As you work on your technique it is important to be able
to measure your progress so that practice doesn’t become
complacent and you always are working on improving your
results relative to a physical target.
One of the training stations at the Mike Bender Elite
Golf Academy is our Wedge Range. Mike Bender designed this
wedge range at the beginning of 2007 and it already has been
copied by more than 100 other facilities around the world.
The original idea was to create a practice area where
Mike’s long-time student, Zach Johnson, could sharpen his
wedge game. What Mike came up with is eight cement blocks
each made of a 4-foot by 4-foot slab of concrete, placed in
10 yard increments – from 30 to 100 yards – scattered across
the practice range. This set up forces the student to have
to re-set their aim and alignment each time they change
yardages so they have to create the same preparation for
each shot that they would have to use if they were playing
the golf course. The idea is to see how many tries it takes
to hit all eight blocks on the fly.
Our junior students who train here every day, take the
Wedge Range challenge once a week to see how many blocks
they can hit in 100 balls. Some may only get to the 50- or
60-yard block in 100 attempts and that becomes their “course
record.” Their goal is to improve on that number each time
that they attempt the challenge.
During Zach’s first practice session on the wedge range,
it took him 168 shots to hit all eight blocks. After months
of practice, he set his personal record by hitting all of
the blocks in only 50 shots. In April 2007 at the Masters,
Johnson laid up to his preferred wedge distance on every par
5, birdieing 11 of the 16 par-5 holes to win the MASTERS
tournament and secure his first green jacket. Since that
time, Zach has been considered one of the best wedge players
on the PGA Tour.
If you want to improve your wedge play, practice to
similar fixed targets (even cones on set on your range are
helpful) and you will find it much easier to see improvement
when you head out onto the course.
Email Cheryl Anderson