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3 easy keys to install short shots

Grandmaster Justin Thomas reveals the secrets of playing the wedge.

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Whenever I play a round and hit a bad shot, I quickly remind myself of something that many GOLF Top 100 teachers have stressed to me: “Just try to win within 100 yards.”

It seems so…simple.

While actually getting within 100 yards can be a struggle at times – due to a bad tee shot or approach shot – a masterful touch with your wedges and putter will always give you a chance to score.

So how can you achieve that? A good place to start is by listening to two-time major champion Justin Thomas, who offers some simple 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 with wedge shots

In the video above, Thomas breaks down a few key aspects of hitting a shot less than 100 yards.

He starts with a shot 85 yards from the fairway, then one from the same distance in the rough and closes with a difficult shot over the fairway 35 yards to the outside.

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

“I have 85 yards and less [head] the wind,” said Thomas. “It looks like I hit the backstop, so I have a 60-degree wedge here and I can play this a couple of different ways.”

Next, Thomas suggests how to approach this shot, focusing more on his ball flight.

If you want to dial in your 100-yard wedge shots, try this simple adjustment for better ball contact and ball flight.

This 1 adjustment will help you hit 100 yard wedge shots


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“With that backstop, it’s one where I’d like to fly 86 or 87 yards, be aggressive, and be a little to the right of the hole,” he adds. “I’m going to use a regular plane, but it’s going into the wind, so I might have to hit it hard.

“For me, I like to slow down so I can control the spin. You want to be able to spin it more if you need to, but, to me, it seems like I’m trying to take it away instead of adding it.”

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

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

Thomas says: “This picture changes a lot when you are in grief. “A lot of it is just learning lies, which is something that as a player, over the years of playing, you understand what lies will do.”

Next, Thomas describes two different types of lies – one where more than half of the ball sits below the grass, and another where the ball sits above the grass.

“Open up [the one sitting beneath the grass], there wouldn’t be a lot of pitching, and it would probably be high and kind of a knuckleball that wouldn’t do much when it landed,” he said. “Open up [the ball sitting up more]being on the ground, if I get a good lie like this and I can get to the ball first, I can still spin that.”

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

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

A common problem experienced by beginners in shooting wedges is the tendency to lean and try to pick the ball up in the air. This can lead to sculling or curling.

“Obviously, I treat this picture differently than your average freshman,” Thomas said. “I think when the novices see a basement like this where they need to go through, they just go back and try to pick it up – but that’s not what makes a backspin or anything good.”

He says the most important thing is to focus on your angle of attack, making sure you hit the ball down to generate the spin you see pros like him use around the greens.

“The more you hit the ground, the more backspin you generate,” Thomas said. “So this is where you can be aggressive.”

If you're facing a golf slump, don't guess how to hit a shot, use these tips from GOLF Top 100 Teacher Josh Zander instead.

2 easy setup tweaks to overcome tricky downhill lies


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Thomas explains about learning the lie, noting that it should be an important part of your game plan from the get-go – and shares how his shot and technique changes when it’s downhill versus uphill.

He says: “The lie is the most important thing to make the gun easier or harder.

“If I’m down and up, it will make this shoot easier for me. But when I get here and it’s a little low and the ball is sitting on the ground, my strategy and how I’m going to score this goal just changed.”

Overall, Thomas says that in order to be successful at shooting wedges under 100 yards, you need to have technique, trust it and be confident when you talk to 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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