What is bounce?
Bounce is the measurement of the curvature of the sole and is usually related to irons and especially wedges. It is measured in degrees as the angle from the front edge of the club’s sole to the point that actually rests on the ground at address.
Why is bounce important?
Bounce is important because it gives the club the characteristics to make it easy to hit from a variety of different lies. The curvature on the sole prevents the club from digging into the ground at impact and to 'bounce' through the sand or turf instead.
With wedges you try to match bounce to turf conditions so higher bounce numbers have more curvature and they are usually good from sand however playing off harder turf a lower bounce is preferable with lower curvature so the leading edge is closer to the ground.
What type of bounces are there?
Bounce varies from club to club. In long irons it tends to be 1° or 2° increasing to around 8° in the highest lofted club in the set as the angle of attack steepens as the loft increases.
Specialist wedges tend to vary the bounce depending on how you swing and the type of shots you want to play. Generally they fall into three categories of low, mid or high bounce. To find out more read our wedge buying guide.
What is effective bounce?
Effective bounce is a combination of the actual bounce of the curvature of the sole and the sole width. It is the two together that create effective bounce of each club, which is usually the number shown on the sole of the club.
This is particularly true of wedges that have a grind on them, where parts of the sole such as the heel or toe have been ground away to make it easier to open up the face. The grind may have a higher actual bounce in the middle of the sole, than its true effective bounce.
Other wedges have a very wide sole, but the actual bounce of the curvature of the sole is relatively low. In this case it is the width of the sole that creates the effective bounce and this style of club is particularly good from sand.
Should you match the level of bounce to the conditions or to the player's swing?
You should do both. Typically average golfers have a hard time making repeatable contact with the ball sitting on the turf so for these players irons have wider soles with more bounce to give them a greater margin for error on arrival at the ball as they tend to hit the ball relatively low on the face. More advanced players attack the ball differently so better player irons tend to have narrower soles and less bounce.
How do I choose the right bounce for my clubs?
As you can see there are a lot of factors in getting the right combination of loft and bounce, especially for wedges. Our recommendation is to get professional advice from a fitter or a club professional who can evaluate your swing from different types of lies and turf conditions.
Find out more with our review of a wedge fitting.