A wedge is a wedge, right? Well, not so hasty! Do you have a steep or shallow
attack into the ball, is the sand at your local golf course soft or hard, are
the fairways rock hard – or does it always rain where you live; is the rough
long or short, what sort of grass is it, do you prefer to run the ball up, or
throw it up high? Good wedge play is crucial to posting low scores. With drivers
now hitting the ball so far, you’ll find that the vast majority of shots during
a round are from within 120 yards. The top players realise this – and it’s not
unusual to see them carrying 3 or even 4 different wedges, practising with them
religiously for hours each day so they know precisely how far each one hits
in different conditions and from different lies. Many sets are now sold only
up until the pitching wedge (eg 3-PW), as the manufacturers know you may want
to choose your own sand, gap and lob wedges – so there is a huge array to choose
from. Here are some factors worth considering when choosing a wedge:
1: Wedge Loft
2: Wedge Bounce Angle
3: Wedge Finish
If you’re new to the game, you might be a little confused about the different
lofts available, so we’ll start with the basics:When we talk about wedges, we
really mean any iron in the set which has a loft over 45 degrees – in other
words, pitching wedge and above.
Pitching Wedge (PW)
This will usually come with any set of irons you purchase – although some
players do replace them anyway. It is the next most lofted club after the 9
iron. Typically has a loft of 46-50 degrees. Mainly used for longer shots into
the green – tournament players will hit a pitching wedge around 120 yards.
Gap or Approach Wedge (GW) or (AW)
On Golfbidder you’ll see them listed as Approach Wedges (AW). Slightly more
lofted than the pitching wedge, and filling the ‘Gap’ between the pitching wedge
and sand wedge with a loft of between 50-55 degree.
Sand Wedge (SW)
Typically 54-58 degrees. Mainly used for bunker play due to the high bounce
(see later). A tour player will hit a full a full bloodied sand wedge from the
fairway around 100 yards.
Lob Wedge (LW)
60 degrees and above – sometimes as high as 64 degrees. For throwing the
ball up very high from short distances - Phil Mickelson is, of course,
the expert at this.
The lofts most golfers opt for – are 56 degree and 60 degree. This is the
most popular combination to complement the pitching wedge which you’ll already
have in your set.
As the name implies, the 'bounce' (in layman's terms, the curvy bit on the
sole of the wedge) enables the head to 'bounce' out of the sand or rough without
snagging. On a sand wedge, for example, you'll see that the trailing edge hangs
below the leading edge. Take a club and put in the address position and you’ll
see a space between the ground and the leading edge of the wedge.
High space = High Bounce angle. The most bounce you'll ever see on a wedge
is about 18 degrees - but it can be as low as 2. Doesn't amount to a hill of
beans we hear you say. But there you'd be wrong. Using a wedge with the right
combination of bounce and loft for the sort of course you play and the sort
of swing you have can make a big difference to your short game. So how do you
decide what’s best? Here’s a quick guide – with thanks to Cleveland golf for
Low Bounce Wedges
Low Bounce Wedges are ideal for shots from tight lies and firm turf conditions.
The combination of less bounce and narrower sole-width lowers the leading edge
of the blade to promote a clean contact. Perfect for players who like to be
creative around the greens and in the bunkers and who have shallow attack angles
through impact. Less bounce and narrower sole width make it easier to open the
face and hit high, soft landing flop shots. Low bounce wedges are typically
in the lower loft range – eg pitching and gap wedges which are used for longer
A lot of bounce would be undesirable because it would make it more difficult
to get the leading edge under the ball, causing you to ‘thin’ it. Golfers who
strike down at a sharp angle can put a lot of back spin on the ball – and may
benefit using wedges with very little bounce (less than 8 degrees), but they
are a minority of golfers. As a rule, most golfers are better off with more
bounce (10 to 14 degrees), not less.
Standard Bounce Wedges
Standard Bounce is the best all-around wedge for playability in all types
of conditions for all types of players. It is very versatile for players who
like to be creative around the greens. The Standard Bounce is also an excellent
choice for players who like to play an open or square face out of the bunker,
and who have an average to slightly steeper attack angle.
High Bounce Wedges
High Bounce wedges are designed for play out of soft turf and sand. The combination
of the wider flange and higher bounce angle prevent digging and create a smoother
gliding action of the sole along the ground. Works exceptionally well out of
(soft) sand for players who prefer to keep a square face through impact.
High Bounce wedges are also a good choice for players with steep attack angles.
High bounce wedges tend to be associated with higher lofts – but this certainly
isn’t always the case. For example, lob wedges (60-64 degree) which throw the
ball very high for soft-landing ‘pop-up’ shots around the green (Phil
Mickelson's speciality) tend to have low bounce because even the smallest
error can make the club ‘bounce’ off the ground and cause a ‘thinned’ shot.
You know the sort well – instead of gently throwing the ball 10 feet in the
air and plopping it by the pin – it travels at warp speed a few inches above
the ground, lodging deep into thick bushes 50 yards behind the green. Lob wedges
tend to have less sole width and a sharp leading edge.
Determining the Bounce of a Wedge
Most of the specialist wedge manufacturers like Cleveland and Titleist will actually
state on the club what the bounce is (eg a Titleist Vokey 248.06 model indicates 48 degrees loft, 6 degrees bounce). Otherwise, the options are
to (a) refer to the manufacturer’s website or (b) as us here at Golfbidder –
we’d be happy to advise.
Apart from numerous different wedge models, you’ll also see them offered
in different finishes such as those below – examples include black nickel, chrome,
beryllium copper, rusty – or ‘raw’, oil can etc. The different the finish makes
on most wedges is mainly cosmetic – a case of which one do you most like the
look of. The only real practical exceptions are that (a) the duller-looking
finishes don’t reflect as much light in the sun which can occasionally be off-putting
and – (b) those with a ‘raw’ or ‘oil can’ finish are specifically manufactured
to rust over time; The more abrasive surface which results can claim to impart
slightly more spin on the ball.
We hope this brief guide has helped you understand a bit more about the wide
range of wedges on offer. There’s no substitute for trying a few out and seeing
what suits you best. All Golfbidder’s clubs comes with a No Risk Trial Period.
Try one that seems to fit the bill, if it’s not an improvement on your current
wedge, simply send it back for a full refund – or try something else.
If you need any further help or advice, feel free to contact our PGA-qualified Customer
Telephone: 0208 401 6901
They are here Monday-Friday 9-6 and will be more than happy to answer any