Why I decided to buy the Orange Whip Wedge
I was born without a short game
You could say this about most people, but in my case it’s particularly true. To achieve my handicap (it ranges between 3 and 6), I rely exclusively on decent driving and very good iron play.
When I miss a green, I basically just give up on the possibility of making par
In my heart, I know that I only have a small chance of getting up and down (let’s call it 25%). Most of the time, I approach green side chips with a combination of sadness and fear. I get sad, because I can already feel the bogey coming. My fear stems from the yip-like chipping stroke that may or may not surface during the follow through.
I've been fighting a shank my whole life
I don’t tell people about my shank tendency. Every golfer knows that you’re not supposed to mention ‘the S word’. But the truth is, I’m very cautious when practicing at the short game facility of my home club.
If there’s someone near me on the right, I literally change my target to avoid the possibility of shanking it straight into them. I don’t shank it too often, but it happens often enough to leave a lingering sense of doubt whenever I swing through a short pitch.
Stan Utley Conceptualized the Orange Whip Wedge
It’s one thing when a brand approaches a player to endorse their product. It’s another thing entirely when a pro uses a brand’s products, and then suggests a new prototype that can help the pro teach people how to chip and pitch. In this case, Utley approached the creator of the original Orange Whip, in order to try out a similar concept with a wedge. The end result is the Orange Whip Wedge. Side note – Utley was giving Jim Hackenberg (the inventor of the Orange Whip trainer) lessons before suggesting the product collaboration.
I trust Stan Utley’s Short Game Expertise
I read and reviewed ‘the Art of the Short Game’ and it left me with a positive impression of Utley’s short game technique and character as a coach. Given that he holds the PGA tour record for the least number of putts over 9 holes (he only required 6 putts, thanks to 3 chip-ins), it’s safe to say that Utley practices what he preaches. Perhaps more importantly, what he teaches actually works.
It's easy to practice the wrong things if you don't have a coach
This is especially true with golf. It’s entirely possible to spend hundreds of hours honing the wrong technique. This is also why I’m such a sucker for training aids. If I can replace a coach with a training aid, I will do so in a heartbeat.
Most of the time training aids end up buried deep in my garage, but in the case of the Orange Whip Wedge and the G Force 7 Iron, I actually keep them in the bag more often than not.
It’s a fairly low risk purchase
Buying a training aid is not like investing in a driver or a new set of irons. The Orange Whip Wedge is just over a hundred dollars. By golfing standards, that’s pretty affordable, especially if it helps shave strokes off your game.
Does the Orange Whip Wedge Actually Work?
I have to be honest. My biggest breakthrough came after watching a video of Stan Utley explaining the proper way to follow through on a chip and a pitch (months after purchasing the orange whip wedge). Here is that video with the guys from me and my golf.
Stan Utley: “I was taught be a guy named Brian Allen, and he insisted that I finish low and short with my wedge shots.“
Getting back to the question at hand, the Orange Whip can definitely help you:
- Learn how to release the clubhead
- Start to feel how to use the bounce of the club
- Stop dragging the handle through impact
- Start honing a ‘mini-swing’ that is ideal for short game shots
With that being said, it’s not a miracle cure. You still have to put in plenty of practice time on the range.
Broad Overview of Stan Utley Chipping Technique
MOST IMPORTANT THING (For me at least)
You need to finish low and short
Utley also calls this turning the corner. It is arguably his most important contribution to short game golf instruction, and it actually stems for his college golf coach (Brian Allen). Think of it as an abbreviated follow through that finishes just past your left hip, rather than above your left shoulder.
As you can see from the image above, Utley’s hands are super low and very close to his hips after impact. I urge you to try and achieve this follow through position (with or without the Orange whip wedge). It’s almost impossible to achieve this position, without releasing the clubhead. Conversely, if you drag the handle through impact, it will end up way past your left hip. This tip alone is enough to start feeling Utley’s chipping technique.
There Is A Stopping Point
If you practice the abbreviated follow through that Utley advocates, you will find that your hands basically come to a stop, just past your left hip. Crucially, stopping the hands allows the clubhead to release. We’ve all been taught to keep our hands ahead of the ball. While a little bit of shaft lean at impact is a good thing, the most common result is that people don’t learn how to release the club when hitting short shots. The Orange Whip Wedge (and Utley’s technique) is all about learning how to release the clubhead in a controlled manner.
The Follow Through Is Not The Same As A Full Swing
With a full swing, your goal is to swing the club over your left shoulder when completing the follow through. With Utley’s short game swing, your goal is to swing the club around your left hip and stop. That’s a very different end point.
I’ve always been open to the idea that the short shots and full shots require the same basic swing, but that simply isn’t the case if you employ Utley’s short game method. It’s a completely different follow through move.
I must admit, I stopped using the Orange whip wedge after golf was banned due to Covid-19.
However, after re-watching the video of Utley describing his pitching technique, I had a short game breakthrough.
I am happy to report that my understanding of how to hit a chips and pitches has been irrevocably altered, in a good way. I’m not worried about hitting shanks any more. I finally have a better physical understanding of how to use the bounce of the club correctly. Basically, you should be aiming to hit the ground with the bounce of the club, rather than attacking the ball with a steep leading edge (let that simmer in).
A steep leading edge will cause you to hit fat chips and pitches. You will then overcompensate and start hitting them thin (believe me I’ve been there, and I’m still not immune to this tendency).
In essence, all you need to do is abbreviate the follow through, and finish the swing at your left hip. By ‘turning the corner’ and stopping at your left hip, the club will release naturally. You will start to get the feel of the club ‘skidding’ off the ground rather than digging into the turf. Shanks will become a forgotten memory and you will start to swing the club with authority, rather than taking a hesitant stab loaded with fear.
Ultimately the orange whip wedge can help accelerate your understanding of how to implement Utley’s chipping technique, but it is not a fundamental requirement for you to do so.