There's nothing more tough to gauge than those awkward 1/2 wedge shots and short distances. I know how far my clubs go when I hit them full, but when I have a shot like a 40-50 yard pitch, figuring out how hard to hit it or even what club to use is tough. Here's one way to hit the 40 yard shot.
We are going to use a 56 degree club, or sand wedge for this shot. It is tempting to use a lob wedge yes, but we are using the sand wedge.
We will place the ball in the middle of our stance to perhaps 1-3 inches toward the front foot. Don't set the ball up too far toward the back foot as this will effectively deloft the sand wedge and turn it into a longer club.
The face of the club or the blade will be aimed at the target. In other words, the blade will be perpendicular to the intended target line.
Our feet will be setup for this shot is with a slightly open stance, weight more on the front foot at about a 30-70 ratio.
We will swing the wedge back about half way. We will not be cocking the wrists. It is important to make sure that the plane of the club is never extreme on the outside or inside of the line. Bring the club back fairly straight from the ball.
In the downswing we will accelerate through the ball. Do NOT slow the club down in fear of hitting the ball too far. This will produce all sorts of bad results!
The follow through will be low, about 1/3 to 1/2. Make sure on the follow through that the club stays on a similar straight line without finishing outside the line or way around the body.
It may seem uncomfortable or foreign at first, but take a small bucket of balls on the range and try a handful of these shots with the techniques and setup above. Once you have it down you can confidently hit that uncomfortable half wedge shot from 40-50 yards and save par, or even better make birdie!