A wedge is a part of the golf club with special uses in various situations. Its differing designs makes it come in different shapes and sizes. Wedges can be termed as irons though, some golfers and golf enthusiast regard it as a subset of irons in golf clubs.
From high-handicaps to professionals, wedges are an important part of a golfers play and research have shown that wedges have been responsible for about a quarter of all shots during a game play.
Usually, when a golfer buys a set of golf clubs, at least one wedge is inclusive. Most times a pitching wedge comes with the set. However, one could get other types of wedges. Due to their special uses and configuration, wedges are divided into four types namely, Pitching Wedge, Gap Wedge, Sand Wedge and Lob Wedge. As a result, wedges have different weight, degrees of loft and shaft length.
What are the types of Golf Wedges?
As a class, wedges are grouped into 4 types;
- Pitching Wedge (PW)
- Gap Wedge (GW)
- Sand Wedge (SW)
- Lob Wedge (LW)
Pitching Wedge (PW)
The Pitching Wedge is the most common wedge type and is usually included in standard club set. Of all the wedge types, it has the lowest degree of loft. Usually, the loft of the wedge type is between 44 and 48 degrees.
In relation to low trajectory, the pitching wedge hits the ball the farthest when a chip shot swing is made accurately and is able to send the ball up in the air as far as 100 to 150 yards.
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- Suitable for covering the green
- Send balls the farthest
- Has multiple use cases
- Suited for full shots
- Not perfect for chip shots
Gap Wedge (GW)
The Gap Wedge, also known as A-wedge, Approach wedge, Attack wedge or Utility wedge comes after the pitching wedge with a loft much higher than the former. Although it could pass as a perfect substitute for the pitching wedge, it is best used for making shots that might be too short for a pitching wedge but too long for a sand wedge.
The average loft of the gap wedge is usually between about 48 and 54 degrees. In other words, its loft falls in-between the pitching wedge and sand wedge.
A player would normally use a gap wedge fuller shots and to cover distances between 90 to 110 yards during play.
Since gap wedges don’t come in a standard club set, when choosing a gap wedge you need to pick one that its loft falls between that of your pitching wedge and sand wedge.
- Can be used as substitutes for sand wedge
- Best suited for fuller shots with more precision
- Doesn’t perform well in sand traps or bunkers
Sand Wedge (SW)
Sand Wedges are more suitable for use around sand traps and the greens. Before the advent of lob wedges, sand wedges have been used for making chip shots and strategic bunker shots because it was the highest lofted wedge available at that time. Golfers sometimes use it in the stead of lob wedges if none is available.
In terms of loft, sand wedges are usually within the range of 54 to 58 degrees and are designed with a weightier and wider sole.
When a player swings the ball using a sand wedge it is able to cover a distance of roughly 80 to 100 yards.
- Helps to put spin on the ball
- Best suited for sand traps or bunkers
- Not suitable for fuller shots
Lob Wedges (LW)
Lob Wedges have the highest loft of all the wedges type and falls between 60 and 65 degrees. It is most suitable for areas around the green and sand bunkers that call for precise shots.
Also, it is used to produce more height and ultimately, spin. It is also safe to say Lob Wedges produce the most spin. For example, a player could use a lob wedge to get the ball over an obstacle on its direct line of sight.
Golfers use it to make chip shots, flop shots and bunker shots in situations where they need it to send the ball high up in the air within a distance of about 70 yards.
- Suited for chips and flop shots
- It produces more height and spin
- More useful for taking precise shots around the green
- Not suited for fuller shots
What is Loft?
Wedge Loft is the angle created between the face of the wedge and an imaginary vertical line.
A rule of thumb simply puts that, the higher loft on a wedge, the higher the elevation of your shot. Thereby, resulting in a higher ball flight with less roll, more control and shorter distance.
What Loft Angle Should I Pick for a Golf Wedge?
Below are the usual loft angles for the four wedge types that you can pick from:
- Pitching Wedge: 44 to 50 degrees
- Gap Wedge: 48 to 55 degrees
- Sand Wedge: 54 to 58 degrees
- Lob Wedge: 58 to 65 degrees
You can read more about loft angles here
What is Bounce?
The Bounce of a wedge is generally referred to as the area of the club that hits the turf when swung, thereby, it bounces the club through the surface on impact under the ball. Alternatively, Bounce is the class name for the physical properties of a wedge sole design: rocker, leading edge, sole width, camber of a wedge and the bounce angle.
The concept of bounce can be a whole lot to take in at first so if you are a beginner there is no need to worry much about understanding it. Studies have shown that some golfers who have been at the game for decades may not fully understand the concept behind bounce.
Should I Choose a Low, Mid or High Wedge Bounce?
High-bounced wedges have a high space between the ground and the leading edge. The biggest bounce is 18 degrees, and these wedges are best used on soft turfs and sand.
Low-bounce wedges are the best for shots from tight lies and firm turf.
The standard-bounce wedges are great for all users. They’re versatile and are excellent for when you want an open or a square face out of a bunker.
When Do I Need to Use a Specific Golf Wedge?
Well, there isn’t any hard and fast rule that says a wedge type has specific uses. The wedge being used during play is dependent on the individual, the terrain and the distance to be covered.
The pitching wedge is used make powerful shots and covers long distance yardages of roughly above 100 yards.
A sand wedge is more preferable when a player is trying to swing within sand bunkers and greens with the aim to cover an average of 70 yards.
The average yardage for a gap wedge would range between that of the pitching wedge and sand wedge.
Also, a player aiming to cover an average of 60 yards would most likely use a lob wedge to hit the ball over an obstacle.
In summary, any wedge can also be used to make swings around the greens. Whichever wedge you use at any point in time is entirely up to you.
How Many Golf Wedges Should I Carry?
Usually, professional golfer carry a minimum of three wedges in their club set during play. This method is adopted so that they can have a variation to choose from on the course.
When selecting the wedges for play, make sure not to give large gaps between the lowest lofted and the highest lofted wedge in your set. You can try to keep the loft gaps between each around four degrees so you can have more control and versatility.
How Many Golf Clubs Should I Carry?
According to the R&A and USGA rules of golf (4.1b), during play on the golf course, you are only allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in your golf bag. The combination of clubs you will need for each round is entirely up to you.
What to Look Out for When Buying a Golf Wedge
If you are wondering how to choose a golf wedge, here are some factors to consider before buying any:
As a beginner or even an experienced golfer, it is usually safer to use a wedge that is easy to control and has a high forgiveness level. Wedges with high forgiveness level would generally help you cover up some errors in your swing to a reasonable extent. The ease of use of the wedges is also dependent on the overall design and material finish.
For beginners and high-handicappers, the Pitching Wedge is the easiest to use and mastery is on a cheap learning curve.
Versatility is another important factor to consider when choosing a wedge. A wedge that can averagely fit into most situations during play is like having a gun in a sword’s fight. Such multi-purpose wedge will help make your game more interesting and save time. The Sand wedge is one of such versatile wedge.
The finish is basically about the look and feel of the wedge and has little or no effect on your play on the course. This factor is subjective an in most cases, it is all about how aesthetically pleasing it appears. If you are keen on appearance, here is what you need to know about the three different kind of wedge finishes:
- Raw: Raw finishes happen to rust over time because they are basic.
- Chrome: The chrome finish is generally designed with thick hard coating which give it a shiny look. They are invariably more durable than other finish types.
- Matte/Satin: This finish is bit duller than chrome in terms of design.
It important to know that some manufacturers produce both cheap and durable versions of finish types. If you want quality, then you would ultimately spend more. Also, do well to get a wedge with a finish that provides you with comfort and confidence.
For starters, you don’t have to break out of your budget to buy the expensive wedges in the market. As with custom, a club set usually comes with a pitching wedge and maybe a gap wedge. The basic wedges will set you ready for play right away.
As time goes and you get better at your craft you can opt to buy the more sophisticated and expensive types out there.
The best performing gear is one with the best technology powering it in terms of design, aerodynamics, physics and material finish. If you want to be at the top of your game always, get a wedge aided with the best technology.
Wrapping it all up, the various golf wedge types and design is a discourse every golf enthusiast needs to know about. As you graduate from the level of a beginner to a professional, their diverse application is something you would get better at as time goes.