Wedges–Swing Speed

A few days ago I left you all with a cliffhanger. I was going to experiment with a way to define different swing speeds as the third variable in my wedge game, loft and swing size being the other two. The results are in.

An electric metronome I have left over from my days as a musician (opera) divides tempo into increments of two beats per minute. So I turned on the metronome, started swinging at what I feel is a normal tempo for me, and kept adjusting the dial until I found the setting that matched my swing. One tick at takeaway, the second tick at impact. That turned out to be 52 beats per minute.

I slowed down my swing to what felt to be a repeatable slow swing, that is, a slower rhythm I could identify with in some way so when I wanted to pull out the “slow swing” consistently, this would be it. 44 beats per minute.

Finally, the fast swing, as fast as I thought I could swing and maintain control of the shot. 60 beats per minute.

Mind you, I did not choose these speeds, set them on the dial and swing to them. Quite the other way around. I started swinging and adjusted the dial until the machine matched up. How odd, though, that they came in even divisions of eight beats.

I took these tempi out to the range and hit six shots (full swing at three speeds and half swing at three speeds) with each of my four wedges. What I found was significant overlap. Too much overlap. I dumped the full swing and hit balls through the clubs and speeds again with just one swing size, the half swing, and got results that are still spread out, have a bit of overlap, but ended in more easily understood and remembered combinations that cover 95 yards down to 50 yards.

When I put the rights shots together I have a set of shots that give me clear 10-yard or so increments. Given the relatively few times that I pitch into greens, this might be a good enough place to stop. I’m an optimizer. Further refinement would not be the best use of my practice time.

The real short game for recreational golfers is from about 25 yards in. That’s where we can get our up-and-downs, and that’s where I’m going to spend the bulk of my short game practice time, like I did this morning.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.

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