What is Wedge Bounce? High vs Low Bounce
Most golfers understand their golf clubs, in particular their wedges. They know they 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.
However if you already need to take a step back to wedges in general then read our buyers guide to wedges and then come back here once you're up to speed.
Knowing a little bit about bounce can help you enjoy your golf more, improve your shot game and make sure you having the right wedges in your bag for the type of golf you play.
What is bounce?
So what is this magical measurement of bounce? Its easier to understand than you might think. Bounce is how much the leading edge of the golf club is raised off the ground. On a sand wedge, for example, when the club is set down on the floor you'll see a space where the leading edge is raised off the ground. The gap created between the turf and the leading edge is the bounce angle - the bigger the gap, the larger the bounce.
What does bounce do?
Bounce helps the club continue with forward momentum when you impact the ground. When you hit a golf shot with your wedge, you don't want it to get stuck in the ground. Bounce is the reason this does not happen. It is the reason we can come in steeper to the back of the ball and not find the club stuck in the ground and the ball about 5 yards in front of us.
At the moment of impact, you want your wedge to come down and bounce gently under the ball so that the grass or the turf doesn't snag up or slow your clubhead.
Bounce, a real-life example
Picture yourself on a stony beach, you're about to skim some stones across the top of the water, and the search begins to find the perfect stone.
The Holy Grail - wide and flat with rounded edges so it will bounce, skip, and skim on the water. There's nothing worse than a stone that digs into the water and sinks on the first skip!
If that all rings a bell, then there's nothing you don't already know about the bounce in wedges, the theory is the same.
What are the bounce 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, but 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
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.
Low bounce wedges are typically in the lower loft range – e.g. pitching and gap wedges used for longer approach shots where 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.
Mid Bounce Wedges
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. This is something to be aware off and is the start of the conversation around grind.
High Bounce Wedges
Wedges with high bounce angles (14-degrees plus) are primarily designed for soft ground conditions and sand. The combination of a 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.
Determining the Bounce of a Wedge
As buyers become more informed and manufacturers started producing more than one bounce option for a specific loft they started to stamp the bounce on the wedge, usually somewhere near the loft. For example, a Titleist Vokey 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.
How much or which bounce do you need?
If you think of all the shots you can hit with your wedges; there are loads? Long ones, short ones, flop shots up high in the air, bunker shots, ones that are nipped off tightly mown grass and stop quickly. Add to this all the different course conditions - hard links ground courses, parkland courses, soft and squelchy wet courses in winter, courses with lush grass, courses with tight grass.
Depending on the courses you play and the shots you like to play with your wedges, sometimes having more or less bounce is advantageous.
Yes, for the average club player having wedges with lots of bounce, around 7 to 10-degrees, will work.
If you play a lot in soft wet conditions or tend to dig the club in the ground or chunk the ball with your wedges, you could choose wedges with even more bounce. 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.
But say for instance your regular course is a links course, hard ground, lots of roll, you don't want your wedge to bounce too much off the hard ground, the clubhead could bounce up off the ground causing you to skull your ball!! In that case, you might choose a low bounce wedge, maybe 4 to 6 degrees.
As well as firm ground conditions, low bounce wedges are great for golfers with 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.
Lots of Tour professionals also use low bounce wedges, because they are so skilful they are able to pick the ball cleanly off pretty much any surface and don't really need the help that bounce gives.
Don't forget about grind
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 called 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. Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide on grind if you want to learn more about how it can improve your short game.
Just when we’d got our heads around bounce on wedges, what it does, and how much we need, the manufacturers have thrown another variable into the mix. Grind. Like bounce angles before figuring out which grind is right for you can be extremely tough.