Most golfers want to hit the ball very far but a lot of amateurs fail to appreciate the importance of having a club for every yard below the capacity of their long clubs. On a normal par 4/5 hole, for instance, the average golfers normally land the ball close to the green in one or two shots but in the succeeding swings, their scores drastically go up. In such situations, professionals easily land their balls on the green and keep it rolling towards the hole.
On the other hand, the weekend golfer normally hits short of, or beyond the green. Let’s examine a very common reason for such a mistake. Beginners lack a club that would land the ball exactly on the green and not before or after it. If a ball lands around 80 yards before the green, it will normally be a challenge for those who hit their pitching wedge from 100~140 yards and their sand wedge at 70 yards.
Using a pitching wedge will land the ball beyond the green and probably into a waiting bunker while using the sand wedge will be as equally disastrous. Trying to swing the sand wedge faster or swinging the pitching wedge slower normally results in bad shots.
A simple solution is to use the best approach wedge (aka gap wedge). Lofted at 50 to 54 degrees, depending on the maker, the approach wedge is rated to hit about 80 yards for most amateurs. Adding an approach wedge would drastically increase the chance of landing the ball on the green. Simply using the appropriate club and not changing a swing can lead to more accurate shots. Before the beginner realizes it, his handicap had gone down while his skill level remained.
The 5 Best Approach Wedges:
Below are the 5 best golf approach wedges. You should select the best one for you based on your taste and playing style.
1. Titleist Vokey SM7 Approach Wedge
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Renowned as one of the world’s best wedge designers, Bob Vokey wouldn’t lend his name to this design if he didn’t have a hand in perfecting it, and most importantly, if he doesn’t approve of it. The SM7, from Titleist, has a nice bounce, toe, and heel that makes it great on both full swings and the sand wedges, for bunker shots.
It’s used in tournaments by some of the biggest names in golf and pros rate Vokey SM7 as the best golf approach wedge. This club, however, while great for pros, is not the best for amateurs.
(note: Titleist released a Vokey SM8 wedge on January 2020).
2. Cleveland CBX2 Approach Wedge
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For amateurs, this is the top recommendation, from Cleveland, due to its extreme versatility and extraordinary forgiveness. A result of a major upgrade of the CBX 2018, it comes in both graphite and lightweight steel to cater to various golfer preferences. Some golfers like steel and are weirded out by very light graphite. However, some golfers like graphite much better.
Both steel and graphite last a very long time when regularly used. Based on observation, stacking it for many years is the culprit that occasionally breaks some shafts. It’s up to the individual to choose based on the feel. CBX2 comes in both. Take your pick.
3. Wilson Harmonized Approach Wedge
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|50°||Unspecified||Unique Wilson Design||35″||unspecified|
|52°||Unspecified||Unique Wilson Design||35″||unspecified|
This club has a blade shape that visually appeals to both veterans and beginners. However, it is this model’s forgiveness and performance that greatly benefits mid to high handicap golfers. Its design provides maximum spin even if the golfer isn’t very skilled. A good backspin, as most golfers know, provides for a nice grip on the green.
According to a lot of reviews, the best feature of this club is its low price. Wilson harmonized wedges are rated to provide the best value for its price. One downside to this model is its limited features. Wilson harmonized wedges only come in the standard steel shaft and the ladies approach wedge only has the 52-degree club.
4. Callaway JAWS MD5 Forged Approached Wedge
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Of course, Callaway is one of the most recognizable names of golf clubs. Until now, this label is carried by some of the best players in the world like Phil Mickelson – The master of the wedges. The Callaway JAWS MD5 approach wedges give justice to the brand for they are deemed excellent for the mid handicapped golfer.
This model also rocks in the looks department with four holes drilled at the back of the sole that golfers are familiar with. In terms of performance, the approach wedge has just the right amount of grooves to generate great spin but not too much in order to control trajectory.
Its selection of S-, W-, and C- grinds are most certain to shave some points in a game.
5. TaylorMade Grind 2 (MG2) Approach Wedge
Recommended for mid to low handicap players, this club is designed for precision, spin, and feel. This club is not plated to reduce if not eliminate the sun’s reflection that distracts most serious golfers. The absence of plating leaves the surface of the club rough. That increases ball contact and generates more spin.
That, however, is also a negative feature because it leaves the club unprotected and prone to rusts. Other than that, the club boasts of precisely made grooves for the widely sought after ball spin.
Carried by some of the greatest golfers in the world like Tiger Woods, TaylorMade engineered this club with great attention to detail making MG2 a very precise club and one of the most expensive in the market. Not bad if you are looking for quality and unmindful of the price.
Approach Wedge Vs Similar Wedges
To clear any confusion between the approach and other wedges here are comparisons:
Approach Wedge vs Gap Wedge
The approach wedge is the same as the gap wedge. Golfers in certain places call it the gap wedge while in other places, it’s most popularly called the approach wedge. The only difference is in the manufacturer’s designs. Different brands have their preferred lofts but almost all of them design their Gap/Approach wedges within the range of 50~54 degrees. Always check the loft and degree of a bounce before buying a replacement wedge.
Approach Wedge vs Pitching Wedge
The pitching wedge is intended to be used in a full swing and for most golfers, land the ball within 80 to 110 yards. It is used when a 9 iron would hit the ball farther than the target distance which may be a body of water, out of bounds, and other undesirable locations. In contrast, the approach wedge is mostly used to hit within 50~80 yards (full swing).
In the absence of an approach wedge, a golfer needs to train using a pitching wedge in full, three quarters, and a half swing to determine the yardage of each swing. When faced with a distance below the reach of a pitching wedge but greater than that of a sand wedge, the approach wedge is the most convenient choice.
Approach Wedge vs Sand Wedge
The sand wedge, as the name implies, is designed to be used in sand traps (bunkers) around the green. It has 54 to 58 degrees of loft makes it a good club to slide under, lift the ball, and land it into the green. Using an approach wedge to do that is doable but not easy. It’s best to use the sand wedge for that purpose.
The sand wedge is also used outside of the bunker. For most golfers, it can be hit at full swing and used to land the ball to approximately 70 yards. Hitting the ball a little beyond that requires an approach wedge.
Approach Wedge vs Lob Wedge
One of the golf greats who like to use the Lob Wedge (58~60 degrees) is Phil Mickelson -the master of the short game. Famous for the line, “There’s only one way to chip, a million ways to putt, and a million ways to swing”, he uses the lob wedge for low flight shots that quickly land and rolls towards the hole.
He also uses it for high ball shots to get it out of a bunker or over an obstacle. In contrast, the approach wedge may be used to roll the ball towards a target. Using the approach wedge to fly out of a deep bunker will require hundreds of hours of practice. The simpler method is to use the lob wedge for that purpose.
How to Hit an Approach Wedge:
In a feature at Golfdigest, Rickie Fowler, winner of 5 PGA Tour and 4 international championships and with career earnings of $38.6 Million (as of 2020), explains that hitting with an approach wedge requires controlled body movements. The body movement is 90 percent similar when hitting a long iron but there’s added emphasis on consistency of body movements.
Time for swing: 1 minute
Step 1: Backswing
According to Rickie Fowler, both arms and trunk should arrive and stop at the top at the same time during the backswing. This is different from a backswing with long clubs where the arms may travel a little farther after the trunk has stopped turning.
Step 2: Downswing
Always swing aggressively during the downswing and turn the hips toward the target. If an approach wedge hits 85 yards at full swing and the target is at 75, beginners normally try to swing slower, hoping to deduct 10 yards from the distance.
This very often leads to disaster as they tend to miss the club’s sweet spot and worse, flip their hands. Aggressively swing through and never forget to turn the hips. Ricky Fowler’s method in reducing distances is simply to grip down, starting an inch, to the end. The result is 5 ~ 20 yards in shaved distance.
Take it from one of the sport’s best. Those tips are very short and simple.
Popular Approach Wedge FAQs:
What loft is an approach wedge?
An approach wedge is lofted 50~54 degrees. Different brands have their preferred lofts for the approach wedge.
What degree is the bounce of the approach wedge?
Wedges have three main bounces: Low (4 ~ 6 degrees); Mid (7~10 degrees; and, High (10 degrees and above). Low bounces are ideal for hitting Phil Mickelson style flop shots. The mid bounce favors all swing types and neutral attack angle. The high bounce is designed for softer grass covers, fluffy lies, and with soft sand.
What is an approach wedge used for?
The approach wedge is designed to hit distances between pitching and a sand wedge. Normally, a pitching wedge would hit between 80~110 and a sand wedge would go for 70 yards. For the normal golfer, the approach wedge is best for 80~85 yards.
This article hopefully defined what an approach wedge is, how and when it is used and explained how different it is from the other golf wedges. The article also featured the 5 best golf approach wedges for both professionals and beginners. Beginners need not buy the most expensive wedges for it may not be practical.
We discussed what an approach wedge is, how and when it is used and explained how different it is from the other golf wedges. We also featured the 5 best golf approach wedges for both professionals and beginners. Golf newbies need not buy the most expensive wedges for it may not be practical.
They should be more concerned with what is most appropriate for their swing style and skill level. We featured both expensive and less costly clubs that are highly rated and would enhance the quality of one’s game. In the end, the selection of the best golf approach wedge will be upon those who will use it. There is not a single club that would be the best for all. Every human body moves differently from the other making equipment selection a decision best left on the individual player.
This article was last updated on January 19, 2021 .