This volume of the New Horizons Golf Approach Pocket Coach Series focuses on learning to play your
wedge shots with confidence. These skills are organized to help you play your wedge shots close
enough to one putt.
The range of shots I consider wedge play is what I call the Into-The-Green Shots. If you’ve read
volume 10 of this series you may recall I consider the shots playing Around-The-Green as Stroke
Saving Shots. Around the green meaning immediately around the green, say within 20 yards of the
edge of the green. You can think of the Around-The-Green shots as the short game shots you can
confidently play close enough to the hole to follow-up with a one-putt. Golfers often feel they can play
these shots Up-and-In with one putt at least 50% of the time.
Playing Into-The-Green is another story. We still want to play these shots close to the hole, but our
first concern is getting them on the green where we can guarantee a two putt. From 30 yards to 75,
or even 100 yards out, we are mostly concerned with playing the shot inside the boundaries of the
green. Thus we are playing them Into-the-Green.
Of course we’d like to play these shots Up-n-In as well. Doing so will allow us to make birdies more
often, or to save par when we’ve had to play out of the trees. These shots keep the momentum
flowing in our favor when we play them Up-n-In. As you play these shots I encourage you to
remember a few points: Golf is an underhanded game, it is helpful to keep your play as natural as
possible, and playing athletically with feel encourages us to play more consistently.
Let’s review why golf is an underhanded game. Since the ball sits on the ground, we set-up to the ball
in an underhanded manner and we return the club thru the ball in an underhanded manner. Volume
10 introduced the basic underhanded motion we called tossing. With this in mind, we will begin our
Into-The-Green play with tossing the ball. Tossing with the golf club is a good way of imagining your
wedge play, and it is an underhanded motion that is easy to incorporate into your game.
Watch tour players preparing to play a short game shot and you will often see them mimic a tossing
the ball. Many tour players learned to play these shots by simply tossing balls around a green. First
they did so with their hands, then with a golf club. For these players, the basic feel for tossing plays
the ball into the air. So, the accomplished player simply learns to toss the ball with the club instead of
The outward feel of the toss, and the outward image of tossing, can establish a strong foundation for
your wedge play. As you learn to toss with the golf club, realize that the clubface directs the toss
much as the palm directs tossing a ball with your hand. The key is to blend the hand and clubface
actions together. The club simply becomes an extension of your hand.
So, as you toss the ball with the club, feel where the clubface is facing, and how the ball simply gets in
the way of the tossing motion. As I play these tossing shots, I like to imagine that the ball is stuck to
the sweet-spot of the clubface. As I swing back it stays stuck to the clubface, then as I swing forward
the ball is tossed off the clubface toward the target.
So, you can establish clubface awareness by imagining the club and clubface as an extension of your
dominant hand. Then imagine the ball being stuck to the clubface and toss it into the air. If you are
right-handed, you have the best chance of developing clubface awareness by developing unity
between your right hand and the clubface. This is because you have the greatest sensitivity with your
right hand. There is a reason your dominant hand is your dominant hand.
Your dominant hand has more dexterity than your non-dominant hand. It can acquire a greater sense
of feel. In short, it is more educated and can command greater control than your non-dominant
hand. Since you have the best chance of feeling where the clubface is facing by using the sensitivity
of your dominant hand, and since you need to know where the clubface is facing, let’s get the two
working together. I encourage you to consider that this is a very natural way to approach your play.
Think of it this way, it's not the use of your hands that causes you to misplay your shots, it's the
misuse of the hand that causes misdirected shots. The fact is, if you are naturally right-handed, you
are more likely to misuse your left hand than your right hand. Conversely, you're more likely to use
your right hand properly than your left hand.
So, if you are a very right-handed person, I encourage you to use your natural skills, I encourage you
to learn to play with your right hand in control. So let’s play more naturally, let’s get your dominant
hand and club working together. Of course, if you are left-handed I encourage you to play left-
handed golf by playing from the left-handers side. In either case, if you are left-handed use more left
hand, even if you are playing from the right-handers side of the ball. Now, if you are ambidextrous
you’ll need to find for yourself what procedure works best.
Once the connection between your dominant hand and the clubface is established, you can toss with
the club. As you begin tossing with the club, you will most likely realize that you have a tendency to hit
at the ball, or maybe you tend to scoop it into the air. Once again, I encourage you to trust the
I often have players close their eyes and toss, then open their eyes and toss. About half my students
can toss better with their eyes closed. With their eyes closed they simply imagine a good toss, then
they react. With your eyes closed, you utilize the powers of your inner eye, which uses all your
senses to coordinate the action. Using all your senses makes it easier to use your imagination. You
imagine where the target is, you imagine the ball position, you imagine how the tossing motion will
feel, and you imagine how the ball will fly.
As you continue to train with your eyes closed, you will inevitably experience the proper images time
and time again. As you continue to experience how proper imagery produces the desired
performance, you'll learn to trust in your powers of imagery. So, you simply need to incorporate your
natural tossing skills into your golfing images. This will require the use of your dominant hand and
your powers of imagery. So, let’s get to it, let’s learn how to play shots naturally and athletically.
This is the table of contents from Wedge Play. It may give you
some insights as to the topics covered in the New Horizons Golf
Approach Pocket Coach Volume Eleven.
Table Of Contents
Part One – Playing Around The Green
Know The Shots
Make A Choice
Imagine The Shot
Identify The Feel
Put It Into Action
The Strength Of Imagery
Part Two – Training The Shots
Cut Under Shots
Brush The Wood
Train, Train, Train
Part Three – The Summary
Review The Shots
Let’s Play Golf
Let’s Play G-O-L-F TM
Playing for a target score is only one way of implementing an on course strategy. I believe to truly
play the game you cannot worry so much about your scoring strategy. I think everyone is aware of
how well they are scoring, and they know they need to score as low as they can. So, since the idea
Truly playing the game involves feeling a game that fascinates you. It involves striving to play the
type of game you usually dream of playing. It’s about finding out your potential and
manifesting it in your play. It’s about engaging yourself in the ongoing drama of sport. It’s about
absorbing yourself into the possibility of expressing your true potential.
It’s about Gaming Out Life’s Fascinations.
So, when you walk out on the golf course, I’m inviting you to take the plunge, to go for it. I’m inviting
you to play golf without putting so much emphasis on scoring low. Win or lose, score low or high,
enjoy the adventure, keep a good attitude, and take something away from every round that makes
you a more accomplished golfer.
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