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October 2001: The Texas Wedge

The “Texas Wedge” is the common expression given to using a putter from off the putting surface. These are several instances when the use of the Texas wedge will outperform chipping:
  1. When the fairway is mowed fairly tight and the ball is sitting down slightly.
  2. When you are lacking confidence in your chipping stroke.
  3. When you have a sandy lie.
  4. Let’s address these individual situations.
1. When the fairway is mowed very short and the ball is sitting down slightly your tendency is to try to “scoop” the ball allowing the lower hand to “flip” forward causing you to scuff behind the ball. Retief Goosen found himself in this very situation on the 18th hole in the playoff for the US Open against Mark Brooks. Johnny Miller said “Retief could very easily “chili dip” that chip from there.” Retief then calmly took out his putter, and proceeded to two-putt for the victory. With such a lot of pressure on the shot, this was the perfect club selection. 2. Some golfers lose confidence in their chipping stroke from time to time. If you are playing an important match and have a key chip, the putter is a safer bet to get the ball onto the putting surface, and near the hole. 3. Sandy Lie. This is a particularly tough shot when you are close to the putting surface, and using the putter is much safer than trying to chip the ball with a lofted club, where you could hit the shot fat. (or skull it trying not to hit it fat!) In order to judge the speed correctly, calculate the distance from your ball to the edge of the green, and add that distance onto the putt.

For instance in picture above my ball is 4 feet off the putting surface and also 20 feet from the hole. When doing my practice swings, I look at a spot 4 foot beyond the hole, getting the feel of a 24 foot putt, thus making up for the loss of speed as the ball travels through the fringe. Try the putter next time you find yourself in one of these situations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Remember, the area between the edge of the green and your ball must be fairly smooth. If not, it may be time to use a fairway wood, but we’ll cover that next month.

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