Buyer's Guide: Wedges

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For this buying guide I will assume you already have a set of irons, and that set includes at least the 4 iron to Pitching Wedge. If you are looking to buy some wedges, first thing you need to do is figure out how many wedges you have room for in your bag, and exactly what you already have in the way of wedges. You’re only allowed to carry 14 clubs in your bag, so you need to count up how many you already have.

Before I get into which wedge or wedges you should consider buying it might help if I list the different wedges available in the order of the distance you might expect to hit them. Let’s start with the longest yardage wedge, that would be the Gap Wedge. Next comes the Sand Wedge, followed by the 60* Lob Wedge, and lastly, the 64* High Lob wedge. You also need to be aware that Gap and Sand wedges come in a few different lofts. Gap wedge lofts run from 50* up to 52*. Sand wedge lofts run from 54* up to 57*. These are general ranges for these clubs and are not to be taken as absolute limits for loft.

Once we know how many wedges you have room for, we can figure out which wedges to buy. Let’s start by looking at your PW. We need to know the loft of your PW, so we can pick the correct loft for the rest of your wedges. If you already have a Sand Wedge, that’s going to help as well. What I always recommend is that EVERY golfer buys a Gap Wedge to go along with their PW and SW. What you want to get is a GW that is HALF WAY between your Pitching wedge and your Sand Wedge in terms of LOFT. Here’s why you need a Gap Wedge. If you are like most every other golfer in the world, you have pretty much even yardage gaps between all you irons, especially your short irons. This should be true for all your irons, UNTIL you get to your Sand Wedge. This is where the yardage gap DOUBLES for most golfers, between the Pitching Wedge and the Sand Wedge. This is because you have nice even LOFT difference between all your irons from 3 iron down to the PW. Then the loft gap gets twice as big or even more. This big change in loft is why most all golfers have a yardage gap that is twice the size of all their other yardage gaps between the PS and the SW. And this is where the GAP WEDGE comes in. It’s called a GAP wedge for a good reason; it fills the GAP between your PW and SW, in terms of carry distance. And in order to get the yardage split right down the middle, you need to know the loft of your PW and your SW, so you can buy a GAP wedge that fits right in the middle. Since most all Sand wedges are marked with the loft of the club, you shouldn’t have any problems with this half of your task. Problems start when you have to figure out what the loft of your Pitching wedge is, since not all are created equal. Best thing to do is to go to the website of the brand of irons you have and see if you can find out what the loft of your Pitching wedge is. Most OEM’s have this data posted somewhere on their site. If you can’t find it on the site, you might have to contact customer service and ask for the information.

Once we have the loft of your PW, you’re ready to add your first wedge, which I recommend be a Gap wedge. Most likely if you check, the loft difference of your short irons, will be 4 degrees per club. And this is what you should aim for with your Gap wedge. Let’s say your Pitching wedge has 47 degrees of loft. Then you would want to buy a Gap wedge with 51 degrees of loft. Then you can add a 45 degree Sand wedge and maintain your 4 degree loft gaps. If you still have room for one more wedge, you can add a 60 degree Lob wedge. And if you still have more room left, you can add a 64 degree High Lob wedge to your bag.

This would be my RECOMMENDED way to figure out what LOFT wedges you should be looking to buy. Next thing you need to think about is the BOUNCE ANGLE of your new clubs. Bounce angle is the angle between the sole of the club and the ground, WHEN the shaft is vertical to the ground. The higher the bounce angle, the HARDER it will be for you to play a shot from FIRM CONDITIONS. The lower the bounce angle, the easier it would be. It is especially important to consider the type of sand in the bunkers where you play. If the sane is soft and fluffy, then you want a HIGH BOUNCE Sand wedge. If the sand is usually wet or FIRM, then you should buy a low bounce Sand Wedge. For SOFT sand, I’d recommend getting a bounce angle of 12 to 15 degrees. For FIRM sand I’d recommend going with a bounce angle of 8 to 10 degrees. If you don’t know what type of sand you have in your area, it might be best to ask a good golf instructor at the course you play to most, or a member of the grounds crew for advice.

Gap wedges and Lob wedges also come in a few different bounce angles, but I normally recommend buying these wedges with low bounce angles. One reason for this is that if you play bunkers with soft fluffy sand your Sand wedge will be a high bounce wedge. And if you buy a low bounce Gap and Lob wedge, you now have a good wedge to use from ALL conditions, on any course you might play. On those occasions when you find yourself in a bunker with firm sand, you can now play the shot with either your Gap or Lob wedge depending you how far you need to carry the ball to get it close to the flag.

Last thing you have to ask yourself is DO YOU PLAY IN TOURNAMENTS. If you do, you will want to make sure you only buy wedges with the new CONFORMING GROOVES. If you don’t play in tournaments, I’d recommend you buy wedges with the older style grooves that will provide more back spin on the ball which will make it a little easier for you to stop the ball on the greens. Another advantage to buying the older wedges would be you might be able to find them at a lower price, since they will be last years’ models and might be on sale.

And IF you care, you can find wedges in a few different FINISHES. Standard will be a silver color, either chrome plating or stainless steel. You can also find wedges with a BLACK finish, or an OIL CAN finish. The last two finishes will WEAR OFF fairly quickly, but some golfers prefer them due to the DULL finish. Basically what finish you buy is a matter of taste and what suits your eye best. Performance will be pretty much the same no matter the finish you get.

As usual, I would recommend you DEMO a few wedges if at all possible before you buy. Because you will be playing most all your shots with these clubs from the ground, not a tee, I’d recommend you DEMO these clubs OUTDOORS if at all possible. You might want to check with the different OEM website and look up DEMO DAYS coming up. This is a great way to DEMO a few different clubs at No cost, with a tech rep handy to ask any questions you might have.