TEN things you should know about WEDGES

Golfmagic guide to the scoring clubs in your bag, what they are, what they do and why we need them.


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Ten things you should know about wedges

Golfers are hitting the ball so far these days that many par-4 holes are being reduced to a ‘drive and a flick’ increasing the importance of the high lofted clubs in our bags.

Some pros – and an increasing number of club golfers – are, consequently carrying as many as four wedges in their bags each, they claim, with differing lofts and a different job to do.

The Rules of Golf allow for 14 clubs to be carried in competitive rounds and with a rescue and utility clubs replacing as many as three long irons or a fairway metal, this allows for more ‘scoring’ clubs to be included for shots played upto 100 yards from the flagstick.

Array of 10 models of Nike wedge

1. Lofts

A club which comes within the modern wedge category can have as little as 45 degrees of loft and as much as 64 degrees.

Many leading manufacturers produce upto 10 wedge models rising in 2-degree increments – and with different degrees of bounce (we’ll come on to that) to compliment the loft.

For example TaylorMade is shortly to introduce its rac Black TP wedge series in five different loft and bounce configurations from 52 degrees to 60. The design of the head makes it more versatile, say the makers, to reduce the need to provide more loft options.

Grooves and bounce on Ping wedges

2. Bounce

This term refers to the bulbous flange built into the sole of the club. If your local course tends to be wet parkland, wedges with more bounce (8-11 degrees) will be less likely to dig into the ground.

Clubs with less bounce (6-8 degrees) will suit drier, fast-running heathland and links courses. So take into account the type of turf and sand you play on most regularly.

Also more bounce is built into sand wedge to allow them to glide through the sand as opposed to dig into it.

Nick Doherty is good with his pitch wedge

3. What's a pitching wedge?...

The pitching wedge (PW) is the straighter faced of the wedges (45-48 degrees of loft) and normally comes with a set of irons you purchase.

It’s a great all-rounder club for hitting ‘full out’ from upto 120 yards, pitching and punching low to grip and stop or for some delicate chips or chip-and-runs around the green. Minimal bounce is built into it to make it more versatile. An average 40 year-old club golfer would hit it 105 yards (compared to a Tour pro’s 135 yards)

Black Ox gap wedge

4. ...Gap wedge?

A five-degree difference in degrees between the sand wedge and the pitching wedge in the 1960s has grown to a ten-degree difference. This has created room for club manufacturers to respond by inventing a new club to fill the gap and, of course, encourage us to buy more products, despite probably having an unusable 3- or 4-iron in the bag or gathering dust.

Also known as an Approach, Attack or Dual wedge, the gap wedge (GW) has between 50 –54 degrees of loft for those ‘in between’ shots from around 70-90 yards that prove too far for the sand wedge to handle, yet demand more loft and finesse than a pitching wedge. Not much bounce on this club which allows you to nip it off the turf and gain maximum spin.

Average distance for the club player is 85 yards, but the pro rarely carries one.

Most pros carry three wedges

5. ...Sand iron/wedge

Heaviest club in your bag, the sand wedge (SW) usually has maximum bounce (10-12 degrees) built into the sole and 54-56 degrees of loft on the face.

Ideal for escaping from sand around the green, allowing you to drive the sole of the club into the sand just behind the ball and lifting it out on a cushion of sand.

Because of its wide, rounded and curved head, it’s good for deft little chips from the fringe (hood the face, hands slightly forward) and for playing those belly-wedge putts from the collar of greenside rough (striking the ball on its equator with the leading edge).

Typical distance for the club player from the fairway is 70 yards, while the pro can propel a ball 115-120 yards.

Phil Rodgers wedge from Cobra

6. Lob wedge/lobber

Again, the lob wedge (LW) has a big face with maximum loft between 60-64 degrees. Not so much bounce built into these which allows you to create even more loft by laying the face open.

With its sharp leading edge, a great club for slicing under the ball to get it up quickly (with an out to in swing path) over a hazard on to the green. Pros tend to use them from firm fairways to nip the ball off the turf and stop quickly. Needs a lot of practice.

A lob wedge is built more for height than distance, more finesse than power so 30 yards is probably its optimum distance for the amateur. A pro, however, will not only use it over hazard but from the fairway for those 75-95 yard shots that need to land softly.

Y-cutter grooves to minimise ball damage

7. Grooves

Most wedge have around 15-16 grooves etched into them, slightly rounded at the surface to avoid damaging high performance ball but allowing water and debris to escape at impact.

The latest trend is to introduce Y-cutter grooves on TaylorMade wedges to minimise ball damage yet still provide an efficient means of allow debris to escape.

Tiger has a great short game

8. Materials

The days of every wedge being coated with chrome over steel are over. Finishes also include, raw (unchromed), beryllium copper, nickel-coated and oil-quenched.

A thin layer of black oxide, can also be applied, which gives a rusty appearance and wears down when it gets wet. However, it can tend to deliver more spin, feel and control.

The softer the face of your wedge the more spin and feel you will get. Unfortunately this tends to wear down the grooves more quickly.

Most pros use steel shafts

9. Shafts

Wedges tend to be favoured by steel shafts – check out most pros’ lofted clubs and they are like stiff steel pokers. Steel shafts are reckoned to consistently deliver more spin, feel and control.

Graphite shafts, however, are perfectly adequate if your set comes complete with pitching wedge and sand iron.

Darren Clarke has great spin control

10. What should you pay?

You can buy a new wedge for as little as a tenner or as much as £160 though most can be purchased for under £100 even from the leading brands.

You might also consider checking your local pro’s second hand stock. Top name wedges that have had an oxide coating and developed a rusty appearance could provide just the tool you are looking for at a bargain price.

Want more short game tips? Check out our guide to chipping like Phil Mickleson and pitching with Jeff Maggert

Have a read of...

2013 irons buyer's guide

Ten of the Best: Wedges

TaylorMade ATV review

Mizuno MP-T4 review

Cobra Trusty Rusty review

Originally published October 2012, updated May 2013.

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We want to know about your wedges. How many do you carry? What are their jobs? What instant tips can you pass on about how to make the best of them?

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 10:39

I carry a 52* gap and SW - so three, if you count the Pitching Wedge.
The PW is great for drop and stop shots from 80 - 100 yards, short pitch and runs and chipping from the fringe.
Gap useful for anything inside 80 yards and for longer sand shots, or wet sand also for short chips where a bit of check required.
Traditional Sand iron for splash shots out of bunkers and the occassional flop shot out of a fluffy greenside lie.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 10:52

i carry

45 degree PW - 130-135 yards
52 degree Gap - 95-100 yards
55 degree SW - 75-80 yards
60 degree LW - 30-40 yards

those are the full swing carries incidentally.
i also use the GW for little chips where i need some run but use the LW for ones i need to land soft, but only from decnt lies. If the ball is lying badly and i still need to to stop it i will tend to use the sand wedge.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:00

Pitching wedge, sand wedge and lobber. The lobber I use only for those shots where I need to get over a hazard and stop quickly - under 30 yards - otherwise I find that i thin it too easily.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:01

I carry a 52* gap, 55* SW and 58* SW

I count the PW as a club I normally hit full shots with but I have come to the conclusion that 100yrds in is where scores are made so the more flexability I have the better

Gap used for 100-110 and pitch and run shots
55* used for 85-95, pitch shots off of tight lies that need to bite a bit, longer bunker shots
58* used for 80 yrds in, flop shots from the rough and splash shots from bunkers

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:01

Oh jeez...my bag is full of the damned things...I've got three Vokeys 50,56 and 60 dgrees (as well as the PW in my set of MP32's) and two SMT Durometers 53 and 59 degrees for comparison.

I've just put in an order for Durometers of 51, 55 and 59 degrees and will be selling the Vokeys on a popular auction site as soon as the Durometers arrive!!!

Typically the gap (50/51) will be used for approach shots of around 90-100 yds, the sand wedge (55/56) from 50-80 yds (oh yeah...and bunkers) and the lob (59/60) from 40 yds in. I have found the durometers to be particularly adept from the sand...they seem to slide through the sand with little resistance.

I was carrying the 53 degree SMT for demo purposes and have used it extensively for chipping around the green at which it has been fantastic...unfortunately the gap between my PW and the 53* SMT is too big for me and needs to be filled...hence the order for the 51 and 55.

Stickman...unless you really need them back tomorrow you can have the SMT wedges back on Sunday afternoon (depending upon my alcohol intake after my singles final!!) or Monday if Sunday isnt convenient (or achievable!!).

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:20

I carry the following:

46* PW (Callaway X18 PS)
52* GW (Vokey)
56* SW (Vokey)
60* LW (Vokey)

I'm not a great proponent of 4 wedges but I've come to believe that the modern pitching wedge is what used to be a 9 iron. This way it makes more sense to carry three specialist wedges below the PW.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:34


used when appropriate, often determined by the lie.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 11:40

Same as longshot. I believe the PW now is lofted like a 9 iron from when I started playing, so I carry the stock PW with 3 other wedges. I basically use the PW for full shots and pitch and runs. So:

46* PW Mizuno MX-23 (120 yards)
51*/6 GW Cleveland 588 (100 yards)
56*/14 SW Cleveland 588 (80 yards)
60*/3 LW Cleveland 588 (60 yards)

The 4 wedges are absolutely vital to the way I play. The club from 100 yards and in can vary from lie, amount of green to work with, etc. etc. so you need to give yourself as many options as possible.

I really don't feel I've lost out elsewhere in my bag, as I have 4-PW irons, driver, 3 wood and rescue, so all bases are covered.

Sorry for the waffle, but I'm a firm believer in having 4 wedges basically.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 12:25

I've got my PW and two Vokeys (52* and 58*). I do have a 64* too but tend not to take it with me.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 12:31

Ping Eye 2 SW
Ping Eye 2 PW
Vokey 60* LW

Vokey is a recent addition and has improved my scores. Great to be able to give it a good hard swing knowing it will stop quickly. Imroved my accuracy no end.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 12:38

oh no....... dont get oldslugger started on his wedges..... I swear he will bring them to bed one of these nights

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 12:42

I'm with JB (52 & 58 Vokeys) but I recently tried a 60 deg. mizuno wedge and it was real nice.
Being a late starter I've come into golf using lob wedges and love them, the only trouble is my own course has lots of bare lies and makes lob shots tricky to nigh on impsosible. Probably explains why I tend to play better away from home.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 13:30

"impossible" - must stop using my lob wedge to type with.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 13:31

I carry;

45* Pitching Wedge
48* Gap Wedge
54* Sand Wedge
60* Lob Wedge.

I don't use my Sand Wedge alot as I like to choke down on my 48* and hit 1/2 shots.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 15:37

I've got a PW (not sure of the loft, it's part of an crap iron set lol)
60* Lob Wedge
56* Sand Wedge
Both wedges are Snake Eyes 650W PM Forged.
I use the lob out of the sand and around the green, and from 30/40 yards out.
The sand wedge is used for 80 yard approaches, long bunker shots and bump-and-runs.

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 16:01

PW Srixon as part of set

Ram 64 Fluffy lies from edge of green
Titleist Vokey 60 Sand and tighter lies from 40 yards in
Mizuno Mpt 56 Sand and fluffly lies around green
Mizuno Mpt 51 Anywher from 80 yards in

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 16:43

...can anyone beat 5 wedges!

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 16:44

vokey oil can

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 17:10

JB - When you drive like I do let me tell you - five wedges is still not enough!

Posted: 14/10/2005 at 17:31

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