Using the Golf Wedge

Lessons on Chipping, Pitching and Bunker Shots

Rory McIlroy Bends Sand Wedge
Don't let this happen to you! Rory McIlroy angrily bends his sand wedge after a poor bunker shot. The wedge tips for chipping, pitching and bunker shots found on this page can help you avoid similar frustration. Warren Little / Getty Images

Sometimes, golfers have to rely on a strong wedge play game to get out of tough obstacles or drive the ball those last few yards to the green. If you're unsure of your chipping or pitching, or you struggle on bunker shots around the hole, the tips below can help you to improve your wedge game and ultimately reduce the number of strokes for each hole.

Most golfers don't get a lot of experience before they're already playing their first round of golf with getting balls out of tricky bunkers and onto the green. These bunker shots require specialty clubs called wedges to lift the ball out of the sand pit and back up onto the playing green toward the hole.

Similarly, players who find themselves in the rough grass just outside the putting green might have to chip or pitch their ball over the last few yards with a wedge in order to maintain control and guide the ball closer to the hole. 

Bunker Shots

When a player gets caught in a sand pit on greenside bunkers, the best option to get them closer to or in the hole is to utilize a wedge club to knock the ball firmly but gently enough to get it up and out of the pit and onto the playing field without going too far past the target.

Perhaps the most important element of sharpening a player's technique when it comes to bunker shots is to assess and understand the point of entry drill for sand shots as well as adjusting to different sand conditions. Depending on the depth of the ball, the thickness and wetness of the sand, and the distance to a hole, a player will have to reassess the drilling strength required to gently drive the ball out of the bunker.

It's important, too, for golfers to remember to not hit the ball too high or even too low as either will result in catastrophe for the player — if he hits it too high, the ball will just drive further down into the sand pit while if he hits it too low, it might soar far over the hole or even directly up in the air.

Chipping and Pitching Over Obstacles

Sometimes it may be required that a golfer hit a lob shot, also known as a flop shot, to lob the ball over a, particularly rough patch before the putting green. Many use the "11 Ball Drill" to identify strengths and weakness around the putting green in order to better and more rapidly improve their games.

Shortening a players backswing and accelerating the club may also improve chipping as hitting the ball down will pop it up quickly before driving it directly toward the hole along the surface of the putting green. Similarly, the 7-8-9 and 6-8-10 Methods can also help to improve chipping, as will these chip shot fundamentals that are meant to help players avoid chunks and sculls.

It's important for players to remember that a good and successful chip drill requires that players keep the club moving through impact in order to provide a full chip with the most control, and players should favor chipping over pitching when possible

Be sure to also check out instructional DVDs to further improve your skills, and, as always, practice indeed makes perfect so get out to the bunkers and start practicing your short game now.