Types of Golf Wedges

The 4 Most Popular Types of Golf Wedges

When golfers are asked about their favorite golf clubs they tend to mention either their driver or their putter, very seldom do golfers refer to a wedge as their favorite club. Wedges are your scoring clubs and these timeless golf clubs deserve a lot more attention than what they receive. 

Wedge designs might not be very flashy, but they are packed with innovation that can make a big difference to your golf game. 

The “scoring zone” might be a foreign term for amateurs but you are considered to be in this zone when you are 130 yards or less away from the green. The majority of golfers will use a wedge to hit to the green from within this scoring zone distance. Wedge shots are very important and good wedge shots will instantly help you to lower your scores. 

It is evident that wedges are important clubs, in this article, we will take a closer look at the following:

  • Anatomy of a golf club 
  • Wedge shot types
  • The 4 different types of wedges 
  • The importance of minding the gap 
  • Bounce, grind and finish defined 

Anatomy of a Golf Wedge

Leading-edge 

The leading edge of a wedge is the bottom edge of the clubface, this bottom edge also wraps around to the bottom front of the clubface underneath the grooves. Leading edges of wedges come in different shapes and sizes, these different leading edges determine the bounce of the wedge. Wedge bounce can be a complicated concept to grasp, we will take a closer look at various bounce options later on in the article. 

Sole 

The sole of a wedge is the relatively flat, bottom area of the clubhead. The sole of a wedge plays an important part with turf interaction and it is the part of the club that ensures that the clubhead doesn’t dig into the ground. 

Bounce 

Master wedge designer, Bob Vokey, defines bounces as: “The angle between the leading edge and lowest point on the sole”. For now, we will define bounce as the part of the club that determines how the clubhead interacts with the ground at impact. We will take a more in-depth look at bounce below. 

Face 

The face of a wedge is the flat area that contains the grooves. 

Grooves 

The grooves on a golf club can be defined as the “teeth” that grips on the cover of the golf ball at impact. This action where the “teeth” sink into the cover of the golf ball is the action that creates spin on the golf ball. Grooves are added to golf clubs through a milling process. Different wedges have different amounts and depth of grooves, the number of grooves depends on the design from the manufacturer. 

Grind 

The grind of a wedge refers to the process where portions of the sole are ground off. Different grinds interact with the turf in different ways, many manufacturers feature branded grinds such as the Titleist Vokey M-Grind. 

To see an illustration of the anatomy of the golf wedge click here

Wedge Shot Types

Wedges are versatile clubs that can be used to hit different types of golf shots. The most important aspects to consider when deciding on what type of shot to hit include distance, lie, amount of green between the fringe and the hole, and firmness of the green. Let’s take a closer look at 5 different types of wedge shots.

Approach shots 

Approach shots are long/full shots where the aim is to land the ball on the green and close to the hole. 

Also read:  What Is Wedge Bounce and How Do You Use it?

Lob shots

Lob shots are also known as flop shots. The majority of golfers and non-golfers all know that Phil Mickelson is the master of the lob shot, to watch some of Phil’s best lob shots click here. Lob shots are ideal if you need to hit over an obstacle such as a bunker or water hazard, the general rule of thumb is that a lob shot is required if you want to carry the ball about 90% and let it roll about 10% of the total shot distance. 

Pitch shots

A pitch shot is a medium trajectory shot that utilises a half swing. Pitch shots offer a good mix of distance and roll. 

Chip shots 

Chip shots are short shots with minimal air-time and maximum roll. Chip shots are ideal if you are right next to the green and there is a fair amount of green between you and the flag. 

Sand/bunker shots 

Bunker shots are shots out of sand traps next to the green. Bunker shots can be played in a variety of different ways but the best way is to open up the face of a wedge and to hit the sand about an inch behind the golf ball. 

The 4 Most Popular Types of Golf Wedges

1. Pitching Wedge (PW)

  • Loft range: 44-48 degrees
  • PW’s come standard with nearly every iron set, it is very rare for a set to be available without a PW. The majority of players use their PW’s for full shots and it is a continuation from a 9 iron. 

2. Gap/approach wedge (GW)

  • Loft range: 50-54 degrees
  • Some manufacturers call it a gap wedge and others call it an approach wedge. The gap wedge fills the gap between the PW and the SW, without a GW a massive gap will exist between your PW and SW of roughly 8 – 10 degrees. Different golfers use their GW for different shots, some prefer their GW around the greens, and others prefer to hit long pitch shots with their GW. The market is filled with high-quality gap wedges, to learn more about 5 of the best options currently available on the market click here

3. Sand Wedge (SW)

  • Loft range: 54-58 degrees
  • Its name can be deceiving but the sand wedge is a very versatile wedge to have. Your SW is a great option out of a bunker, for a full shot or around the green for chip shots. 

4. Lob Wedge (LW)

  • Loft range: 60-64 degrees
  • The lob wedge is the newest member of the wedge family. Lob wedges are designed to hit the golf ball with maximum height and spin. Some players love their lob wedges and others shy away from this lofted wedge. If you have the correct skill set the lob wedge can be a very powerful weapon to have in your bag. 

The Importance of Minding The Gap

The loft gaps between your irons and wedges must make sense to ensure good distance control throughout your bag. PW gaps differ from brand to brand and standard PW lofts range between 44 and 48 degrees. The normal gap between irons in terms of loft is 4-5 degrees. If the PW in your set has 48 degrees of loft a gap wedge isn’t necessary, this, however, is a different case if your PW is 44 degrees, then there is a definite need for a 48 or 50-degree gap wedge. 

Bounce

The bounce of a wedge can be defined as the angle created between the leading edge and the lowest point of the sole of the club. The bounce of a wedge controls the resistance of the clubhead to dig into the ground. Wedges are available in three different classifications with each serving a different purpose. Let’s take a closer look at different bounce options and at how this relates to your golf game. 

Also read:  The 5 Best Golf Approach Wedges

Low bounce

Low bounce wedges feature between 4 and 6 degrees of bounce. Wedges with low bounce are ideal for golfers with shallow swings that tend to sweep the ball off of the ground. Golfers with shallow swings tend to hit very small divots with their wedges. Low bounce wedges aren’t just for players with shallow swings. Low bounce wedges are very beneficial when playing in firm conditions, the low bounce will ensure that the clubhead interacts with the turf in a forgiving manner. 

Mid bounce

Mid bounce wedges feature 7 to 10 degrees of bounce. Wedges with mid bounce are ideal for golfers that play on a wide variety of firm and soft golf courses. Mid bounce wedges are the most popular option amongst amateur golfers. Professional golfers have different sets of wedges for different courses with different bounce options. 

High bounce

High bounce wedges feature 11 – 14 degrees of bounce. Wedges with high bounce are ideal for golfers that have a steep angle of attack, players that play in soft conditions will also benefit by opting for a high bounce wedge.   

Bounce can be a confusing concept to grasp for amateur golfers. If you can go for a wedge fitting before purchasing a new set of wedges then I would recommend it. 

Grind

The grind of a wedge can be defined as the width and shape of the sole of the club. Wedge designers play around with different grind options and many new grind designs have hit the market over the last 5 years. Different options sound great but all of these options complicate the buying process for amateur golfers. Different grind options make a big difference and it is vital to play with a grind option that matches your swing. 

Grinds differ from brand to brand, unfortunately, there is no standard classification for grinds, make sure to consult the help of a professional if you are in doubt about which grind option to buy. To learn more about the different wedge grind options from Titleist click here

Finish

The different finish options of wedges are often overlooked given the fact that there are so many other factors to consider. The finish of a wedge gives the clubhead its unique color. The majority of the major golf brands offer two different finish options which are chrome and raw. Let’s take a closer look at the differences of these finishes. 

Chrome

Callaway Mackdaddy 4 Chrome Wedge
Callaway Mackdaddy 4 Chrome Wedge

Chrome finishes will last the longest out of all of the different finish options. Chrome wedges aren’t known for their forgiveness but they do offer exceptional durability. One of the downsides of a Chrome wedge is that the sun can glare off the clubface. 

Raw finish 

Callaway Mackdaddy 4 Raw Wedge
Callaway Mackdaddy 4 Raw Wedge

Wedges with a raw finish are essentially unfinished. What this means is that the clubhead will rust over time as the wedge gets used. In return, the rust on the clubhead will promote exceptional feel and spin. Raw wedges are very forgiving and glare from the sunlight isn’t a problem. The only downfall is that raw wedges wear out faster than other finishes. 

Conclusion

The 4 most popular types of golf wedges are the pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge. Each of these wedge types features subtle design differences but at the end of the day, loft is the differentiating factor between these wedges. Professional players tend to carry 4 wedges in their bag, in comparison, high handicappers tend to carry only 3 wedges. 

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many wedges you carry in your golf bag, what matters is that your wedges are gapped out consistently in terms of loft and that their bounce and grinds match your swing type. Wedge shots are your scoring shots, improvement in your wedge play might just be that boost that your golf game needed. 

Bertine Strauss
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Bertine Strauss
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