You’re 100 yards from the pin with wedge in hand and a big smile on your face — how much easier can it get?
But like a 100 times before, your easy wedge approach ends up 30 yards to the right or left of the pin, blowing what should have been an easy par.
You pulled it, right? Or did you push it? Depending on which side you missed it, both answers could be true. But the likely cause is that you botched your release byspeeding up your swing either too early or too late, forcing your clubhead to close (early release) or remain open (late release) through impact.
On delicate wedge shots, it’s easy to miss the proper acceleration point, because you’re not using your full-swing technique. So you either wait until too late in your downswing to reach max speed, or you step on the gas too early from the top. This affects your release (and clubface position) in an unusual way. Simply put, your arms accelerate and then slow down, and only at that point can your wrists overpower the inertia of the club and release it. So if your arms reach max speed early, your wrists will release the club too early and you’ll hit the shot left. The opposite happens if your arms reach maximum speed too late.
We asked Golf Laboratories, an independent testing and research facility in San Diego, for proof — and we got it. A robot was programmed to make full swings with a 52-degree wedge. On one set of swings, the robot was adjusted to reach maximum acceleration at the point scientifically earmarked to produce the most successful motion. On two other sets, the robot was adjusted to accelerate either too early or too late. On the late swings (with late releases), shots fell nearly 36 feet right of target on average; early releases resulted in shots that pulled left by as much as 60 feet.
Accelerating at the right point is easy for a robot. You, on the other hand, have your work cut out for you. But once you find the proper point, you won’t be leaving yourself 30- and 40-foot putts after a wedge approach. That’s when you’ll see fewer three-putts.