If you’ve been around the game of golf for a little while eventually you start to understand how your clubs work and how to go about choosing the right club for certain shots. After all, it can’t be that complicated, right? You simply follow number on the club with lower numbers going farther and visa versa. This is standard in golf, whether you’re using woods or irons except when it comes to wedges. Unfortunately, for a novice golfer or even an advanced one, it’s not always obvious what each different type of wedge is used for, and that can be frustrating. Luckily though, we’re here to shed some light on that today.
What is a Wedge?
Wedges are high lofted clubs for use around the green and fairway which specialize in hitting the ball high and giving the golfer the ability to spin the ball once it lands. Although the specific loft, bounce, etc. of each individual club can change depending on the club producer, wedges come in four main classes and each one has their own strengths and weaknesses.
The pitching wedge is the first club on our list and it also happens to be the one with the lowest amount of loft (46-48 degrees). Usually, this wedge is used for longer shots where height and spin aren’t necessary, such as a 50 yard pitch from the fairway or a shot from the rough 130 yards out. The pitching wedge is also a great club for bump and run chipping because the low amount of loft allows the ball to fly lower and roll further once it lands on the green.
Gap Wedge /A-Wedge:
Next in line after the pitching wedge is one of the least commonly known wedges; the gap wedge. Personally, the most important thing I get from a gap wedge as a golfer is the ability to take a full swing at around 100 yards from the hole which is arguably one of the most common and important scoring ranges any golfer. Being able to confidently score from this distance is so important to me that I (and many other golfers) choose to bring along a wedge (at usually 51-53 degrees of loft) almost exclusively to fill in the range between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. While this wedge can absolutely be used around the green in a similar fashion as a pitching wedge, the ability to take a full swing and the amount of spin that I can put on the ball makes this my go-to-club when I’m 100 yards out.
Our next wedge is the sand wedge; a very versatile club for use around the green. As the name suggests, the primary use of the sand wedge is to help golfers escape the sand but it’s heavier weight and large bounce are useful for a variety of different shots. Personally, I like to use the sand wedge when I take most of my chips, especially those around the green. The heavy bottom of the club is great for getting through thick rough around the green and the loft is nice for sticking the ball close to the hole without having to worry about a shot rolling too far from where it lands.
The last club we have on our list is the highest lofted club in most golfers bags; the lob wedge. While I must admit, this is probably my least used club, there are certainly moments where carrying a lob wedge pays off. For example, while I very rarely take a full swing with this club, when it comes to those tricky edge-of-the-rough chips that we’ve all smacked across the green, the lob wedge simply does the job best.
Aside from the utility it provides around the green, a lob wedge is also great for getting up and over obstacles like small pine trees or even high lips found in certain sand traps. So, while the lob wedge might not be the most popular club in my bag, it has saved me from some of the worst hazards on the golf course and that is enough to convince me to carry it in my bag with me.
As you can tell there’s a lot to learn about wedges and there are numerous different ways you can use each one depending on how you like to play. As you can see on this inforgraphic from Jim at The Grateful Golfer, some golfers might elect to use a lob wedge when they’re looking to attack the pin while I might use a sand wedge from the same spot instead. How you choose to use your wedges is entirely up to you because, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. Anyone can be great with their wedges, it just comes down to your own personal preference and practice.
Hopefully, you now have a little better idea of just how the wedge hierarchy works, or maybe you learned a new trick or two that you’d like to try out during your next round. Either way, once you really start to dial in your wedges you’ll be one step closer to playing top-tier golf. So until next time golfers, think about how you use your wedges during the first couple rounds of this new golf season, and enjoy the warm weather.