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In this video and article, PGA Professional Nick Drane talks about golf wedge distances and explains how to set up for more control.
Let's start with your wedge line up. It makes sense to look at the key distances you want to hit from your pitching wedge down. This will help you work out how many wedges you need so that you feel comfortable you can get the ball fairly close from any yardage inside 100. As a rule, it makes sense to have gaps of 4-6° from your pitching wedge.
So, I have a 44° pitching wedge, 48° gap wedge, a 54° and then a 58° lob wedge. These have all been fitted for me, which is also a very sensible idea. In terms of gapping, I have approximately a 15-yard distance between each club. However, as well as having a full swing for each wedge, I also have a different technique that I can adopt to manipulate distance too.
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For the full swing, I take my grip at the end of the club, with the ball position in the middle of my stance. In the video above, you can see how I make a normal full swing with a full finish.
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Because I'm gripping the club at the end of the grip, I get that wider arc and more speed - which equates to more distance.
Full Swing Vs Grip Down
By changing the set-up and width of the arc, it's easier to be consistent with your golf wedge distances. To hit a shorter distance with the same wedge, hold the club in the middle of the grip - so grip down - and narrow the stance. The rhythm of the swing remains the same which should help with the consistency of the strike.
This gives me a shorter swing and more of a three-quarter follow through. With a narrower arc, I generate less speed in the swing, so the ball won't go as far. Even though I'm gripping down the club, I'm still going to be aggressive and positive through the ball.
So, with my four wedges and two different techniques, I'm able to hit eight different yardages. In short, I can play a greater number of shots, create more birdie opportunities and, as a result, shoot lower scores.
I'd really recommend taking a bucket of balls to the range and just experimenting with your wedges. You don't have to pick a target - just hit four or five with each wedge and see where they fall and note the grouping. Quite often when a target is in the way, I'll see players react to that - so by removing the target you'll be able to focus on distances and strike.
Observe what your grip down 54° does, for example, rather than trying to make it go a certain distance. Let the club and that technique tell you have far it's going to go. Taking this approach can really boost confidence in your short game.
Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.
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