Golfing from the fringe

Published 08/12/2010 07:33:00

When your approach shot comes to rest against the fringe of the green, your normal chipping technique won't work because you can't make contact with the ball without trapping grass between the club face and the ball. In this situation, it's best to use the "bellied sand wedge" shot.


Your intention here is to swing a sand wedge so the leading edge strikes the ball above its equator. This way the club head doesn't have to deal with the grass behind the ball.


A sand wedge is used because it has more weight along its bottom edge than the other irons and therefore produces a solid hit without much of a backswing. Also, the heavier the club head the better because this will give you increased feel for the shot.


There is one caveat: Check the leading edge of your sand wedge to see if it's severely rounded. The ball has a tendency to squirt off line when hit with a rounded edge because it has less surface area for solid contact. If your sand wedge has this rounded characteristic use your next heaviest wedge -- lob, gap or pitching wedge, in that order.


Use your normal putting stance for this shot, and position the ball 2 inches forward of center so you can catch the ball slightly on the upswing. Hover the club off the ground directly behind the point on the golf ball where you wish to make contact, as I am in the top photo.


Use your putting stroke and keep your swing level so the club head moves back and through with minimal raising and lowering. Your goal is to return to the "hover position" at impact, hitting the ball a tad above the midline.


Do not use any independent hand or wrist movements for this shot. Notice how my hands and wrists are in the same position at the end of the stroke in the second photo as they were at address. There is no breakdown.


This stroke should be controlled by the teeter-totter action of the shoulders. Hit properly, the ball will roll like a well-struck putt, but don't be fooled: Because of the overspin on the ball, you won't have to hit it as hard as you think.


Practicing this shot is good for your putting stroke. Many expert players use it as a putting drill because you can't get away with any flippiness when you're hitting the bellied wedge. Even the slightest breakdown of your wrists results in a poor roll that gives you immediate feedback regarding your transgression.


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