Straight Off The Tee

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After teeing it up at Boulder Oaks with golfers sporting wide-ranging abilities, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone has trouble getting out of the thick rough. Since mastering this shot is critical for posting a good score, this problem confronted me right away. During my first few rounds at the “new” Oaks I carried a pitching wedge and two sand wedges—one 52 degrees loft and the other 55. Unfortunately I chipped the ball short or lined it over the greens on many occasions.
Determined to do better, I went down to the Thunderbird Driving Range, where they have thick grass (usually not a good thing at a range) like the Oak’s roughs. I took a bunch of wedges that have accumulated in my garage and tried them all, aiming at various flags and targets. After hitting a large bucket of balls a pattern began to emerge. I had great success using an old 65-degree wedge and a heavily back weighted 58-degree model for shots under 25 yards, or so. As long as I wasn’t shy and took a smooth, full swing, I could get out of the rough and near to my target area often. Switching back to wedges with lower loft degrees I noticed again it was harder for me to hit the targets because the ball didn’t come out as clean and also bounced more before stopping.
I also noticed that when I used wedges with higher lofts out of deep rough lies I had greater success when I teed the ball in front of my leading foot, had most of my weight on the leading foot, kept my hands in front of the ball, aimed left of the target, and opened up the club face before swinging firmly down on the ball.
Bingo. Back on the Boulder Oaks course I have found that over the past several rounds my short game has vastly improved. Using wedges with more degrees of loft and altering my stance has meant shorter puts, more par saves (even a few birdies) and a lower score. I am also having a lot more fun!

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