“The bunker should be the fearful place it once was, not the perfect surface from which a pro expects to float his ball out stone dead, something he doesn’t expect when chipping.” – Michael Hobbs
By Ian Hardie
In the article Does your ‘old favourite wedge’ cost you shots on the golf course? I talked about a common problem that some golfers have on the golf course when playing a shorter shot into the green.
I am of course, referring to those golfers who make the observation that they ‘don’t get much spin on their wedge shots’ – without actually, really complaining about it.
In actual fact, I think that it’s something that wouldn’t really even be an issue, if they weren’t so used to seeing the images that we all see of tour players who spin the ball back greatly on television.
And even though most golfers are aware that there are quite a few differences in the equipment, conditions and skill that those tour pros have and use to do what they do on the golf course – which really do enable those impressive spin shots to be played.
It doesn’t stop people forlornly hoping that they too, could hit shots like that.
Most often, the golfer’s that make this observation have one thing in common, they generally have ‘an old favourite wedge’ in their bag that they have had for some time.
A wedge that would have seen them through many difficult situations on the golf course, been a part of the highs of chipping or pitching in, as well as a part of the lows that golfers can experience with a wedge in their hands (which I’m sure you don’t want me to list) and as a result of all of that use over time.
The grooves on the face of the wedge that most golfers who don’t spin the ball a lot use, will generally be in worse condition than the grooves on the sand wedge in the image above (and yes, I know that’s a new wedge – that’s the point!)
I went on in that first article to give you a few statistics about grooves and spin rates, as well as suggesting something that some golfers thought was pretty controversial.
That wedges in actual fact should be treated as almost a disposable item.
However, as the spin that’s able to be applied to the golf ball drops relatively quickly as the grooves begin to wear and wedges are in general used a lot more than your other irons – it actually makes sense to change them more often than most golfers do.
You would be surprised as to just how often, the tour pros that get lots of spin on their shots change their wedges – that’s just part of the magic that makes up what you see on television and of course.
It’s a lot easier to do when you get free golf clubs to use.
Now, I know that some of you reading this will be thinking ‘I don’t need to change my wedge, I’ve got one of the old ones that spin more than the new ones do’ and while it’s true that some wedges manufactured before the groove rule change in 2010 produced a lot more spin on the ball than the newer conforming ones do now – I hate to have to break it to you but those few years of use that you have already had.
Will have eroded away any advantage that those older wedges had.
The other thing that golfers who use their old favourite wedge for too long and as a result don’t get a lot of spin, will experience in their golf game is wild inconsistencies in their ball flight – even though they may feel that they hit the shot ok.
Most often, this is due to the fact that wedges end up with a lot of ball impacts in a small area, which means that not only will the grooves lose their sharpness but it will also begin to form a slight hollow where the wedge strikes the golf ball most often.
Over time a ridge forms around that hollow that serves to affect any shot that isn’t quite hit in the middle and sends it slightly off-line – even though you may have felt that you hit a good shot.
Suddenly realised that has actually happened to you on the golf course?
Similarly, when using the more lofted wedges with worn grooves, the lack of metal behind the shot (see if you can work out why I say that) can find the golf ball skidding up the face as opposed to being struck properly.
Which will result in a shot that will fly a little differently than you expected and come up a few yards short.
A shot that most golfers simply blame on a lack of skill.
Now, before you rush out to buy some new wedges to solve your seeming lack of ability to generate spin with them, lets quickly take a look at just what’s going on when you hit a wedge shot – just in case it is your skill level that’s the problem.
The simplest way to understand what’s going on is to break it into three parts:
First, you need to be making a descending blow on the golf ball.
Second, the grooves of the wedge need to bite into the cover of the golf ball when it’s hit.
Third, there needs to be a brief moment in time when the first and second things combine to trap the golf ball against the ground which creates the back spin.
That seems easy enough doesn’t it?
However, there is a fourth part that a lot of golfers don’t consider:
Fourth, it’s going to help a lot if the golf ball that you use has a soft enough cover to produce the high spin rate that’s required to spin the golf ball a lot.
The reality is that if you are playing a golf ball with a fairly hard cover that has words like ‘distance’ or something similar printed on it – you are unlikely to get much spin on your wedge shots.
To find out more about that take a look at this article
I’m going to leave it there for now and if you happen to be one of those golfers who doesn’t get much spin on their wedges shots – I’d suggest that you take some time to head to a practice facility of some sort over the next few weeks and see if you can work out a way to spin your wedge shots more than you do now using the ideas above.
Or you could just go and buy a new wedge or two, I suppose.