Justin Thomas: 3 simple keys to stuffing short wedge shots

Whenever I play a round and completely misfire a tee shot, I quickly remind myself something many GOLF Top 100 Teacher have stressed to me: “Just try to win within 100 yards.”

It seems so…simple.

While actually getting to within 100 yards may be a struggle at times — due to bad tee shots or chunked approach shots — having a masterful touch with your wedges and putter will always give you a chance to score.

So how can you accomplish that? A good place to start is by listening to two-time major champion Justin Thomas, who provides some easy tips on how to dial in wedge shots from within 100 yards in the video below (courtesy of Titleist’s YouTube channel).

3 things Justin Thomas says to do on wedge shots

In the video above, Thomas breaks down a few key aspects of hitting a wedge shot from under 100 yards.

He starts with an 85-yard shot from the fairway, then one from the same distance in the rough and closes with a difficult shot over a bunker from 35 yards out.

85-yard shot (from fairway): Determine your ball flight

“I’ve got 85 yards with a little bit of [head] wind,” Thomas says. “It looks like I’ve got a touch of a backstop, so I’ve got a 60-degree wedge here and can play this a couple of different ways.”

Next, Thomas suggests how he’d approach this shot, specifically focusing on his ball flight.

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“With that backstop, it’s one where I’d probably want to fly it 86 or 87 yards, be aggressive, and a little bit right of the hole,” he adds. “I’m going to use a pretty standard flight, but it’s into the wind, so I might have to hit it harder.

“For me, I like to flight my wedges down to be able to control the spin. You want to be able to spin it a lot if you need to, but, for me, it seems like I’m trying to take spin off as opposed to add it.”

85-yard shot (from rough): Read the lie

As any golfer knows, not all 85-yard wedge shots are created equal, so Thomas moves from the middle of the fairway to the rough, explaining what players must understand before making a club choice and deciding what type of shot they plan to hit.

“This shot changes drastically when you’re in the rough,” Thomas says. “A lot of it is just reading the lie, which is something that as a player, over the course of years playing, you understand what lies are going to do.”

Next, Thomas describes two different types of lies — one where more than half the ball is sitting beneath the top of the grass, and another where the ball is sitting more on top of the grass.

“On [the one sitting beneath the grass], there would not be a lot of spin, and it’ll probably be higher and kind of a knuckleball that won’t do much when it lands,” he says. “On [the ball sitting up more], being down grain, if I get a good lie like this and I can get on the ball first, I can still spin that.”

Thomas says that judging the lie often comes with years of experience, but that it’s something even novice players should understand how to do.

35-yard wedge shot over a bunker: Hit down on the ball to generate backspin

A common problem amateurs make on wedge shots is having a tendency to lean back and try to scoop the ball up into the air. This can lead to skulling or chunking.

“Obviously, I’m treating this shot a little bit differently than your regular amateur,” Thomas says. “I think when amateurs see a bunker like this where they need to go over it, they instinctively go back and try to scoop it — but that’s not what generates backspin or anything good.”

He says it’s most important to focus on your angle of attack, making sure you hit down on the ball to produce the spin you see pros like him use from around the greens.

“The more you hit down on it is actually how you generate that backspin,” Thomas says. “So this is one where you can be aggressive.”

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Thomas expounds on reading the lie, noting it’s should be a crucial part of your game plan from the rough — and then shares how his shot and strategy changes when on a downslope versus an upslope.

“The lie is the most important thing of making a shot easy or difficult,” he says.

“When I’m down grain on an upslope, it’s going to make this shot a lot easier for me. But if I get over here and it’s on a little downslope with the ball sitting down, my strategy and how I’m going to hit this shot just changed.”

Overall, Thomas says to excel on wedge shots from under 100 yards, you need to have a process, trust it and then be confident as you address the ball.

“At the end of the day, you have to be confident and comfortable in what you’re doing,” he says.

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