How to Hit Wedges into Soft Greens, Golf Swing Tip

Mid- to high-handicap golfers covet the ability to hit wedge shots that spin backward after landing on the green. But possessing this skill does have its drawbacks (so to speak).

When the greens are especially soft, usually from excess rain or watering, high-spinning shots will sometimes back up 10, 20, even 30 feet or more depending on the green’s slope and speed. Occasionally, the ball will end up off the green, perhaps in a hazard. (Witness Kyle Stanley’s disastrous approach shot on the 72nd hole of the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.)

There are several ways to combat this problem. First, note that the harder you swing, the more spin you’ll impart. That’s why you’ll sometimes hear PGA Tour commentators refer to a player hitting a wedge shot with “dead arms” in order to decrease spin. Fortunately, there are easier ways to reduce spin without making such a subtle, difficult swing adjustment.

Here are a few tips for high-spin golfers faced with super-soft greens:

  • Take more club and swing easier: For example, if the distance calls for a full pitching wedge, hit a soft 9-iron instead. The ball will fly lower with less spin, yet still stop quickly after landing.
  • Play the ball forward in your stance: Instead of addressing the ball in the center of your stance, move it a couple of inches forward (toward the left foot, for right-handers). This will create a shallower approach angle and decrease spin. Standing a little wider will enhance the effect.
  • Switch to a lower-spin ball: If you know before playing that the greens will be soft, use a ball that spins a little less than your usual model. For instance, if you normally play a Titleist ProV1, grab a sleeve of Titleist NXT Tour balls instead. A little web research of your favorite brand will point you in the right direction.

Too much spin is a good problem to have, but it can be a problem nonetheless. Fortunately, the solutions are pretty simple.