The 10 Best Golf Wedges
Understanding The Different Kinds Of Wedges
Lob wedges have the highest loft of all wedges, generally in the 60 to 64 degree range.
The most commonly used wedge is the pitching wedge. It will generally have a loft between 44 and 50 degrees, which is the lowest of all the wedge types. For those who don't know, a club's loft is what controls the trajectory and greatly affects the distance of the ball. A pitching wedge can be used for full shots into the green and long chip shots. When swung with proper form, a pitching wedge should send the ball somewhere between 110 and 140 yards. These days, most club sets will include a pitching wedge towards the lower spectrum of the loft range. Since they tend to create a lower trajectory than the other wedge types, the ball will still have some roll on it after hitting the ground.
The next wedge most commonly found in the average golfer's bag is the sand wedge. Sand wedges will usually have a loft between 54 and 58 degrees. While they were originally designed solely to help players escape sand traps, they are actually quite versatile and can be used to hit from the rough or the green, too. They tend to have a shorter shaft than other clubs, which helps when trying to put some spin on the ball. For the average player, 90 yards is the maximum distance with a sand wedge.
Filling the loft range between the pitching and sand wedge is the aptly-named gap wedge, although it may sometimes be referred to as the attack or utility wedge. Gap wedges will usually have a loft ranging from 50 to 53 degrees. Of course, if you have a pitching wedge with a 45 degree loft, and a sand wedge with a 54 degree loft, a club with a 48 degree loft might be used as your gap wedge. Any wedge that helps you fill the distance gap between your pitching and sand wedges can be considered your gap wedge. Gap wedge shots should travel between 90 and 110 yards when hit properly, making them useful when a shot is too long for a sand wedge, but too short for a pitching wedge.
Lob wedges have the highest loft of all wedges, generally in the 60 to 64 degree range. Because of the high loft, they pop the ball up into a very high trajectory, making them ideal when you need to get a lot of height very quickly. The high loft also helps players get a lot of spin on a ball, making them a good choice when you are near the green and need to hit a precise shot under 70 yards and have it land with minimal roll.
It's All About The Bounce
In addition to loft, another term you may hear bantered about when discussing wedges is the bounce. As with loft, this refers to a specific property of the club that affects how it plays. The little curvy bit on the sole of a wedge is it's bounce. The term bounce refers to all elements of that design: the angle, sole width, leading edge, rock, and the camber. The bounce angle is one of the most important aspects, as it determines how deeply the sole digs into the turf or sand during your swing, thereby dictating how much it stops your swing's momentum. Wedges with a lot of space between the ground and the leading edge when in the address position have a high bounce, those with a little space have a low bounce.
In addition to loft, another term you may hear bantered about when discussing wedges is the bounce.
Any wedge with a bounce between two and six degrees is considered low bounce. Low-bounce wedges will also usually have a narrow sole width. They are best for firm turf conditions, tight lies, and bunkers with little, or very coarse, sand. Players who have a shallow attack angle through impact will benefit from a low-bounce wedge.
Standard, or mid-bounce, wedges have a bounce angle between seven and 10 degrees. These offer the most versatility to suit a range of playing styles and conditions. For most golfers, they will be the best choice, especially if you want to keep your club collection down to a minimum. Those who like to play an open face out of the bunker or who have a very steep attack angle will definitely like how standard bounce wedges hit.
High-bounce wedges have a bounce angle between 10 and 18 degrees. They will generally have a wider flange that, when combined with the high bounce angle, makes them ideal for soft turf or sand, where you want to prevent digging so you have a smooth gliding action through your swing. If you have a tendency to dig in at impact, a high-bounce wedge is a smart choice.
Do You Really Need So Many Different Wedges?
After learning about all of the different types of wedges, you may be wondering if it really matters which you choose to play with, especially if you aren't that great of a golfer to begin with. The truth though, is that using the right wedge, at the right time, can make a huge impact on your game. In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, he identified the putter, driver, and wedge, in that order, as the three most important clubs. Considering he coached quite a few hall of fame players, he probably knows what he is talking about. Professional golfer Bob Hogan, who is largely considered one of the best players ever, also said the same thing, though he named the driver as most important, and the putter as second.
Studies have shown that nearly a quarter of all shots are played with a wedge. That means that on an average 18-hole course, players who hit par will use their wedges roughly 18 times. Now considering that only five percent of golfers can consistently break 80, and only 25 percent can consistently break 90, most players will use a wedge, or should be, as many 25 times per 18-hole round. If just a quarter of those shots put you in a good enough position to take one less swing on a hole, you might be able to bring your score down by six or more strokes. All of a sudden just reaching for a pitching wedge in every situation doesn't seem like such a great idea any more, does it?