Golf Wedges Explained
The wedges are a subset of the iron family of golf clubs designed for special use situations. They are used for the short game. The wedge clubs when properly struck will produce a very high, arching shot. Because wedge shots have such a high trajectory, they tend to roll very little once they hit the green. More accomplished players can produce a great deal of backspin with a wedge. It involves a sweeping technique. This technique causes the ball to back up (or “bite”) once it hits the green. The short game in golf is all about finesse and feel. Hence, it is important that the wedge you are using is comfortable and easy to hit to a target on the green.
Pitching wedges have less loft than any of the other wedges. These wedges tend to have 44 degrees to 50 degrees of loft. One can get the club underneath the ball fairly easy with a pitching wedge. The purpose of a pitching wedge is for an approach shot from the fairway or rough.
Gap Wedge (a.k.a. Approach Wedge)
Gap wedges have more loft than a pitching wedge and less loft than lob and sand wedges. These wedges tend to have between 46 degrees and 54 degrees of loft. They are useful when the shot is too short for a pitching wedge, but too long for a sand wedge. Check the loft of a gap wedge – as it should be higher than the pitching wedge and lower than the sand wedge. Approach wedge is simply another name for a gap wedge that some manufacturers prefer to use.
Sand wedges have more loft than a gap wedge and less than a lob wedge. These wedges tend to have between 54 degrees and 58 degrees of loft. Good for hitting out of sand traps and bunkers, they can be used anywhere, but typically for an approach shot or short chip onto the green.
Lob wedges have more loft than any of the other wedges. These wedges tend to have between 60 degrees and 65 degrees of loft. Their main purpose is for very short approach shots and chips around the green as they get the ball into the air quickly. They can be effective anytime a high and short shot is necessary.
The task of finding a couple of playable wedges to have in your golf bag is a process. There are plenty of inherent variables, and these must be narrowed down before making a decision. These variables include: normal turf conditions of the courses you play, swing angle of your attack, and intended situational use of the club.
Each type of wedge is designed differently and used to play different shots. Although a pitching wedge has “wedge” in its name, it is usually grouped with the other irons. This is because a typical, off-the-shelf set of irons for sale will include a 3-iron through a pitching wedge. The gap wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge are most often sold separately.
Some wedges are lighter or heavier, so it is important to know what can work best for you. Wedge designs do differ from various manufacturers and many small independent companies produce clubs of this type because they are not typically included in sets. They also have various degrees of loft and flex, which can affect how you hit the ball.
Functionally, these wedges deviate in their amount of bounce. Bounce is an important factor when it comes down to both wedges and irons. When being fitted for wedges the following club design factors are measured and all taken into consideration: bounce, sole camber, sole radius, sole width, and sole grind that your wedge needs.
THE BOUNCE FACTOR
All irons, including wedges, feature a design property known as “effective bounce”. This bounce property is a concept that even golfers who have been playing for awhile may not fully understand, or perhaps misunderstand. It could be beneficial in your game performance to gain just a basic understanding of bounce and how it works. While head design and weighting does play a role in the playability of all irons and wedges, the biggest key is determined by sole design and calculating the “effective bounce” of the sole. Due to the nature of wedges, the bounce property is much more prevalent with these clubs.
While there are four main factors in the design of any wedge sole – manufacturers have a limitless number of variations and combinations to these four factors. The four factors are as follows:
1. Bounce Angle of the Sole
2. Width of the Sole
3. Radius on the Sole from Face to Back
4. Leading Edge Grind
Effective Bounce works in the following manner. The higher the leading edge – the greater the effective bounce. The farther back that the sole touches the ground – the greater the effective bounce. Taking measurements and calculating the effective bounce can provide analysis of wedge performance. One major principle is that the greater the effective bounce – the less likely the leading edge of the club face will dig into the ground or the sand. Thus, by knowing the effective bounce of a wedge, you can determine the best approach to striking the ball to eliminate both “fat” and “thin” shots, plus have better control over distance and trajectory.
In general, more bounce can be used for bunker shots and to to perform flop shots. On courses with soft conditions, more bounce can enable the club to bounce off the surface instead of dig, which promotes better ball contact. On the other hand, less bounce usually allows for more spin and better ball contact off hard surfaces. It is easier to hit out of higher rough and keep out of the wind with less bounce.
Higher playability wedges simplify wedge play in your short game by mostly controlling turf and sand penetration. Hence, ultimately increasing golfer confidence due to more consistent successful chips, pitches, sand and full wedge shots. Keep in mind that wedges are often called “scoring clubs” as they set-up the putt. Proper fitting of these short game clubs also includes a check and measurement of club length and swing weight. Changing shafts can also improve feel and control and would be an assessment after swing observation.