, and you have the right club in hand for the job. Go ahead and make a confident swing, and look up to see the ball heading in the correct direction.

The list above probably looks a bit intimidating at the moment. While there are five steps included in the process, an experienced golfer can go through these five steps in an incredibly short amount of time. Once you get used to how this process works, you won't even need to think about these steps one at a time – you will just go on 'auto-pilot' as you gather your information and make a decision. You certainly don't want to slow down pace of play for other golfers, so practice this process and keep things moving when on the course.


Spin is Essential

Spin is Essential



If you are going to play low wedge shots into the green, it is necessary to have a relatively high rate of spin on the ball as it flies. Since you are using a flat trajectory which will encourage a big first bounce, you need to use spin to stop the ball after that bounce is complete. Without much backspin, the ball will simply keep bouncing and rolling until it winds up over the back of the green. Many amateur golfers think that there is some sort of mystery involved with spinning the golf ball, but that is not the case at all. Rather, putting spin on your shots comes down to two main things – making good contact, and using the right equipment.

First, on the matter of contact. At impact, you need to deliver the club face into the back of the ball as cleanly as possible. If you can avoid hitting the shot fat or thin, your spin rate will benefit and the shot will likely fly an appropriate distance. It takes skill and plenty of practice to make solid contact, however, so don't take this point for granted. If you are struggling with the quality of your contact, work on improving your balance. There is a direct correlation between a golfer's ability to hit the ball solidly, and that player's ability to stay balanced during the swing.

Moving on to equipment, there are two pieces of equipment involved in every wedge shot – the wedge itself, and the golf ball. For your wedge, you don't necessarily need anything fancy to create spin. What you do need, however, is fresh grooves. If the grooves on your wedges are worn out from too much use, it will be nearly impossible to create a good spin rate. Or, if the grooves on your club are dirty and filled with grass, you will again struggle to spin the ball. Always keep your grooves as clean as possible, and make sure to replace your wedges periodically as the grooves wear down.

To go with that wedge, you are going to need a good golf ball. Before you rush to pull out your credit card, however, it needs to be noted that you don't necessarily have to buy the most expensive ball on the market. In fact, most amateur golfers would be well-served to stay away from the premium model golf balls. Those models require advanced skill to use properly – skill which is beyond the reach of most players. To get a good ball which will spin on wedge shots yet not stray too far with the driver, try purchasing mid-level models. Golf balls in the $25 - $35 per dozen range will serve most players very nicely.

The same rules apply with golf balls that apply to wedges. If your ball is too far worn down, it is not going to spin properly. You don't have to replace your ball every hole, of course, but monitor its condition and switch it out when you see obvious signs of damage. Also, you should not be using golf balls that you find in the woods or at the bottom of ponds. This might sound like a great way to save money, but those golf balls are not going to perform as they did when they were new.


Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting



The information which has been provided so far in this article should take you a long way toward playing great low wedge shots. If you are still having trouble producing the kinds of shots you need to set up easy birdie putts, the tips below may help.

  • Hitting the ball fat. If you are hitting most of your low iron shots a bit fat, it may be that you have the ball too far back in your stance. Playing the ball from well back in your stance is going to cause you to make a steep swing, and that steep swing could lead to heavy contact. Simply move the ball up slightly toward the middle of your stance and the problems with fat contact may be eliminated.
  • Coming up short. The adjustments that you have made to hit the ball lower are naturally going to cause your shots to fly shorter than they would with a full swing. So, it follows that you are going to need to use extra club in order to reach the target. Many golfers are stubborn on this point, as they continue to use the same club even though they choked down and moved the ball back in their stance. Don't put yourself in that category. Adjust to the changes you are making to your swing and pick the right club for the job – even if that is a longer club than you would have used previously.
  • Hitting the ball too high. If your trajectory is not as low as you would like, it is very possible that you are still swinging too hard. It cannot be emphasized enough that this is a shot to be played with a soft swing. You are not focused on distance here – you are focused on playing the ball low to the ground with a controlled, balanced motion. By taking speed out of your swing, you are going to launch the ball on a lower trajectory, and the overall flight will be lower as well. This technique requires some practice to master, so be sure to spend some time on this at the driving range before trying it on the course.

Having a low wedge shot in your arsenal is one of the most valuable tools you can add to your golf bag. These kinds of wedge shots are much easier to control than high wedges, and you will quickly gain confidence in this play after you put in a bit of practice time. On the course, look for chances to play low wedge shots as often as possible, but always remember you can revert back to a higher shot when the circumstances demand that you do so. It shouldn't take long for this new shot to translate into lower scores during upcoming rounds. Good luck!