Research has shown that a quarter of all shots played by the average golfer are with a wedge. So, making sure you choose the right ones is vital to lowering your score. Here’s what you need to know when buying new wedges. Don’t forget to check our article about the best available wedges on the market too!
Most pros carry three or four wedges, to offer variation and selection to their short games, and they try to keep the loft degree gaps to around 4 degrees between each club.
Wedges can be divided into four main types: Pitching Wedges typically have a loft between 44-48 degrees and are used for full shots into greens and longer chip shots. Gap Wedges carry a loft of around 50-53 degrees and are used for pitches and longer chips. Sand Wedges, with a loft of 54-58 degrees, are used in green side bunkers or just around the greens. Lob Wedges have a loft of around 60-64 degrees and are used for chips and flop shots near the green and for the tricky bunker shots with high lip.
The loft of a wedge is the angle between the face of the wedge and an imaginary vertical line. The more loft on a wedge, the more elevation on your shot, resulting in a higher ball flight with less distance. So, this is important if you are looking to hit the ball with high, low or medium elevation.
The bounce of a wedge is the area of the club that hits the turf under the ball at impact. The most important element of this is the angle from the leading edge to the point where the sole meets the ground. This ‘bounce angle’ prevents a wedge from digging into sand or turf.
Low-Bounce Wedges have a bounce angle of 4-6 degrees and are suited to players who sweep the ball, taking a shallower divot. Mid-Bounce Wedges, at 7-10 degrees of bounce, are suited to a wide range of conditions and swing types. High-Bounce Wedges are best suited to players who dig at impact, taking deep divots.
Sole grind is the shaping of the sole of the wedge usually around the heel or the toe. Manufacturers offer a range of sole grinds as well as the standard wedge sole. They grind the soles with a machine to suit specific turf conditions or shots. For example, a heel grind allows the face to sit lower to the ground at address. Sole grinds also change the bounce of the sole.
Most wedges come with steel shafts unless the wedges are part of a graphite set of clubs. Most players will use the same shaft material in their wedges and irons for greater consistency. Most steel shafted wedges come with a standard ‘wedge flex’. This provides feel and accuracy in a short club where flex is less important. Some tour players, however, like to play softer flexes and heavier weights in their sand and lob wedges since these are more feel-oriented clubs. Also, If you are aggressive and rather quick, you should lean to a slightly stiffer flex; while a player with a more rhythmic tempo usually benefits from a slightly softer shaft flex.
The finish that you choose is down to personal taste and won’t have much effect on the feel. But there are differences in wear. Chrome or Nickel will maintain their colour and appearance longer. Unplated or raw finishes are designed to wear or rust more over time, which can improve friction and lead to improved spin.
Using wedges that have been specifically fit for your swing and the course conditions you mostly play is the fastest way to lower your score. Online fitting tools will help you select the proper loft, bounce, and grind for your game. Here are two examples: Vokey Design and Callaway.