Wedges are the scoring clubs. 70% of shots in golf are from 120 yards and in. Therefore wedges are vital to everyone’s game.
They can create birdies from fairways or save pars around the greens, but can also cause huge problems for golfers who struggle inside 120 yards. It is essential that the wedges you carry in your bag add to your game and assist scoring.
Wedges appear basic clubs that are not as advanced in terms of technology, as a Driver or Iron, but this is untrue. Different types of wedges along with varying specifications mean you can really research and discover a wedge that is exactly suited to your game.
The following sections will assist you in learning about wedges and deciding exactly which type of wedge is appropriate for your game.
Golfalot.TV: How To Choose Your Wedge
Types of Wedges
Wedges can be divided into four main types
Pitching Wedges (PW)
The first and most common wedge is the Pitching Wedge. Using has a loft of 47-50 degrees; it is used primarily for fuller shots into greens and some longer chip shots. Most sets today, tend towards a stronger Pitching Wedge (i.e. lower lofted Wedge) to create a need for a Gap Wedge.
Gap Wedges (GW)
As the name suggests these wedges fill the ‘Gap’ between the Pitching Wedge and the Sand Wedge. Using varying between 51 and 55 degrees they can be used similarly to a Pitching Wedge but offer slightly more opportunities and variation from the fairway and around the green.
Sand Wedges (SW)
Usually in the range of 56 degrees, a Sand Wedge is primarily used for getting out of greenside bunkers. It is adapted to this by the design of its sole (See below). Also offers more variation in approach shots.
Lob Wedges (LW)
Gradually becoming a more and more popular option in golfer’s bags is the Lob Wedge. As its name suggests it has a large loft, commonly around 60 degrees to offer height in pitch and chip shots. Often used more as a short game club than a approach club it can assist shots from deep rough and sand more than other wedges with less loft.
Loft And Bounce
The Loft of a wedge is simply the angle at which it hits the ball off the ground. As mentioned earlier, lofts of wedges range from 47 degrees to 64 degrees. Most professional or amateur golfers carry three or four wedge, to offer variation and selection to their short games. The more loft on a wedge produces more elevation on your shot, resulting in a higher ball flight with less distance. The chart below shows the variation in ball flights between the different wedges mentioned.
The Bounce of a wedge incorporates many different features of the sole of the club. The ‘bounce’ centres on the part of the club that hits the turf, hence ‘bounces’ the club through the ball. Bounce is the group name for the elements involved in sole design: the bounce angle, the sole width, the leading edge, the rocker and the camber of the wedge.
Finding the correct bounce for a wedge will allow you to improve you chipping and pitching. For firm turf, perhaps found on links courses, a low bounce will help. It will be a sharper contact that will limit the amount of wedge surface that will come in contact with the turf, i.e. producing a shallower divot suited for firmer ground conditions. In comparison, a standard bounce will be more suited to a player who plays on softer turf, offering a deeper divot for a steeper attacking pitch or chip.
The loft of a wedge is simply the angle at which it hits the ball off the ground. As mentioned earlier, lofts of wedges range from 47 degrees to 64 degrees. Most professional or amateur golfers carry three or four wedge, to offer variation and selection to their short games. The more loft on a wedge produces more elevation on your shot, resulting in a higher ball flight with less distance.
Wedges are made of many different material and come in many different finishes and here are some of the main types and their benefits.
The traditional chrome plating is how most wedges arrive. It provides a classic look, soft, solid feel as well as rust protection.
Black Nickel is a special coloured chrome plating finish. It offers the same durability and rust protection as the chrome finish as well as the same soft, solid feel.
Similar to the Black Nickel finish, Nickel offers a mixture of soft inner qualities with a hard strengthened exterior. The dull finish of the Nickel also reduces glare giving a more traditional look.
These are untreated steel wedges that are designed to rust over time. This gives them a much softer feel than chrome and generates more spin. They are also reduced glare, but are the least durable of all the finishes. Used by better players.
This finish is provided by some makers using a heat oxide treatment. This process provides a non-glare appearance as well as a very soft feeling wedge. Over time, the Oil Can finish will wear resulting in a rusty raw wedge.
This finish is similar to both the Oil Can and the Rusty/Raw finish and produces a very soft fell off the club face. It differs in appearance to these other two finishes as it will get darker over time as the oxygen affects the metal.
Virtually all wedges come with steel shafts unless the wedges are part of a graphite set of clubs.
Most steel shafted wedges also come with a standard 'wedge' flex. This is actually more like a stiff shafted steel shaft in flex, but designed specifically for the shorter club. It provides maximum feel and accuracy and in such a short club, the flex is less important.
For more information on shafts, go to the Golf Shafts Buying Guide