‘Sweep, not steep’: Short game guru says it’s the key to grooving wedge shots

Parker McLachlin, aka Short Game Chef, says it's important to sweep and not be steep in order to hit consistent wedge shots. Here's why

By sweeping beneath your ball, you'll create the spin and control you want on wedge shots.

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Parker McLachlin, aka the Short Game Chef, has helped numerous PGA and LPGA players excel in the short game, and offers his pro-level tips for players of all abilities. SIGN UP HERE!

The best golfers can hit a clunky pitch from the fairway yet still produce a good trajectory, lots of spin and great distance control. How can that be? It’s because skilled short-game players understand how to use the club’s bounce to mitigate even an obvious dropkick.

Around the greens, bounce is a savvy player’s insurance policy. The trick to taking advantage of it is to avoid coming into the ball too steep. It’s been proven that if you trace a wider swing arc, your probability of success on a pitch shot goes up.

McLachlin demonstrates how to sweep to use the bounce of your club. GOLF Magazine

Picture the bounce on your wedges as the bottom of a surfboard: If you come in at the correct angle, it helps the club skim across the turf. As it skims, it allows you to contact the ball on grooves two to five, which, due to the way wedges are designed, is where you’ll generate the most spin.

So even if you hit the ground before you hit the ball, if you’re wider than you are steep, you’ll still get the results you’re looking for.

Dear Chef, why are wedge grooves so important to short-shot success?Jeff D.

Whether you’re hitting a full wedge or a 10-yard chip, you’ll need a heavy dose of spin. Getting it is most often dictated by the quality of your grooves. It’s critical to keep them fresh and clean. Even the slightest amount of moisture or debris will dramatically curtail spin. Clean freak or not, you’ve got to take better care of your gear. (I’ve also seen studies that show spin rates decline significantly after using the same wedge for 150 rounds, FYI.)

Another interesting thing to note is that if you’re someone who loves to practice bunker shots, your wedges—and grooves—will deteriorate faster because of all the sandblasting. That’s why you’ll see some Tour pros practice sand shots with a wedge identical to the one they game for training only. Excessive? Not when spinning is the difference in winning.

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