Six Ways to Master Your 50-80 Yard Golf Shots

Many golfers dread the 50-80 yard lob wedge shot. So much, in fact, that they'd rather lay up to 100 yards, even though statistically they'll score better from a shorter distance -- if they can master the shot. But with any shot that requires less than a full swing, we can get a little nervous and jerky. Below are six keys to mastering the shot.

1. First of all, purchase a cup and flag set and find a place to hit 50-80 yard shots. Do the repetitions.  Place a group of balls at five yard increments.  Get a feel for the distances. Nothing will boost your confidence like many repetitions. And it's good to have as realistic a target as possible. Nothing is more realistic than a flagstick.

2. Read the lie. You may not want the lob wedge, if you have a tight lie. For instance, very tightly mown fairway. Or hardpan. In my area of the country, we have a lot of clay soil, which makes for very wet conditions in the spring and hardpan in the summer. With wet conditions, it's easy to hit the ball fat. On hardpan, it's easy to hit it thin. Try practicing your sand wedge and your gap wedge. Is 70 yards a half sand wedge? Three quarters sand wedge? 

3. If you're going to play a course with tight lies, put a lob wedge with less bounce in your bag, say 4-6 degrees. According to Bob Vokey, Titleist's wedge master, "Wedge bounce is the angle created between the leading edge and the lowest point of the sole or trailing edge. This is the area of the club that hits through the ground as it contacts the ball."

4. Try to have your hips, your shoulders, and your arms all moving together. Try to have these three things all in synch. Don't get too armsy or you'll be likely to pull the shot left. 

5. Grip down on your club to take distance off it. Open up the face a little. And don't take it back very far, so you'll accelerate through the shot. Weight forward 65/35. I know. That's technically four things. Practice them enough so you don't have to think about them.

6. Finally, don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself to hit it close. Just aim for the green. You WILL hit some close. As you get better, you'll hit many close. But just try to hit the green.