If you want to play golf, or you have just started playing, then you are probably a bit confused on the subject of golf clubs. What do you know about golf clubs? They are expensive? Do you need a full set?
We are here to clear the confusion. And we are going to focus on a subset of your golf clubs. Here is our beginners’ guide to golf wedges.
We hope that after all, you golfing fans have read this article, you will understand what a golf wedge is. You will know which golf wedge you need. Most importantly, you will know which one to use when you are on the course.
What is a golf wedge?
The golf wedge is a club to get you out of trouble. If you are stuck in the rough or need to get over a hazard, this is the tool you will need.
What distinguishes a golf wedge from other clubs? It is the loft. That is the angle of the club head from the ground. All wedges have high lofts. This enables you to get the ball into the air and over a hazard.
Golf wedges are designed to help you get under the ball. They have a heavy club head and a distinctive shape. The most noticeable feature is a moulded sole, the sole is the bottom of the clubhead, next to the ground.
The moulding is designed to help you get your ball out of soft sand or long grass and on to the green. Good wedge play is essential to developing your short game on and around the green. When you have whacked the ball from the tee down the fairway, and you now need to get onto the green, you will need a golf wedge.
What do we mean by the loft on a golf wedge?
The loft is the angle of the face of the club relative to the shaft of the club. The wedges have the highest lofts of the whole set of the clubs. This gives you more control when you hit the ball.
How do wedges differ from each other?
Wedges usually increase in increments of four degrees, and each has a variation of a few degrees. More of this later.
Two of the wedges have been around in the golfing world for a very long time. These are the pitching wedge and the sand wedge.
The pitching wedge has been with us for nearly a century. It was joined by the sand wedge in the 1930s, when golf legend Gene Sarazan, put more loft on his pitching wedge. Sarazan did this to give himself some extra help and make it easier to get out of the sand. Hence the name.
For decades this was the limit of your choice: pitching wedge and sand wedge. Then things moved on towards the end of the twentieth century. The famous guru of the short game, Dave Pelz made the next breakthrough. He developed another wedge, the club which is now known as the lob wedge, to give more control yet.
Understanding the different types of golf wedges.
There are four basic types of golf wedge;
- Sand wedge
- Pitching wedge
- Lob wedge
- Gap wedge
Each has a slightly different job to do. The lofts vary. The higher the loft, the more you can lift the ball. You do pay for this though. The ball will not travel as far. That is just the laws of physics. Here is a table to make it more transparent.
|Club||Degree of loft||Average distance (male golfer high mid and low handicap)||Average distance (lady golfer high mid and low handicap)|
|Pitching wedge||47-53 degrees||80-105-120 yards||50-60-80 yards|
|Gap wedge||50-54 degrees||70-95-110 yards||45-55-70 yards|
|Sand wedge||54-58 degrees||60-80-100 yards||40-50-60 yards|
|Lob wedge||58-62 degrees||50-70-90 yards||35-45-50 yards|
The pitching wedge
This is for the shots you are going to get onto the green as you play a round of golf.
The pitching wedge is for your longest wedge shots when you are still a long way from the green. It is also used for pitch and chip shots. You will be making these when you are near the green and want to roll the ball to the pin.
Pitching wedges have the lowest loft of all the wedge clubs. This means they are the easiest for the beginners to use. Their low loft means they are more forgiving than the higher lofted wedges. If you slightly mishit the ball, you will still have a shot which is relatively near the target.
Even if you are just starting out on the game, it is well worth having a pitching wedge in your golf bag. As we have said, the pitching wedge is more forgiving than the higher lofted clubs. Forgiveness in a golf club is the degree to which you can mis-hit the ball and still keep your shot roughly on target.
With a good pitching wedge, if you miss the sweet spot on the golf club face the ball may still go where you want it to go. On top of that, a pitching wedge is very flexible. You will use it a lot to make a variety of shots.
The gap wedge
The next highest loft for your wedge clubs is the gap wedge. This club is a much newer addition to the golf club set, but it is handy.
The secret is in the name. It fits between the much older and well-established wedge clubs: the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. You will use it for chipping the ball where you need to get more height than with the pitching wedge. You will also use it for pitching when you are near the green.
Think of the ball rising into the air in a lovely arc and then coming down gently to land. That is a perfect shot with a gap wedge.
The sand wedge
If you want more loft than with the gap wedge, then the sand wedge will be your choice of club. The sand wedge’s purpose is in the name. It is there to get you out of trouble. If you are stuck in a sand bunker, this is the time to reach for your sand wedge.
The high loft on this club means it is excellent for getting under soft surfaces and lifting the ball into the air. It has a rounded base, which makes it very distinctive in your golf set. This rounded base has a purpose. It is to make it easier for you to get under the ball as is sits in soft ground. If you can make this shot, then you can get out of trouble and onto the green. You will grow to rely on your sand wedge as you develop your game and learn to deal with hazards.
The lob wedge
There are some specialist wedges with even more loft, but for beginners, this is the tops. It has the highest loft of all in the average set of clubs. This loft will give you a lot of control. But it will not give you a long distance. You will come to recognize that this can be an advantage. You do not always want the ball to travel.
The lob wedge is very useful when you need to move the ball out of a hazard. But then stop it quickly on the green. Think of it this way. There is no point in playing brilliantly and getting out of a hazard only to see your ball roll past the pin and yards away. That’s going to mean an extra shot to get it into the hole. You are not going to become a low handicap player like that.
Learn to use your lob wedge well, and this will not happen. Instead, your ball will clear the obstacle in a lovely arc and then land and roll to a gentle stop, right near the hole. Perfect.
Bounce: the other characteristic of wedge clubs
In addition to the loft, the other crucial feature of all the wedge clubs is the bounce. In golfing terminology, the bounce on a golf club is about the angle. Specifically, the angle between the bottom of the club face (this is called the sole) and the ground.
Wedge clubs have a lot of bounce. This stops you digging the club into the ground when you take your shot. Of course, it takes skill to do this, as well as the right club.
We would advise assessing whether you need to change the bounce of your wedge clubs as your game develops. The bounce you need is about the characteristic of your game and your personal preferences.
How many wedges do I need?
Golf clubs are getting more sophisticated all the time. New wedges, with very high lofts, are being introduced and some players find them very useful. But if you are starting out, we would advise keeping things simple. The four wedges we have been talking about should be enough for you. Remember, you can carry only fourteen clubs when you are playing out on the course, so you need to choose carefully.
If you want to play well, it is crucial to make sure that you have the correct differences between the degrees of the loft of each club. As a rough guide, expect to add four to five degrees for each wedge as you work up from pitching wedge, through gap wedge, to sand wedge to lob wedge.
The most popular loft for the pitching wedge is forty-five degrees. Start with that and then count up four to five degrees. The next wedge, the gap wedge, will be about forty-nine or fifty degrees of loft. Count up again. Your sand wedge will have approximately fifty-four to fifty-six degrees of loft. Finally count up yet to get to your highest wedge, the lob wedge. That will have fifty-eight and sixty degrees of loft.
As your game develops, you may find you want to adjust your clubs a little. We would suggest you do not do this until you have some experience. You need to know your own game to be able to decide if you need to adjust your shots or adjust your clubs. If you still have doubts about your clubs, then it is worth booking a session with a professional coach to ask advice.
Beginners guide to golf wedges conclusion
We hope this article has cleared up your questions about wedge clubs. They are an essential part of your golf set. Using your wedge clubs well will improve your short game and get your handicap
To finish, we thought you would like some instruction on how to get your wedge shots right.
And here are those who do it correctly. Over to the professionals. This will show you that there is no situation from which you cannot escape. If you are good enough, that is.