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How do you successfully hit those partial wedge shots?

     In my first four newsletter in this series, I've focused on putting improvement. Today's newsletter will deal with hitting partial wedge shots

     A short 40 years ago, the game of golf was totally a feel game. Players didn't even pace of yardages and know actual distances. They looked at their targets and selected their club based on the conditions and feel (how the target looks)

     Today, PGA pros know exact yardages and are much more scientific in their approach to the game. They know how far they hit each club, on average, and base full shot club selection on them. Partial shots, however, are different. Successful execution is more dependent on feel. How much of a swing should be taken? How much effort.

     How many partial wedge shots are you required to hit in an average round of golf? Quite a few I would assume. It is often said that 100 yards and in is what sets apart the great players from the mediocre players.

     If you are a low handicap player that plays quite often, you probably hit your partial wedge shots mainly based on feel. I used to do the same. Once I had a family, however, I know longer had the time to practice. I found my partial wedge game becoming more of a challenge

So, I developed a system so as not to rely so much on feel.

     The concept is simple. Keep the swing simple by reducing its length, that's all. For partial wedge shots, I take half swings and 3/4 swings. That's it, only two different swings for all my partial wedges.

     On half swings, my hands go as far back as about waist high (my wrists are not fully cocked at this point). On 3/4 swings, my hands go as far back as about shoulder height.

     The only thing that varies is how much I choke down on the club. I carry two wedges: a 60 degree and a 50 degree. When I fully choke down on the 60 degree (my right hand index finger and thumb are close to the shaft), and I use a half swing, the ball travels 30 yards. A 3/4 swing hits the ball 40 yards. I don't feel at all taking a full swing when full choking down on the club.

     I choose to stick to a half swing whenever possible because I am more consistent with it given that it is shorter (I have more control). Below in the table is how I hit the ball various distances with my partial swings.

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

Referring to the table above, for a 40 yd shot I prefer to hit a 60 degree with a half swing choking down so that my right hand forefinger and thumb are about
2 inches above the shaft (1/2: 2 in). If I were to hit a 35 yard shot, the swing length and effort would be the same but I would choke down so the my forefinger and thumb are about 1 inch above the shaft.

At 50 yd, I switch to a 3/4 swing fully choking down on the club (3/4: full). I could also attempt a half swing with no choke (1/2: 4 in), but I am not as successful with his option.

At 70 yd, I switch to a 50 degree wedge and a 3/4 swing, fully choking down. About every inch less of choking down equates to about another 10 yards of distance. I hit my full 50 degree wedge 110 yards.

      Your various distances will probably differ from mine. It depends on what wedges you're playing and what your swing speed is like with those wedges. Get out and experiment. Take 10 balls and hit them with a half swing and full choke. See how for the ball flies. Then choke up 1 inch and repeat to see how much further the ball goes. Then try the same with 3/4 swings. You'll get a good idea of which type of swing (1/2 or 3/4) you prefer to use for various distances.

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

     Next time, I'll provide you with more great tips dealing with wedge play. How do you hit a high lob shot without a lot of wrist action?


Play with my Driver Distance Calculator. You can input such variables as loft and clubhead speed to determine the optimum loft. I'll be adding to it soon so that you can input different golf ball parameters such as speed and spin.


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

©Probable Golf Instruction, Ken Tannar 2001-2010. All Rights Reserved.

Langley, B.C. V2Y 2G4
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