Lob Wedge: Love it or hate it?
It may just be the most controversial club in the game — the dreaded or cherished "lob wedge". Tom Kite is generally credited as being one of the first tour professionals to put the 60-degree "lob wedge" into the bag for regular play. And shortly thereafter, Mr. Kite became legendary for his skills and accuracy with that club. And others followed, starting with the tour players. The popularity of the lob wedge spread quickly, as things tend to happen in golf equipment, once this visibility and dialog reached a regular pitch on TV.
I hear regularly from golfer two comments about "lob wedges". It seems golfers' opinions about this specialty club fall into two categories. Either you hate it because you never learned to master it, or you love it because you have. I got a question from a reader asking my opinion on this high-loft specialty club, so here goes.
First of all, let's define what we mean by "lob wedge". For this discussion, I'm considering lofts from 58 degrees and up, but mostly in the 58-62 range. There are higher lofted wedges available, but to me they belong in the next category, so we'll contain the discussion to those 58-62 models that are available.
The advantages of the lob wedge are that it launches the ball higher than the sand wedge, and can generate more spin if used properly. Therein lies the rub, so to speak, because these high-lofted wedges are not something you can just pick up and begin shaving strokes. They take orientation and practice to learn just what they can ... and cannot ... do for your short range scoring.
The key to solid lob wedge play is to realize that this is not really a "full swing" club, in the sense that you never want to swing our lob wedge nearly as hard as you would a mid-iron or even pitching wedge. Increased clubhead speed makes shots fly higher and with less distance consistency, and this "problem" is increased as the loft of the club increases. What you should consider a "full lob wedge" shot is really no more than 75-80% of your normal full swing power.
To hit the lob wedge, there are a few basic fundamentals you want to concentrate on. In your set-up, your stance should be narrower than a full-swing wedge shot, and feet aligned slightly left of your target line. The ball should be positioned toward the middle of your stance, so that you have a slight forward lean of the shaft from the head to your hands. Be careful when setting up this way that you do not allow the face to lay open to the target line.
The swing should be simple and "quiet", in that you don't want to allow excessive hinging of the wrists. The motion is felt in the body core rotation, and swinging of the arms, rather than the action of the hands. In the forward swing, you want to feel like you are pulling the club through the impact zone, with your body leading your arms, arms leading your hands, and hands leading the clubhead. That insures a crisp, slightly downward strike of the ball.
And let yourself swing into a nice high finish.
For those partial and half shots with the lob wedge, the same fundamentals apply, just reduce the length and force of the swing to gauge your distance.
If you have a lob wedge you hate, try these tips and see if you can't generate a little love down there at the bottom of your bag.
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