WHO: Kyle Stanley
WHAT: A 65-yard wedge into the water
WHEN: Final round of the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open
WHERE: 570-yard par-5 18th hole at Torrey Pines
Golf is easy looking in the rearview mirror. Still, it's hard to understand how Stanley couldn't make a double-bogey at 18, which would've given him the title. It took several huge mistakes for Stanley to make an eight, which dropped him into a playoff that he lost to Brandt Snedeker.
Stanley's mistakes included laying up with his second shot instead of blasting his second shot at or over the green; hitting a wedge approach with so much spin that it sucked back off the green and into the water; and finally, three-putting. The wedge into the water might be the shot that Stanley most regrets, because hitting a no-spin wedge from 65 yards is easy.
THE DRILL: To take the spin off a wedge, you've got to radically decrease the angle of attack into the ball by using what I call a "sweepy" instead of a steep release. You also need to move the ball a little further back than normal in your stance and shift your weight a little more to the target side than you would do with a standard shot.
To practice no-spin wedges, take practice swings by holding the club with only your right hand. Hold the club at the bottom of the grip so that your right hand (for a right-hander) touches both the grip and the shaft; the butt end of the grip should be near the middle of your right forearm. Make a little backswing and sweep through impact. Just after impact, the butt end of the shaft should hit your right forearm and the shaft should align down your arm. The club and your right arm should remain in that synchronized position for the first half of the follow-through. I like doing this drill without a ball, but you can hit shots using the same technique.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brian Manzella teaches at English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans.