I've been wrong all this time and I had no idea. Those aren't words I catch myself saying very often, but I did happen to find myself saying that recently ... and as I look out over the wintery wonderland that just appeared out of nowhere, I now have the time to put my wonderings down for you all to read.
So, I had this idea a while back that my wedge game wasn't in terrible shape but could stand to be a little better. I started to sort out different ideas to research on how to make myself into a poor man's Phil Mickelson when it came to working wedge wizardry around the greens, and then in my email came something from PXG. I had no idea #BobParsons could read minds!
The email virtually screamed at me once it appeared on my screen: HOW TO GAP YOUR WEDGES. My first thought was almost a defensive one, as I was absolutely sure I had the correct set up for that end of my bag. Apart from the standard pitching wedge (mine comes in at 46°), I have been carrying a 52°, 56° and 60° for the last few year. I thought that would give me plenty of options from 125 yards and in, and for the most part it has.
But as I read the email, I began to wonder if I was asking too much of my short game with that set up. The formula they mention is a simple one, and it goes like this:
Say you have four wedges in your bag. You hit your 60-degree wedge 85 yards and your 9 iron 145 yards. That means you need to cover 60 yards across four wedges in 15-yard gaps. In this scenario, you should have lofts set to hit your sand wedge 100 yards, gap wedge 115 yards, and pitching wedge 130 yards.
So by this logic, I shouldn't be hitting my highest wedge more than 85 yards and my 9 iron about 145. I'm covered with my 9 iron (I hit mine about 140 yards), but the other end of the spectrum had me wondering if I was getting the most out of my 60° lobber. Then it occurred to me that I only tend to use that club when I'm right around the green and not for an approach of any great distances.
And then it hit me that I'm basically giving away one club in my bag for a hyper-focused purpose that is probably THE hardest thing for an amateur hacker like myself to pull off in recreational golf: the greenside lob chip. When I thought about it some more, I came to the conclusion that I may have pulled off that shot three or four times total in the four years I have used my current set of wedges (and surely not more than double that the entire time I have played this great game).
I tracked back in my mind to one of my last rounds this year when I joined my wife's uncle Don at the London Hunt Club for a round. I had been struggling with my short game since the leaves turned colours, so I started to try different things. One such experiment was to hood my 60° wedge and treat it more like a 58 or 57° one. I told myself that if I was in grass short enough to use my putter around the greens that I would putt ... but if I needed any kind of carry, this was going to be my approach.
The success I had was somewhat limited, but I was very encouraged by what I was seeing: shots were checking up, and I was feeling much more in control of what I could accomplish. The capper on the day was my final shot into the 18th green. My approach had come up shy and I was at the bottom of the hill, so I couldn't see the pin. I walked up and got a sense of where I thought I wanted to hit to, then landmarked it with something I knew I could find from where I was shooting from. I gave it a half-swing with the 60°, and the reaction I got from my playing partners told me it was in good shape. I walked up to find my ball about 20 or so feet away from the hole, but I had negotiated several tricky swales and breaks.
I lipped the putt out. Yeah, that was an ouch.
But, if I had tried to be Phil and drop one in there from above I'm not sure what would have happened. Besides, it was still a par for me and I was good with that.
And now, back to Bob Parsons. So after thinking about my set-up and the small changes I made, I came to the conclusion that my set-up needs tweaking. Instead of trying to pull off every hero shot in the book, I should be playing for smarter shots (I can hear my friend Dan and I laughing about this already, since we say this to each other at least once a round when we get together). Instead of having the 52/56/60 split, I should perhaps think about a 50/54/58 rota instead. That way, the 58° club doesn't have to be saved JUST for around the greens but I would have it for that if I needed it.
Currently, I carry Callaway wedges in my bag but as I said, this was the fourth full season with them and they are starting to wear down. If I choose to replace them, I'm sure I'll have to experiment a little and see what works best. Perhaps Mr. Parsons will be able to convince me his Sugar Daddy wedges are the way to go, or maybe I'll give Cleveland Golf another chance after my failed 64° wedge experience from long ago (not the wedge's fault). There is always the temptation to give in and go Vokey, or PING or TaylorMade. And yes, I know Christmas was yesterday ... a lefty can dream, right?
So make a long-winded story short, I have learned my lesson.
Bob Parsons was right all along.