This simple movement is the secret to hitting crispy wedge shots

Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.

One area of my game that needs much improvement is in the short game.

Sure, eliminating three-putts would help, but one way to help reduce those is by putting myself in better positions after hitting my pitch shots — aka leaving them closer to the hole than I have been.

linn grant hits a wedge shot during the 2023 dana open
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By: Parker McLachlin, GOLF Teacher to Watch

As I try to break 80 for the first time, I’ve focused on all aspects of my game, and have seen huge gains with everything from my swing sequence to my driving ability. But I still can’t get the touch I need with my wedges.

Lucky for me, GOLF Top 100 Teacher Scott Munroe recently spent some time teaching me a great way to improve on those crucial pitch shots. The good news for me? It required digging into a sport I grew up playing: baseball!

How to hit crispy pitch shots

In the video above, Munroe has me do something a bit unconventional around a putting green — toss a ball underhanded.

“To help you spin the ball, what we’re going to do is to go back to your baseball days, feeling like you’re throwing a ball underhanded,” Munroe says.

He then has me get into a golf stance and practice throwing a golf ball underhanded, holding the follow through.

“Now notice where you are,” he says. “Your weight is forward, your upper body is up, and your arms are extended. Now let’s do that same motion with the club.”

As I grab my wedge, Munroe has me mimic the same feeling I had while throwing the ball underhanded, making sure I finish in the same position.

With the shot in front of me being so short to the pin location, he has me choke down on the handle more, limiting the amount of rotation — and giving me better distance control.

“Because we’re so short, come down on the handle some more,” he instructs. “Now the club gets lighter and you can spin it better.”

Next, Munroe tells me about how my address should be, relative to the lie in front of me.

“Anytime it’s tight, you want to be a little more on the toe [of the club],” he says.

justin thomas chips off the green
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As I hit my shot, I start to see some backspin on the ball, trying to maintain that same feeling as tossing a ball underhanded. Even though I mishit a shot, my mechanics are good enough to produce a decent result — especially since my weight remains on my lead leg and I have good clubface control; which prevents any digging of the club.

Finally, Munroe adds a little hinge to my backswing, which helps the ball go a little bit higher and land a little bit softer.

“Feel a little hinge on the way back,” he says. “So get your arm nice and loose. Middle two fingers [hold the club’s grip], and everything else is nice and loose.”

I hit my final shot using all of Munroe’s suggested elements, with the result becoming a high, soft, crispy pitch shot that settles about two feet from the pin.

“We’re going to let your natural baseball player tendencies take over, and we’re going to have you throw the ball underhanded,” Munroe recaps. “This is for a pitch shot, helping you spin it and control it.

“Being able to hit this shot [consistently] right here? This is how you break 80.”

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Nick Dimengo Editor