The reason I play three to four rounds of golf a week is to get to the 75 to 100 yard wedge shots that I can “spin back” on the bentgrass greens of Hasentree. To watch this happen puts a huge smile on my face. On the 16th hole I am often left with a 90 yard shot that is downhill. To stand at the top of the hill and watch the ball spin and dance all over the green is quite a delight. Here is how I do it:
The first thing you must understand is to spin the ball you have to make contact with the ball before the ground. If you tend to hit shots fat or chunky it can be difficult to learn to spin wedge shots. The other important factor when spinning the ball is the hands MUST be in front of the ball. If your hands are even with or behind the ball at impact you are not hitting the wedge or short iron correctly.
The way in which I make certain my hands are in front of the ball is to forward press. I line up my wedge or iron and push my hands forward so the blade of the club is actually several inches behind my hands when I am looking at it at address. You will see some professionals do this. Ernie Els is one that comes to mind. After forward pressing, I make 100% certain my right hand, which is my back hand, does not collapse in any way. If the back hand collapses the forward press was pointless.
One way I explain it to my buddies is that as I go back with my backswing I actually press forward with the pad of my index finger on my right hand. By doing this, I keep the club face shut throughout the entire backswing. The club face looks very similar to that of Dustin Johnson on the backswing. As I come back down to impact I keep my hands in the same position so when I strike the ball it is a replication of my address; my hands should be several inches ahead of the ball.
As soon as I make impact with the ball I know if it is going to be a fantastic wedge short or an average wedge shot. If you tend to thin your wedges you are not far from being really good with them. “Thin to win” has been a saying for years for a very good reason. Most players that thin wedges tend to be about a millimeter or two off of being perfect. If you can get your club face to the perfect spot at impact you will enjoy the ability to spin wedges more than any of your golfing buddies.
To practice this, I would strong suggest getting a 60 or 56 degree wedge and going to your short game area. Unfortunately, most public courses do not have a short game practice area. If yours does, spend twice the amount of time there than you do hitting full swings. This is the only way you are going to get better with your short game and spinning the ball.
Find a fluffy lie and try forward pressing a few times to get the feel of hitting your 60 degree wedge with spin. Remember that forward pressing is going to deloft the club which in turn will make the trajectory lower. Even though the trajectory is lower, it does not mean you did not spin the ball correctly. In fact, the best “check” shots the professionals hit are the ones that come in low and spinning like crazy. As you get the hang of your 60 degree or 56 degree wedge you can then work on half and three quarters swings.
One of the biggest problems I see with most amateurs, when it comes to their short games, is they do not know how to hit a half or three quarters shot. They have mastered the full swing but that 55 yard shot is impossible for them. Touch around the greens can save you five to 10 strokes per round. It will also drive your playing competitors crazy. I only drive the ball about 250 yards but I can play golf in the low 80s.
Most of us have played golf with an “old timer” or “senior” that hits the ball straight and can get around the greens. If you can master this part of the golf game you will be able to play on any course in America. You may not be able to play Pinehurst #2 from the tips but you will be able to navigate any public course from the #3 or black tees. Keep this in mind when you want to start busting out 300 yard drives. Remember that those long drivers are often the same ones that can’t chip and putt worth a crap.
Here is a video that shows how I forward press clubs. Even though this is a 6 iron it still depicts how I keep my hands in front of the ball.