This guide will be broken down into parts based on the type of shot. This will make it easier for you when you practice.
NOTE: This guide uses Tournament 12 green speed, high level clubs, and balls with a lot of spin. This is only a basic guide to follow, and then do what I did. Every day I would play my first round as a practice round by myself. If you are in practice by yourself you can take a mulligan on every shot. Place yourself in the perfect position on the edge of the green, bunker, or rough and practice one shot at a time. Please note that I said one shot. If you are practicing the pitch shot then that is the only shot you work with that day.
Short shots to the green are the real factor of the game. Many players to the game only use certain shots. I see players trying to chip 10 yards when there is more than a foot of rough in front of them. I see players over hitting the pin because they select the wrong type of shot, and overall most players do not like to practice and so they are not great players on the course. An example I would like to throw at you is the following:
You are playing a game against a player that is a higher tier than you are. Your second shot lands the green about 15 feet from the hole. Your opponent has a bad shot to the green and lands in rough or sand just off the green. Your opponent then makes his approach shot with a wedge and lands 1 to 5 feet from the hole. You miss your putt, and you both putt for par.
The example I just showed you we have all been in and I would like to explain to you how your opponent plays his game. Wedge shots are the real spine of the game, and playing shots correctly is what saves many of us that have taken the time to practice. You are asking what is the best shot and when and where do I use that shot? I would like to give you a little something to take with you out on the course with you. Please bear in mind that different clubs and different balls have different effects so practice is important for each type of shot. I’m not an expert by any means but I play a well rounded game when I pay attention to what I shoot.
With wedges I tend to use the full spectrum of shots available. My personal favorite club is the 60 yard wedge although many may have the 50 yard wedge. I use the full, punch, flop, pitch, chip, full topspin, and full backspin etc. shots regularly.
First let’s discuss equipment. If you are using starter clubs, and starter balls you will have a lot of work ahead of you. I have seen players make fantastic save shots with starter clubs, so I know that it can be done, but normally that is not the case. I have used Taylor ATV wedges, and they are nice, but play a little different than the Cleveland Wedges that I love. Lower level clubs require more back spin than higher level clubs, not to mention that you need to be familiar with your equipment. Every time you change clubs, you have to change your formula for that new club. The wedges and balls used are a personal preference and there is no right or wrong choice. The key is making a selection (and I wouldn’t mix between two or three or your formulas for each club will be different.) and sticking to it for the long run. This will establish confidence in your judgment when making a shot.
I am carrying three Cleveland wedges, being the 60 yard, 80 yard and 100 yard, and using the Nike Level 71 balls. Most readers will have different equipment, but there is value in taking ideas and experience from reviewing the below notes. I do however recommend carrying 3 wedges. I do not carry a hybrid because when I did I used it so rarely that it was just taking up space in the bag. The objective of this is to be very confident that the shot is very close or in the hole, with a wedge in hand. I will break-down each shot in detail in this discussion.
A fairway lie, with no wind, to a flat green these are not set in stone, just a rough idea:
- 3-9 yards: 60 yd wedge, chip
- 10-17 yards: 60 yd wedge, pitch
- 18-21 yards: 80 yd wedge, pitch
- 22-30 yards: 80 yd wedge, flop
- 31-51 yards: 60 yd wedge, punch
- 52-68 yards: 80 yd wedge, punch
- 69-84 yards: 100 yd wedge, punch
- 85-107 yards: 100yd wedge, full
Chipping is commonly used when within 10 yards of the hole, and the lie of the rough has little play in the shot since WGT made changes. The one thing that you must remember before using the chip shot is that it has more roll and only is in the air for a little over a couple of feet. If you are in the rough with 2 feet or more from the green do NOT use a chip shot and go with a pitch or flop. A chip will more than likely end up in the rough 1 foot from where your ball currently sits.
Before I chip I first switch to putter view and line it up like I was putting. In reality a chip is a putt with just a little loft before it hits the green. I do well with the chip shot, and I do try to make every one of them. Let me give you an example:
Update: You may have to play with it a little. Full backspin tends to stop the ball quickly so I only use half now, but remember I use balls with a lot of spin and Cleveland wedges. The numbers bellow are just figures to work with. See how they work for you. Above all remember that going past the hole 1 foot is perfect so the ball has a chance to get in.
- 7 yd – even: chip 6 full backspin
- 7 yd – 1 ft up: chip 7 no spin
- 7 yd – 2 ft up: chip 7 full topspin
- 7 yd – 1 ft down: chip 5 full backspin
- 7 yd – 2 ft down: chip 4 full backspin
Tips: Since WGT had the update that changed a lot of the characteristics in the game, the rough doesn’t seem to matter on a chip shot. In fact the changes with WGT are not realistic in my opinion, but as I said before, these tips are how I shoot and it’s up to you to practice and make changes where you think they are needed for your setup.
I would like to say that I’m new to the pitch shot, but after I learned to use it correctly I have a ratio of sinking around 60% of them. I use the pitch shot anywhere from 13 yards to around 25 yards pretty well. The pitch shot has a lot of roll out even with the use of full backspin. Much of the shot depends on the lie of the green. The farther the shot you will need to take some off because of the roll out even when you use full backspin. My typical pitch shot I use about 90% backspin aimed at center pin, unless there is a major break then adjust for the last two foot of the shot. I normally hit the exact number for distance. I’ll give you a little breakdown:
- 13 yd even: pitch 13 90% backspin
- 13 yd – 1 ft up: pitch 13 no spin
- 13 yd – 2 ft up: pitch 13 50% topspin
- 13 yd – 2 ft down: pitch 11 100% backspin and the shot could still roll out; this is where a flop might be better to bring it to a stop.
Tip: As you progress through the game and put to practice this basic information, you will notice that not all greens, courses, are the same. You will notice that the same shot that worked perfect on one green will react different on another green. It is a good idea to get a course notebook, or just write down how the greens react, if the distance is farther than what is read, if you need to use backspin when you normally would not, etc. Knowing the course and your clubs can make or break your game.
I use the pitch shot from most lies (except bunkers and steep uphill slopes) around the green from 8 yards to 25 yards. In my experience anything past 25 yards a pitch will give me too much roll out and a punch is probably better. I quite often see players using the flop shot. That is a very solid shot selection for getting up and down, however, how often do you sink it? I am lucky to hole a flop shot in 1/15 attempts. Consider these stats for the pitch shot at roughly 9/15. My intention is to hole the shot, but if I do not hole it, I will leave myself close enough to sink the putt.
Tip: As I said before the changes that WGT has made to the rough in one of the updates does not affect the pitch shot the way it once did. You use to have to add for the rough, and if you are in 70-80% then yes, the pitch shot is not the answer. However, I have noticed little difference even hitting out of 40-50% lie with the pitch shot. You may need to play a practice round and see if the changes have affect on the clubs and balls that you use.
Update: I have been using the pitch shot for a little while now and have learned a couple of things. Again I am using Cleveland wedges and nice balls with good spin. I have even made a couple of eagles from 30+ yards using a new method to the pitch. Remember that this is for longer pitch shots and not your 9 – 20 yard shots.
Step 1: Anything over 20 yards subtract 2 and anything over 30 yards subtract 3. Another legend on WGT said he always subtracts 3 but I have found that I come up a little short, of the hole on 20+ yard shots. I like to roll past it around 1 foot.
Step 2: Use top spin!! I know it sounds crazy but it works if done correctly. Let’s say you hit the backside of the green on St. Andrews long par 5. You are 32 yards from the hole with no wind for this example. Remember 2 things. First automatically subtract 3 for the yardage. Because you are going to use half top for the roll subtract another 2. Now you are looking at a 27 pitch half top spin. Now lets say you have a 20 MHP wind with you. Subtract 2 more (I subtract or add 1 for every 10 MPH wind). Now you have a 25 pitch with half top. Remember to read the green, as there will be roll on the shot. I have made the shot, or landed right next to the pin with this pitch shot.
This shot is one of my favorites and is probably one of the safest shots in the game. I wouldn’t flop over 25 yards because it is a little difficult to control the shot at 30 plus yards. The flop shot provides for a simple up and down in most instances, and is almost a guaranteed stop within 5 feet of the hole. I find the shot the most useful when I have a high up to the hole, but I have used it when I was above the hole as well because I know that a pitch, punch, or chip will not stop.
Aiming the flop is a little difficult because the shot consists of a slice. The slice is of course determined by the distance and wind can play a huge factor in lining it up. These figures may vary from club to club but I’m just giving you a rough estimate. For every 10 yards think 1 yard. That is approximately 1 box that you will move the grid lines.
NOTE: Many players use the flop line which is the first line before center point on the meter scale. Those lines move, in case you didn’t notice. Pull your club back and just watch the lines. As you hold the shot the lines will move closer to the center point. I am not sure why players use that as a measurement, but needless to say they do.
How to shoot the flop shot.
- You will need to be in chip mode to see reverse view of the flag. (Update on WGT has changed this, and you may be in flop mode to see and hit in reverse view now.)
- Go to reverse view in chip or flop mode and look at the wind.
- For every 10 mph the wind blows I call that 1 yard, less than 10 mph ignore it.
- Look at the green and the roll the ball will have. There will be a slight roll, more with lower level balls.
- In reverse view move the gird lines over according to distance and wind to the right. (Note that you are in reverse view so you are aiming to the left of the flag for the slice.)
- Pull the flag. I have missed flop shots by hitting the flag. This is not true all of the time, but I try to make it a habit to pull the flag on all flops, pitches, chips, and sometimes on the punch shot as well.
- Now switch to Flop mode and you will be in player view again. Hit your shot. (Update on WGT allows you to hit a flop shot in reverse view now if you like to hit that way.)
Let me give you an example:
I’m 15 yards from the pin. The pin is 2 foot up. I’m in 40-50% rough. ALWAYS use full backspin. I say to always use full back spin, unless you do not have enough club to get there. In that case you may need a little roll. With a flop you will need to add in for rough. I ignore the up on a flop shot most of the time, but I may add an extra yard for every 5 ft. up; I’m only worried about distance. With my clubs I’ve learned that I add 2 for every shot because my clubs and balls will stop better than lower level clubs and balls. So here is my formula: 15 + 5 + 2 = 22 flop.
Lower level clubs will not add the extra 2 foot that I do because of the extra roll you will have, but this gives you an idea of how to shoot the flop shot. Once you have mastered the flop shot, you will leave yourself a perfect putt within a few feet of the hole, and you will even sink them. I’ve holed many flop shots; it’s just that my statistics on flops are not as good as the pitch shot.
Rough Estimates what to add:
- 20-25% = +2
- 25-30% = +3
- 30-40% = +4
- 40-50% = +5
The flop shot is just as accurate from the rough and bunkers. Bunker shots 40-50% lie or more I would not suggest the flop. Getting out of a bunker there will be more roll out, but you also need to watch the distance. The ball is only in the air for so long and could end up right back in the bunker if you are too far out. Like everything else it will take some practice to get it down.
I will be honest and say that the punch shots with wedges are most possibly the least unused gem in this game. Punch shots do not get the height of a full shot, and are so under used from challenging distances. Wind will not have as much effect on the ball and when you are in certain scenario’s it is the perfect shot. I would say that I punch a shot just as much as I full swing a shot, and I still have people ask me why. I can tell you the answer pretty quick.
I have an 83 yard shot with 10 mph wind in my face. As I said above, wind has little effect on a punch shot. Now I have an 80 yard wedge and a 100 yard wedge. Giving the reading I would need to hit an 88 yard full swing. With a full swing there are a couple of things that could happen, but I’m not comfortable with those slight mistakes. However, my 100 yard wedge has an 84 yard punch. I estimate wind the same way with a punch as I do for most other close shots. I add 1 for every 10 mph. This is a perfect 84 yard punch shot with no spin (lower level clubs may need a little spin if you have to much roll out. My shots bounce once then stop). Let’s say the shot was a total of 86 yards, and then I would still use the 84 yard punch with full topspin. It reduces the chance of an over hit, and will keep me in perfect putting distance.
With my wedges, the punch shots are as follows:
- 60 wedge: 50 yd full punch
- 80 wedge: 68 yd full punch
- 100 wedge: 84 yd full punch
The punch shot is easy to adapt to, just know when to use it and when not to. The punch is a drop and stops shot, and absolutely perfect for many tough situations. Like in the example above, adding a little bit of topspin will give you the extra couple of yards if you need it. Remember that every course is different. For a perfect example I’ll give you St. Andrews. I normally don’t use backspin on a punch shot, but on Andy the ball tends to run more that you would expect it to. I use anywhere from 10% back just to stop it to 90% back on a couple of holes. Don’t allow one hole to predict that your shot was incorrect. It could very well be that hole you are playing.
Update: I am not sure if I mentioned it in the description above, but I noticed that my punch shots come up short on anything under 40 yards. A friend of mine and myself have worked out a formula for the punch shot using Cleveland clubs that works perfectly. In most cases you know that if you use the Clevelands they will back up incredibly when you use back spin. Saying this I was a little worried about trying this technique at first, however with the exception of just a couple of hole on WGT it works perfectly using full backspin.
20 yard shots full backspin add 5 to the shot.
Example: I’m 19 yards from the hole in 40 -50 lie with 10 MPH in my face.
19 yards + 5 for lie (add the largest number) + 1 for wind (I only use 1 for every 10 MPH on a punch because it doesn’t have the height) = 25 punch with full backspin. Now I add an additional 5 giving me a 30 yard punch full backspin.
Same scenario but 25 yards from the hole.
25 yards + 5 for lie + 1 for wind = 31 +4 = 35 yard punch full backspin.
40 yards and up I do not use backspin and punch my normal shot. 1 -29 yards I add 5, and 30 – 39 yards I add 4. The only drawback that you may have to play with is those higher numbers, but this gives you a great starting point to work with.
Note: I have a friend that I play with that uses Max Meter wedges. This math works perfect for him with the exception that his clubs back up so much that he can only use half the backspin.
I hope that you have learned a little something from this, and will put it to good use. It will take a little practice to become good at all of the shots I’ve mentioned. Many players underuse the use of topspin on wedges to get that extra couple of yards and instead select another club to not play with a full swing.
A few notes to help your game:
- I use half wind for measurements when adding and subtracting distance of the shot. This works well for me and I’ve had many players tell me that it works well for them as well. However, different people do things differently, and I’ve heard that 1/3 of the wind works for them.
- Uphill I add half the distance. If it reads 20 up then I add 10 to my swing.
- Downhill I subtract 1/3. 20 down I would subtract 7. 20/3 = 6.67 I round up.
- Crosswind I move boxes. Many players play before or after the center mark, but I tend to try to play the ding. Moving boxes on the flag helps me get close to the pin. The only bad thing about it is if you hit early or late your shot may not end up exactly where you wanted it to. To give you an example of this let me explain the following.
- The closer you are to the pin the ball is not in the air as long so the wind doesn’t have the same effect.
- Topspin keeps the ball lower to the ground the wind doesn’t have as much effect as backspin does.
- Each box (what reads the distance and up down on the flag) is approximately 5 for the wind outside of 150 yards. Under 150 yards the measurement goes down.
- I am 200 yards from the pin with a 20 mph cross wind right to left. I select overhead view and move that box approximately 4 box widths over into the wind.
- I’m 100 yards from the pin with a 20 mph cross wind right to left. I select overheard and move it 2 boxes maybe 2 and a half.
If you have any questions feel free to ask, and I will be happy to give you some instruction on playing the game. Every shot is something that you need to practice to become familiar with to save you in games when you have a shot that places you in a bad position.
The last thing to remember is that equipment does play a factor in the game. How much spin does your ball have? how much roll out does your ball have? What clubs and club level are you using. Every time you change equipment or balls the play is going to be different and you need to learn it to adjust to it. One of the most important things is to know what your club will hit into the wind, and with wind behind you.
Good luck and happy practice with these guidelines to help you out.