WHO: Alvaro Quiros
WHAT: A hole-in-one with a pitching wedge
WHERE: 161-yard par 3 11th hole at Emirates Golf Club
WHEN: Final round of the Dubai Desert Classic
Last year, we all thought the grooves change (square grooves were outlawed on the professional tours) would make things harder for the pros. But the opposite has happened, and the game has become easier. That’s because the pros no longer have to worry about over-spinning approach shots and having the ball back up too far on them.
Quiros’s hole-in-one is a perfect example. The hole was cut into the front right section of the green, and there was only 25 feet between the hole and a huge front bunker. Quiros hit a massive wedge (I’d have needed an eight iron) that landed about 10 feet short of the hole and rolled forward. With the old square grooves, it’s likely that his ball would have spun back into the fringe and maybe off the green.
THE DRILL: There are two vital wedge keys to understand.
1. You must calculate the yardage for the conditions of the day. For tour pros, club yardages are always adjustable depending on things like temperature, wind and altitude. From 160 yards, a pro might hit a hard nine iron on one day and the next day, under different conditions, he might hit a soft pitching wedge.
2. You must focus on making solid contact and have a pure strike of the clubface into the ball. The clubface should never be open at any point in the swing, because if it’s open you are likely to fan the shot and hit it high, soft and to the right. Instead, try trapping the ball with the clubface somewhere between square and slightly closed at impact. To practice that, grab a wedge and try to feel like you are making the toe of the clubface come into the ball a little sooner than the heel. Not only will you hit the ball a little farther, but you’ll also hit it much more solidly.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mitchell Spearman teaches at Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook, N.Y.