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. It’s not that complicated right? The higher the number on the club the higher the loft (or the shorter the ball goes). 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 type of wedge is 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 within about 130 yards of the hole (depending on how far you can hit them) that 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. can change depending on the club producer, wedges come in four main classes, each with 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 used for longer shots where height and spin aren’t necessary, such as a 50 yard pitch from the fairway. 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.
Next in line after the pitching wedge is one of the less commonly known wedges; the gap wedge. At least for me, the most important things I get from a gap wedge is the ability to take a full swing at around 100 yards from the hole which is one of the most common and important scoring ranges for golfers. It’s so important 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, the ability to take a full swing and the amount of spin you 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 wide sole 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 some thick grass by the green and the loft is nice for sticking the ball close to the hole without having to worry about it rolling off the green.
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. While I very rarely take a full swing with this club (I’d rather pitch the ball if I’m 50 yards out), 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 of some sand traps. It might not be the most popular club in my bag, but 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.
As you can tell there’s a lot to learn about wedges and a lot of 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 do you like to use your different wedges and why? Ultimately it really doesn’t matter. Anyone can be great with their wedges, it just comes down to your own personal preference and practice.
So, hopefully now you have a little better idea of just how the wedge hierarchy works, or at least you got know see how I like to use mine. Either way, once you start to really dial in your wedges you’ll be one step closer to playing top tier golf (not to mention you’ll be great at one of the hardest parts of the game). 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.