The rough around here has been quite thick lately. The course operators and superintendents love their green grass. That means some thick lies with bent or bluegrass here. It is quite tough to chip shots around the greens in thick grass and I try to use my putter whenever I can because it is much easier to control the distance. The problem with using the putter is that grass gets between the club face and the ball, creating all sorts of unpredictable results.
In a case where there is grass behind the ball, like when the ball is up against the 2nd cut, I’ve had great results using a putting stroke with a “bellied” sand wedge. I know this isn’t a “new” technique by any means, but it has been particularly useful lately. Let’s talk about it.
The club of choice is the sand wedge. Why? The sand wedge is the heaviest club in the bag. This will help the club pass through the grass easier.
The setup is easy. Setup like you are going to putt the ball, using a putting grip. Open the blade of the wedge until it is flat (see picture). Square the blade of the wedge up to the target line and position it at the equator of the ball.
Use a putting stroke, definitely NOT a chip stroke or swing. Keep the position of the blade (at the equator) through the stroke. The blade of the wedge will cut through the grass and make solid contact with the ball. The ball will roll like a putt.
The bellied sand wedge is a great option around the greens and has been a stroke saver for me lately. The ball comes out clean, with a predicable and moderately controllable speed. I can get it much closer to the hole this way than chipping.