Titleist Tips: Lean the Shaft for More Consistent Distance Wedges

One of our favorite Team Titleist events last year was the exclusive short game experience we hosted with Layne Savoie and Dr. Rob Neal, the founders of WedgeCraft. The TT members who joined us at the Manchester Lane Test Facility were given a master class in wedge play, as Layne and Doc shared the results of their 6-year data collective. Beyond the numbers, Layne and Doc demonstrated how their findings can be put to practical use and they shared some amazing techniques that can help us all to get up and down more consistently. (Click here for a full recap of the WedgeCraft Experience).

One of the most eye-opening take-aways from the clinic was the notion of shaft lean in the wedge game. Leaning the shaft forward compresses the ball against the face of the wedge more, creating more friction and imparting more spin on the golf ball.

Forward shaft lean will also help you to create more consistent contact and more predictable launch conditions. We witnessed this in person as Layne hit a series low, piercing distance wedges that buzzed audibly with spin. You could throw a blanket over the dozen or so shots he landed at the far end of the Manchester Lane Short Game area.

To show how it's done, Layne was kind enough to share the drill above that he uses to ingrain shaft lean, proper impact and control over the golf club. Add this drill to your off-season training and let us know if it helps you to strike your wedges and irons with more consistency and authority.

And to learn more about Layne and Doc and the wealth of wedge play knowledge they’ve assembled, please visit WedgeCraft.com.

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Impact Drill

"If you walk down the length of the practice range at any Tour event, you won't see players just beating balls. What you will see is a lot of intentional practice rehearsals, a lot of thoughtful movements and a lot of focus. That's how you learn to control the club and build a repeatable action. The off-season is a perfect time to start practicing more like the pros by adding some intentional rehearsal reps into your routine." - Layne

To consistently hit solid, penetrating shots with their distance wedges, the best players in the world lean the shaft forward at impact by 10°-15°. Follow these steps to develop proper shaft lean, a sound impact position, better command over the golf club and a more penetrating ball flight.

  • Make a series of short, slow rehearsal swings to preview what forward shaft lean looks like on a distance wedge. The keys:
    • The left wrist (for a right-handed player) is flexed (bowed) through impact. The right wrist is angled back. Practice pre-setting your wrists and make some slow rehearsal swings, watching as the club head lags behind your hands.
    • Feel the connection of your lead arm up against the side of your chest. Maintain this connection throughout your swings.
    • Rotate your body to move your arms, hands and club. The object is to open your torso 45° to the target and your lower body even more through the shot. Feel like your entire body is opening up into impact.
    • Your hands should lead, be ahead of the clubhead at impact.
  • After multiple rehearsal repetitions, set up a foam barrier about a club length outside your lead hip, on your heel line. This barrier will abbreviate your follow-through and force you to keep the club under control.
  • Take some focused practice half-swings and then hit a ball, replicating the feeling you had in your rehearsal motions. The object is to control the club with your body rotation, lean the shaft forward at impact and flight the ball down, finishing with your hands just short of the foam barrier.
  • The more you rotate your body (and the more you're able to keep your arms and hands quiet), the easier it is to control impact and hit penetrating distance wedges that spin like the pros.
  • You can also apply this drill to your iron game to improve impact, contact and ball flight.