By Blayne Barber
If you struggle with those awkward half-wedge shots and feel like you never know how far the ball is going to go, try my simple plan to make this a strength of your game. It's all about distance control.
Look at the two mini swing sequences of me hitting wedge shots. I'm regulating my backswing and through-swing. If you can do this with three different swing lengths on both sides of the ball, you'll hit wedge shots three different distances without swinging any harder or softer. And if you want to turn those three stock yardages into nine, just make those three swing lengths with three different wedges. The difference in wedge loft will alter distance, too. Now you've got a mental library of several yardages where you'll know exactly what club and what swing will hit it close.
You can expand this library even more by changing where you address the ball. It will tend to fly lower and longer the farther back in your stance you play it. So if you're doing the math, you now have 27 stock yardages for these wedge shots without doing anything but altering club selection, ball position and swing length.
As far as technique, take the club back mostly with your arms, but then let your body turn smoothly toward the target in the downswing without trying to hit the ball with your hands. Do that, and you'll own the half-wedge. —with Ron Kaspriske
MATCH IT UP: Although not exact, feel like your arms travel the same distance on both sides of the ball.
VARY IT UP: It's a lot easier to control distance if you alter the length of the swing instead of the pace.