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Controlling Wedge Trajectories
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at askme@thewedgeguy.com.

In my observation, hitting quality wedge shots is one of the most difficult things to do, judging by watching average players. Invariably, amateurs hit their wedges too high, with an inconsistent trajectory, which makes precise distance control all but impossible. Mr. Hogan used to say that unless you knew the trajectory your shot would take, you had no idea of how far it would go. Pretty sage advice, I'd say.

So, today’s post was prompted by a long narrative I received from Zack S, just last night. He fully explained his dilemma with wedge shot trajectories . . . here’s some paraphrasing:
Pretty much every club in my bag makes sense to me except for my lofted wedges. The thing I'm bothered the most by is related to how the ball behaves from different lies, such as when I open the face for a little more height/fade . . . the ball often flies up and to the right and travels only half the intended distance like a terrible flop shot or something. Is it really just that the club slid all the way under without ever catching the ball on the grooves?

I've wasted so many good drives with poor wedge play this season that I almost want to lay up to 150 yds with every tee shot some days.
Well, Zack, as I said, what you experience is what seems to plague most golfers. You claim to be an analytic guy, so let me try to explain the physics of what you’re experiencing.

First of all, with added loft, such as with wedges, particularly when laid open some, the overall face height is diminished, so the ball will make contact further up the clubface as you suspect. And because of the loft, the ball is more likely to "slide" up the face at impact to some degree – more from rough or a fluffy lie than from a tight fairway lie, logically, where friction is reduced. The higher the clubhead speed, the more effect the low center of mass typical to wedges will have on the flight, i.e. higher.

The problem of higher-than-optimum trajectories with wedge shots that is common to most amateur golfers is aggravated by two things. First, mass-production wedge shafts are typically heavier and firmer than the others . . . too much so in my opinion. The typical golfer cannot adequately load the shaft at the top of the backswing, so when they start down they do not have the hand speed to stay ahead of the clubhead through impact. With the wedge being the heaviest head, it passes the hands before impact, adding loft and launching the ball into the heavens on a high looping trajectory, rather than the lower, tight pattern common to better players.

I’m a big proponent of softer shafts in wedges for this very reason. It helps you load the shaft a little at the top of the swing, so that you have a better chance of staying ahead through impact. At EIDOLON, we also engineered our wedge shafts to be a little firmer in the tip to help keep trajectories down for the average player, while the upper section is where the “movement” of the shaft occurs for feel and trajectory control.

Another key cause of such high trajectories for amateurs is that the ball is often played too far forward in the stance, and/or the angle of approach to the ball is too steep. A key to good ball position is to have a backward “lean” to the shaft at address, with the hands positioned just opposite the inside of the left thigh (for RH golfers). The takeaway thought should be to take the wedge back low and slow to create swing path width, and then you must keep the left side leading the clubhead all the way through impact.

I hope this helps you understand the geometry and physics at work on these shots, Zack, and that you enjoy your new EIDOLON wedge! We give one away every Tuesday, guys and gals, so send in your questions via the link below.


* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
ramrod_ram says:
I have tried many times to get wedge shots to stop faster on the greens. I can't seem to get this right. Most of my shots run (depending on the wedge I use) a little to a lot. I use all my wedges - piching, gap, sand and lob.
7/21/10
 
aholt2 says:
I have the 56 & 52 degree widolon wedges and I love them from distances of 100 to 70 yards, but when I get closer lets say 50 yards in I have trouble squireing the fase of the wedge, and quite often cut right under the ball hitting it only about 25 to 30 yards, and ruining great drives or second shots. How do you stop hitting the divot futher than the ball ? Thanks AC
7/22/10
 
CFNA says:
"Load the shaft at the top of the backswing...". I am willing to bet that 99% of your readers would not understand what you are trying to say. Plain language would be much appreciated.
7/23/10
 
FFURBECK says:
i have taken the wedges out of my bag. i chip around the greens with a six iron or eight iron. from arounf 60 to 100 yards i use my chipper with usually good results. a wedge is very difficult for me as thew shots don't repeat consistently, one shot willl go straight up and the next will not release. i own ping eye 2 wedge and sand wedge. i love the irons but you can have the wedges.
7/23/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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