"Full Swing" Wedge Shots
I have written a number of times about what it means to hit a shot "full", particularly with the wedges and short irons. If there is anything I observe in golfers who have trouble scoring, it’s that they swing too hard, particularly when they have the shorter clubs in their hands. Today I’m writing about the notion of a "full swing" when it comes to the scoring clubs. And this post is prompted by a question from John P., who asked:
I'm one of those longer hitters, but I have difficulty taking full swings with much more than a 50 degree club. For me, taking a full swing with a high-lofted club leads to inconsistent distances. I've accepted this as reality for wedges, but is it really? I've learned over the last year or so to quit over-swinging my short irons, such that the full swing is no more than 90%, but that's still too much with wedges. Does everybody experience this, or am I potentially missing some full swing shot options?
Well, John, my guess is that your "problem" comes from the notion of just what a “full swing” really is – is it the length of the swing or the applied power to the swing?

Let’s dive right into that starting from the tee. With a driver in your hands, you’ll have your fullest "full swing". The added length of the club and your quest for optimum distance will allow/cause you to take the club all the way back to parallel at the top, or maybe even longer depending on your flexibility, and the developed clubhead speed will take you to a complete follow-through. As you move the hybrids and middle irons, the swing length becomes a slightly shorter, as these are more of control clubs. When you have short iron or wedge in your hands, the length of the backswing is shorter still. That makes sense, right?

But from your inquiry, my guess is that you are more confused about "full" as it applies to swing power, not length of backswing. And golf is a game played best at about 80% of what you THINK your full swing power really is.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the inspiration I took from playing with "the girls" at our NCAA golf tournament College-Am. And I am outspoken that I think the LPGA and Futures Tours put on a much better show that the PGA Tour. At least if you look at it from the perspective of "what can I learn?" The ladies just do not have the strength, particularly in the upper body, as the men. So they have to optimize the strength they do have, and they get there by focusing on rhythm and timing.

If all the body parts are doing what they are supposed to do . . . when they are supposed to do it . . . the golf swing is by design a very powerful action. But being men, most amateur players try to muscle the ball with their upper body strength, and therefore fall waaaay short of optimizing that strength. How else can a 115 lb LPGA tour player average 250-260 off the tee, when most male amateurs of much greater strength cannot hit it past 225? It’s not about muscle power, I can assure you.

John, I suggest you change your thinking about “full swings” to make that about an 80% application of what you think your full swing power really is; and then throttle back from there with the scoring clubs. You will immediately see better trajectories and distance control on your short irons and wedges.

Any bio engineers out there?

In a discussion about this very topic yesterday, I espoused that I thought the LPGA and better collegiate ladies were longer hitters than anyone on the PGA Tour, if you could create a formula for developing a ratio of driving distance/clubhead speed as a factor of "body strength". The men have made working out such a part of the modern golf game, they have tremendous body strength. So, I opined, if a fit 115 lb lady can hit it 250, then an equally fit male player of 1-1/2 times that, or a typical 175 lbs, should be able to hit it 375 right? But that isn’t happening.

In my observation and opinion, the combined power of proper timing, leveraging the golf club and dead solid impact is much more influential on the distance you can hit it, than is body strength.

That should give us plenty to talk about this week, huh? And if you have an idea of how we can quantify this, please contact me directly via the "Ask" button below.

* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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