Golf Wedge Buyer’s Guide: What Wedges Do You Need?

different types of wedges laid out

You likely know that wedges are a crucial element in your golf equipment. The right wedges can improve your short game and help you lower your scores. So, at some point, golfers ask: What wedges do I need?

It’s an excellent question to ask if you want to improve your golf game. Getting the best wedges helps your pitching, chipping, and bunker play. You’ll be on your way to lower scores if you can fine-tune this area of your game.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about wedges. You’ll be able to buy wedges confidently when it’s time for an upgrade.

Different Types of Wedges

The different types of wedges are pitching wedges, gap or approach wedges, sand wedges, and lob wedges. Understanding each wedge helps you decide what wedges you need.

Pitching Wedge

A pitching wedge generally has a loft range between 43 and 48 degrees. The loft has gotten stronger over the years, especially if you’re playing game-improvement irons.

Average male golfers hit a pitching wedge between about 95 and 115 yards. You should know the distance you hit your pitching wedge because it helps you with gapping (more on that later).

Gap or Approach Wedge

The gap or approach wedge sits between the pitching and sand wedges. The loft range is between 48 and 52 degrees.

Average male golfers hit an approach or gap wedge between about 90 and 110 yards.

sand wedge

Sand Wedge

Traditionally, a sand wedge had the highest loft of all the wedges. However, lob wedges became more popular and now have the highest lofts.

The loft range of sand wedges is between 52 to 58 degrees. The average male golfer hits a sand wedge between around 80 and 100 yards.

As the name suggests, golfers use sand wedges to hit out of the sand in bunkers. But they’re versatile clubs, and players use them for full shots, flop shots, and chip shots around the greens.

Lob Wedge

The lob wedge is the highest lofted club in the bag. Golfers usually use 60-degree lob wedges, especially amateur players. But many players also opt for 64-degree lob wedges.

Lob wedges have a loft range of 58 to 64 degrees. Only the best golfers successfully use a 64-degree lob wedge because they’re much harder to hit well.

You can launch the ball high with a lob wedge. It’s the best club for flop shots because the ball stops quickly on the green.

Golfers also use the lob wedge to hit full shots, hitting the ball high and landing it softly. The average male player hits it about 70 to 90 yards with a lob wedge.

Golf Wedge Components

Understanding the components of wedges helps you identify what you need in a wedge. Manufacturers make wedges in many variations, so it’s crucial to know what suits your game. The golf wedge components are:

  • Loft
  • Bounce
  • Grind
  • Shaft
  • Grooves
  • Leading Edge
  • Finish

We can take a closer look at each component individually.

Loft

As we’ve seen, each wedge has a different loft range. So, not all pitching wedges have the same loft, and not all sand wedges have the same loft, etc.

Wedges with a higher loft give you less distance. However, you’ll be able to hit the ball higher with more backspin when you have a higher loft. What you need depends on your game.

For instance, higher handicappers are usually better off going with wedges at the lower end of the loft range. That gives them the extra distance they often need while offering decent spin characteristics.

Better players usually put more of a preference on spin than distance. So, their setups can be in the higher loft ranges for each wedge.

Bounce

Wedge bounce is the angle created between the leading edge of the clubhead and the lowest point of the sole (or trailing edge) when the clubhead rests on the ground at address. Golfers measure bounce in degrees, and wedge bounce goes up to 14 degrees.

The bounce stops your wedge from digging into the ground or sand. A high bounce is more forgiving, while a low bounce is less forgiving.

Higher handicappers generally do better with high-bounce wedges. The forgiveness helps these players, especially if they chunk shots.

The versatility of a low-bounce wedge is appealing to better players. They can use it for a range of shots around the greens.

Also, you should consider a high bounce if you play in soft conditions. Those who play in firm conditions are better off with low-bounce wedges.

Wedges also come in a mid-bounce option, which gives players a good middle ground. This option suits a wider range of players and playing conditions.

Grind

Grind refers to the shape of the sole on a wedge. Material is manipulated or removed from the area to create the grind. Manufacturers design it to help improve how wedges interact with the turf.

Some wedges have six grind options, while others might have three. It depends on what company makes the wedges.

Some common grind options are C-Grind, S-Grind, and W-Grind. These are designed for different shot types and vary between manufacturers. So, it’s always best to read what the company says about its wedge grind. It’ll tell you the best use for a particular one.

Shaft

Like all golf clubs, wedges come with different shaft options. However, wedge shafts are slightly distinct from other shafts and have ‘wedge flex’ built into them.

You’ll usually see wedges with steel shafts unless they come in a complete golf club set with graphite ones. Wedges have shorter shafts than others clubs because that gives you more control. You want that in this area to improve your accuracy.

Grooves

The grooves on the clubface of wedges help you maximize spin. Manufacturers cut the grooves in different ways to get the best spin performance.

They keep the ball on the clubface for longer to create the spin. Of course, some wedges are better at generating spin than others.

It’s critical to keep your grooves clean if you want to maximize spin. You get more control over your wedge play when you do.

Leading Edge

The leading edge is the bottom edge of the clubface. Wedges with a higher bounce have a higher leading edge, while ones with a lower bounce have a lower leading edge.

Also note that opening the clubface raises the leading edge, creating more bounce. Players commonly do that for flop shots. Closing the clubface lowers the leading edge, lowering the bounce.

Finish

Wedges come in various finishes, including chrome, black, and raw. The finish you choose comes down to personal preference. However, there are a few things to note regarding the finishes.

  • Chrome – tends to be more durable but can create sun glare.
  • Black – reduces glare but wears away more noticeably.
  • Raw – rusts more over time, which can add friction and create more spin.

What Wedges Should You Carry?

You should carry three wedges at the bare minimum. A pitching wedge, a gap wedge, and a sand wedge should always have a place in your bag.

However, many players choose to carry four wedges. They include a lob wedge in the mix for more options on the course.

Beginners and high handicappers can get away with carrying three wedges. They likely don’t have the skill to wield the lob wedge yet.

Better players should consider carrying four wedges. They need to get more creative around the greens.

How to Ensure You Have Proper Gapping Between Your Wedges

We can’t stress enough the importance of proper gapping between your wedges. It improves your wedge game and helps your accuracy on the course.

Gapping is the difference in loft between each wedge. That gap in the loft gives you uniform yardage between each club, helping your consistency.

You want the same loft gap between each wedge. For instance, a five-degree gap between your pitching and gap wedge, the same between your gap and sand wedge, and the same between your sand and lob wedge.

That gives you much more consistent distances between your wedges. It helps your accuracy and makes things easier for you.

The chart below gives you some of the best gapping options.

Pitch Wedge LoftGap Wedge LoftSand Wedge LoftLob Wedge Loft
44485258
45505460
46525864
48525660

Wedge Gapping and Distances

As we mentioned, the correct gapping gives you uniform distances between each wedge. Check out the chart below for an example of uniform gapping and consistent distances.

ClubLoft in DegreesDistance in Yards
Pitching Wedge46112
Gap Wedge52100
Sand Wedge5888
Lob Wedge6476

How to Choose the Correct Loft for Your Wedges

You can choose the correct loft for your wedges from the loft of your pitching wedge. Let’s say your pitching wedge has 44 degrees of loft.

Now, we can use our knowledge of gapping to find the correct loft for the rest of the wedges. A good setup would look like this:

  • Pitching Wedge – 44 degrees
  • Gap Wedge – 50 degrees
  • Sand Wedge – 56 degrees
  • Lob Wedge – 62 degrees

That example has a gap of six degrees, but it stays uniform between each wedge. Uniformity is the critical part when choosing the loft for your wedges.

Choosing the Correct Bounce for Your Wedges

You should consider your swing type and the turf conditions when choosing the correct bounce for your wedges.

Swing Type

Consider your swing type and the divots you take with your wedges when choosing the correct bounce. You can get a good idea of your swing type and attack angle from your divots when you hit wedges.

  • Low Bounce – choose this if you have a shallow angle of attack and take little or no divot.
  • Mid Bounce – this bounce works well if you have a neutral swing and moderate attack angle and take moderate divots (but these wedges are more versatile for different swing types).
  • High Bounce – choose this if you have a steep angle of attack and take big, deep divots.

Turf Conditions

Consider the turf conditions on the golf courses you most often play when choosing the correct bounce for your wedges. Different conditions suit wedges with a low, mid, or high bounce.

  • Low Bounce – this is best for firm conditions and bunkers with harder coarse sand.
  • Mid Bounce – this option is versatile and works well on firm to normal turf conditions.
  • High Bounce – this bounce is best if your course has soft conditions with soft sand in the bunkers.

FAQs

What loft wedges should A high handicapper carry?

A high handicapper should carry at least three wedges: pitching, gap, and sand wedges. The highest loft of the three could be a 56-degree sand wedge.

A good setup for a high handicapper is a 44-degree pitching wedge, a 50-degree gap wedge, and a 56-degree sand wedge. They could then opt for a 62-degree lob wedge, although it may not be necessary.

What degree sand wedge is best for beginners?

A 56-degree or 58-degree sand wedge is best for beginners. These have enough loft to help beginners escape from bunkers.

Beginners who struggle to get the height to get out of bunkers can opt for the 58-degree sand wedge. The extra loft will make it a little easier for them to lift the ball high enough.

What degree sand wedge do pros use?

Most Pros use a 56-degree sand wedge, with 59% of players on Tour choosing that loft. Some Pros use a lower loft for their sand wedge, while others choose a higher loft.

What is a gap wedge?

A gap wedge (or an approach wedge) fills the gap between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. This wedge has more loft than a pitching wedge but less loft than a sand wedge.

Golf manufacturers started to lower the loft of pitching wedges so that players could get more distance. However, they didn’t change the loft of sand wedges, which created a wide gap in the loft between these wedges.

Some pitching wedges can be 43 degrees, while sand wedges generally stay around 54 degrees. That difference in the loft is too much, so the gap wedge fits between the two clubs and fills the gap.

Conclusion

It’s always exciting buying new wedges. But sometimes it can get a little stressful because there are so many options out there.

The different lofts, bounces, and grinds can make your head spin. And then there’s deciding what wedges you need in your bag.

Reference this guide when you’re buying wedges. It’ll take the confusion out of the process and help you narrow down your options.

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Shane Curry

Shane Curry is a professional writer and an avid golfer who’s been involved in the sport for over three decades. He is a student of the game and keeps up to date with all the latest developments.