Most golfers understand their golf clubs, in particular their wedges, differ by loft - typically from a 45-degree pitching wedge up to as high as 64-degrees for the most extremely lofted lob wedge. But there is also another angle you need to be aware of, and that's a wedge bounce angle. As the name implies, the bounce enables the clubhead to bounce off the sand or grass without digging in before impact.
What is bounce?
On a sand wedge, for example, you'll see the leading edge sits off the ground when the club is in the address position. The gap created between the turf and the leading edge is the bounce angle - the bigger the gap, the larger the bounce.
If you want to learn more about what bounce is and how it works, please watch the video below or read the full article here.
What are the options?
If you think that a few degrees cannot change your game, then you'd be wrong. Using a wedge with the right combination of bounce and loft for the sort of course you play, and the kind of swing you have can make a big difference to your short game.
Although all golf clubs have a bounce angle of some degree, it is commonly only regarded as part of the buying decision when purchasing wedges. The actual degree of bounce will be a number, usually between 6-12, it can be simplified into three categories - low, standard, and high - with each one great at some things but not so good at others. Below is a guide on how each one will behave to help you pick the right bounce for your game.
Low Bounce Wedges
Low bounce wedge
Wedges with low bounce (less than 8-degrees) are ideal for shots from tight lies and firm turf conditions - think links golf and The Open Championship. The small bounce angle lowers the leading edge closer to the ground to put a premium on good ball-striking - most tour professionals will have a low bounce in their wedges.
As well as firm ground conditions, low bounce wedges are great for golfers will a shallow angle of attack. If you don't know what this is - think about your divots. If you pick the ball cleanly off the turf, barely bruising the ground through impact, then you've got a shallow angle of attack. The sweeping motion through the bottom of the swing drastically reduces the chance of the leading edge digging in, and therefore the need for a higher bounce angle.
Low bounce wedges are typically in the lower loft range – e.g. pitching and gap wedges used for longer approach shots. A lot of bounce would be undesirable because it would make it more challenging to get the leading edge under the ball, causing you to thin it.
Low bounce wedge can be great but only in specific circumstances - most golfers are better off with more bounce (10 to 14 degrees) - which brings us onto mid bounce wedges.
Mid Bounce Wedges
Mid bounce wedge
Wedges with a mid bounce angle (10 to 14-degrees) are the best all-around wedges for playability in all types of conditions and all golfers.
These wedges are very versatile for players who like to be creative around the greens. Mid bounce is also an excellent choice for players who like to play an open or square face out of the bunker as the dynamic bounce does not change too drastically. However, this is something to be aware off and is the start of the conversation around grind. You can read more about that below and here.
High Bounce Wedges
High bounce wedge
Wedges with high bounce angles (14-degrees plus) are primarily designed for soft ground conditions and sand. The combination of the wider sole and higher bounce angle prevents the leading edge from digging in through impact. They work exceptionally well out of (soft) sand for players who prefer to keep a straight face through impact.
High bounce wedges are also a good choice for players with steep attack angles - if you take large deep divots then look out for these wedges.
Determining the Bounce of a Wedge
Wedge with 58-degrees loft and 10-degrees of bounce
As buyers becoming more informed and there is more than one bounce option for each loft option the specific bounce angle for a wedge is stamped on the clubhead - somewhere near the loft. For example, a wedge stamped 52 08 will be 52-degrees of loft with 08-degrees of bounce - there could be a 52 10 wedge of the same model.
A wedge which is an extension of iron set don't usually have the bounce on them and will most probably fall into the mid or low category above.
But wait there's more
As mentioned above, as you rotate the clubhead for precise shots around the green, the dynamic bounce will change - opening the clubface will add bounce. However, the clever engineers at your favourite brand have come up with a concept call grind - the process of grinding away part of the sole (usually the heel) to keep the bounce consistent regardless of what the face is doing. If you want to read more about this, you can do so here.
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