In club designer Bob Vokey's vast experience there are three kinds of wedge player - the digger, the slider and the picker.
I met the 71-year-old Canadian at Archerfield Links, east of Edinburgh, where he was revealing the research behind his Titleist SM4 Vokey spin-milled wedges and took the opportunity to have a lesson with the former playing professional, who has made wedges for the greats of the game including Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros and Lee Trevino.
The digger, he says, usually describes the weekend golfer.
"They come at it with a steeper angle of attack, the ball back in the stance and use the leading edge way too much to get the ball airborne," he says. "They never make full use of the design that's built into the modern wedge."
"The slider is the better player who uses the bounce that's built into the club - four, six, eight degrees, sometimes more - to slide the clubface under the ball and let the loft and the bounce determined the length and trajectory of the shot."
Vokey told me that I'm what he describes as a picker but if I practice more and learn to use the wedge in the way it was designed, I could become a slider!
"A picker is a golfer who uses wrist action too much to play wedge shots," he said. "They try to pick the ball off the surface. Occasionally they'll play good shots but they tend to lack consistency."
Quite aptly, that was me to a tee!
"You have to let the bounce be your friend when you use the wedge," says Vokey, who built 'Bob's Custom Shop' in San Diego in 1976 and after spells with TaylorMade and Founders Club began specializing in wedges with Titleist in 1996.
His tip for me and for other diggers and pickers out there is very straightforward:
1. Position the ball in your stance, so it's pretty much central in your stance
2. Keep your hand position neutral, not in front of the ball and not behind it.
3. Imagine the butt of the club pushing into your left shoulder (as illustrated). Drop the left hand into position as if holding the club normally, grip the clubhead in the palm of your right hand and push the butt into your shoulder. Make a gentle swing and feel the butt turning the left shoulder away to the left.
4. Make full use of the loft and bounce by making a shallow swing into the ball.
5. Make an easy swing and let the bounce be your friend!
Article first published in January 2012.