In this unprecedented year, the Masters is being played in November, making this blog a timely reminder for many golfers. The majority of American players are obsessed with flop shots and playing high lofted wedges around the greens. It doesn’t matter if your wedges are Callaway, Mizuno, Titleist, or any other brand. Any wedges that are above 52 degrees in loft, can be problematic, even for the very best golfers. This is especially true if you are playing Augusta National and many other golf courses, especially those with large greens.
People love to watch skilled wedge players such as Phil Mickelson, play 64 degree flop shots, especially when the ball backs up upon landing. It’s fun to watch and looks like voodoo! Nonetheless, they have no idea how many hours that players such as Phil, and many other pros, spend practicing those shots. They also fail to realize how many hours that the pros practice playing bump and run chip shots. They are less dramatic and don’t get as much air time on TV. These shots are designed to get on the ground as quickly as possible and run to the hole. Chip shots are essentially putts using more loft, when played with clubs other than the putter. If you’ve watched Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Nick Faldo play Augusta (three players with great success there), you’ve witnessed a different approach strategy when they missed greens, because they usually played chips instead of pitches. With the undulations and speed of the greens at Augusta, they knew the odds of getting down in two were better by playing this type shot.
It is certainly true that you can get close to the hole by pitching or chipping. However, the more glance factor that is on a golf club (meaning more loft), the harder it becomes to judge distance, especially if the grass is damp. Any good player knows that the most important factor in the short game, is to control distance. You seldom fail to get down in two by missing the hole wide, but by being short or long on your putts, pitches or chips. The more direct blow (by using less loft) that is used to contact the ball, the easier it becomes to judge the distance. If there are transition zones in your greens, any lofted shots that land into them, can immediately stop. This will leave you well short of the hole, and still having to putt up a rise (not easy).
Our advice is to get out and practice from off the greens and select the lowest lofted club that will safely carry a few feet onto the green, start rolling immediately, yet stop by the time it reaches the hole. If you’ve short sided yourself, it may have to be a high lofted wedge. However, more often than not, a less lofted club will yield a better result. Try this the next time you practice and see if your scores don’t start going down. And if you are ready, take the Gravity Golf Challenge to learn fundamental skills to perfect your short game.