Controlling Trajectory with Distance Wedges

One of the many skills that set professional golfers apart from amateurs is precision with their distance wedges. Elite golfers have tremendous distance control inside of 60 yards because they are able to control the trajectory and spin. Since shots within 75 yards represent 50% of the game, this is critical to scoring well.

Saying that elite golfers are more accurate than amateurs isn’t a remotely groundbreaking statement. But it isn’t just the execution of the shot, it’s the intent of the shot. 

A common misconception of high-handicap golfers is that maximizing launch angle on distance wedges is the easiest way to stop the ball. Pros know that this is not the case. Instead of compressing the ball with lofted clubs, amateurs often try to slide the face under the ball. This increases launch angle, but at the expense of spin and, often, accuracy. 

An important component of executing precise wedge shots isn’t just controlling distance and launch direction (left and right), but launch angle. Here’s Rapsodo advisor Mark Blackburn: 

So how do you go about doing this? As Jordan Spieth told Golf Digest, “don’t hit your wedge shot higher than necessary to carry an obstacle.” 

Here’s Piers and Andy from Me and My Golf demonstrating how to put this into play:

If possible, the best application for this type of practice is on-course. Not only will this help you understand how your ball reacts on the green with different spin and trajectory, but hitting off of real turf (not mats) will offer more realistic feedback of your quality of strike. 

One of the benefits of a Mobile Launch Monitor is the ability to gather data wherever you’re playing.  

Experimenting with how to change your trajectory isn’t just a path to better scoring, but better practice as well.  Understanding how to manipulate path and face angle to produce different shots is one of the most efficient ways to improve your skill as a golfer.  

Next time you’re working on your distance wedges, try focusing on controlling your launch angle. Even if you’re not ready to implement on the course, creating an additional constraint to your session will immediately improve your practice quality and enhance skill acquisition.