Here is a simple wedge challenge:
Put 10 balls in a pile 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards
from your target. Get at least 5 of each
pile within 10 feet of the hole. Go
through your routine, don't drag the ball into place and hit. Visualize your trajectory and execute the shot to match your vision.
There is a lot you can learn from this simple exercise. You can a towel down 5 or 10 yards short of the hole and focus on an intermediate target. This is very good for your discipline when you're on the golf course. You want to learn to choose and focus on where the ball should land to get it close to the hole. So many times, our focus becomes the hole, the ball flies to the hole and we are off the back chipping back to the hole.
When you hit a low shot that releases to the hole, where do you land the ball? How much swing do you need to make it happen? Now, hit a high shot to the same hole. Does the length of your swing need to change? Does your landing point? Are you matching your vision of the shot with the swing and landing spot on every wedge shot you hit? Work on this in practice and it will become second nature to you when you play. This is one reason why it is so important to go through your routine in practice and truly have a clear vision of the shot you want to hit.
Can you hit wedges that release and wedges that check? Learn to rotate your arms through the shot to hit a runner and hold off your hands to hit a check shot. Now add spin to the above equation and visualize how the ball reacts when it hits the green.
Finally, have a standard distance with each of your wedges. Take the opposite approach to the challenge and hit 10 balls with a 1/2 swing with each wedge and then walk to the center of the cluster. Now do the same with a 3/4 and a full swing. Let's say you hit your SW 50 yards with a 1/2 swing, 75 yards with a 3/4 swing and 100 yards with a full swing. If you have an 80 yard shot, you can hit your 3/4 SW and have a 15 footer. As you get better with repeating these swings, you will be able to add a little or take a little off of each of the three distances. Now do the same with your lob wedge and pitching wedge. Hopefully, you now have 9 standards for distance control and from there, you can make small adjustments to dial in a perfect yardage.
I like the idea of laying up to a perfect distance and when I caddy, I know what the player wants to hit on her par 5's or if she needs to get out of trouble to a perfect distance. However, great players can score from any distance and while they all have a perfect distance, they score from every distance.
Have a great wedge practice! Take your time, learn from the session and walk away with confidence you can carry to the course the next time you tee it up!