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How do you successfully hit a lob shot?

     Have you every seen Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson take a full swing with a sand wedge fully open. From the length and speed of their swings, one would think the ball would fly well over the green. Instead, the ball flops up very high and lands very softly. The distance traveled  might be only 30 or 40 yards.

     To hit that kind of shot requires a great deal of coordination, skill and practice. Very few of us would be able to successfully use this shot day after day. And we'd need a very good lie to have any chance.

     Very often around the green, a lob shot is required. One needs to be able to fly the ball a short distance and have it roll a very short distance. Let's say you're hitting from one side of a bunker and the pin is only 15 feet on the other side of the bunker (this is called missing in a bad position; you went for a sucker pin and shouldn't have).

Before I tell you how I play it, a few points:

     Firstly, to be successful with such a shot, you'll need to practice it, a lot at first and then regular maintenance. I hit the shot a few times as part of my warm up routine before a round.

     Secondly, you'll need a lofted wedge, preferably 60 degrees. In come cases, you'll need to open the club face to increase the effective loft. Learn more about different types of wedges here.

     Thirdly, one needs to keep in mind not to get too cute. We sometimes need to surrender the fact that getting the ball close is unlikely; 15 or 20 feet might be a very good shot.

     With that said, now an explanation of how to play the shot. I rarely use more than a half swing (hands get to waist high in the backswing). With a short swing, I have more control. I vary the distance the shot flies by varying how much I choke down on the club and how much I open the face. I usually don't open the face unless a lot of height is needed (I want very little roll).

     If you recall from my last newsletter, I gave you a chart indicating how I hit wedge shots of different lengths. I've replicated the chart below.

30 yd
40 yd
50 yd
60 yd
70 yd
80 yd
90 yd
60 degree
1/2: full
1/2: 2 in
3/4: full
3/4: 2 in
50 degree
3/4: full
3/4: 1 in
3/4: 2 in

Using a 60 degree without opening the clubface, I use a half swing to fly the ball 30 yards. I choke down fully on the grip. This shot already flies fairly high. If I wanted to hit the ball even higher, I would simply open the clubface. The more I open the clubface, the higher and shorter the ball flies and the softer it lands.

     You'll need to experiment yourself with how far each shot travels with a certain degree of open clubface. I wouldn't try to deal with more than 3 amounts of openness: just a little, medium and maximum. You'll quickly find out your maximum amount of openness. Once the shots become quite inconsistent, you've surpassed your maximum amount.

     I usually find that the standard wedge shots with the 60 degree highlighted in the table above give my balls enough height most of the time. But on those occasions when I do need more height and a softer shot, it's nice to have the consistent, confident swing and just open the clubface a little and choke down on the club a little less. I find having this shot in my bag saves me numerous shots.

     Very few players at my own club are able to hit a lob shot. I'm sure my club is fairly representative of most. I think the real problem lies with golfers trying to be too wristy, instead of keeping the the wrists soft. As well, they try to help the ball up instead of allowing the loft of the club do the lifting work.

     Lack of practice also plays a major roll. I see very few golfers practicing their short games. Most spend most practice time, if any, hitting balls on the range. Recall what I said earlier in this series, the short game makes up a very large percentage of the shots. Don't neglect it!

     If you have any questions to clarify the method that I use for lob shots, feel free to send me an email and I'll do my best to answer.

     Next time, my newsletter topic will begin to deal with statistics in golf. What is an average golfer? How does a good, low amateur compare to a PGA Tour pro? How does one use knowledge about their own golf statistics to lower their score?


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at

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Langley, B.C. V2Y 2G4
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