Daly’s Dynamite Lob-Wedge Game

usgtf-thumbI’m sure you’d admit that John Daly is the “everyman” of golf – a PGA Tour player your students most love to watch blast drives 300-plus yards.

As long as Daly is off the tee, he has often been criticized by the game’s purists for his unorthodox driving technique, namely his extra-lengthy backswing. Ironically, Jack Nicklaus, Daly’s golf idol, was also mocked in his early days for both his flying right elbow at the top of the swing and exaggerated leg drive on the downswing. However, all criticism stopped when Big Jack started winning major championships.

Well, watch out golf world, because in light of Daly’s dazzling performance in 2004, the former PGA and British Open champion is back, and looking to chalk up some more major victories in the near future.

Having worked with “J.D.” on the book, Grip It And Rip It! I admit that there are some things he does when driving that I would not recommend you try teaching a club-player, particularly a beginner. However, when it comes to the wedge game, there are a bunch of shots Daly hits that I would surely advise you to share with your students. One such shot is the buried bunker lie. Let me tell you what to tell your students about playing this shot, based on what Daly taught me.

In recovering from a buried lie, the main thing you must convey to your student is the importance of getting the leading edge of the club under the level of the ball, so that the sand pushes the ball forward and out. Daly’s secret to success involves using a lob wedge instead of a sand wedge.

According to Daly, the lob wedge can be a tremendous benefit for two reasons.

1. The lob wedge features about four degrees more loft than a sand wedge, so you automatically get more loft on the shot out of a buried lie. This is a distinct advantage, considering most shots hit normally fly low and run “hot.”

2. The lob wedge has less bounce built into the flange than most sand wedges, so it will tend to dig into the sand (and underneath the ball) more readily without the need to shut down the sand wedge to take loft off the clubface.

The net result of using the lob wedge, hinging the wrists early on the backswing, and pulling the club down so it slaps the sand about an inch behind the ball, is that you will hit a shot that floats over the lip and lands softly.

Tailoring The Tip: If you have a student who chips with a variety of clubs yet fails to get up and down most of the time, have he or she try doing what Daly does: Hit all types of chips with a lob wedge. Daly’s general rule is as follows: If you want to hit a low, running chip play the ball back in your stance with your hands ahead, and keep them forward of the ball through impact.

If you want to hit a lofted chip shot, play the ball up in your stance with your hands slightly behind the ball, and concentrate on turning the right hand under the left through impact. Daly believes that practicing and perfecting one chipping club makes more sense than trying to master several clubs. This logical philosophy is catching on with Tour players, with many switching to the lob wedge when hitting greenside chips.

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