Different Types of Golf Wedges: Sand Wedge vs. Lob Wedge vs Pitching Wege Loft
A golfer that takes deep divots is different from one that just brushes the turf on the green. Playing on a tight fairway requires different golf equipment than playing on firmer or softer ones. In each of these cases, the strategy and setup will be different.
That’s why golf companies have designed different types of wedges to suit different golfers and the situation in which they play. After several hours of research and sifting through dozens of sources, TellMeMoreGolf presents you the most comprehensive guide to golf wedges.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of wedges, what each one does, how to choose the right golf wedge set and get properly fitted.
Table of Contents
Sand Wedge: Explained
Sand traps and bunkers can handicap the most skillful of players. If you find yourself where you have to hit the ball out of the bunker, a sand wedge is your best option. This club is specifically designed to help golfers hit balls out of bunkers or sand traps.
A sand wedge will have a heavy clubhead and a broader sole of all the types of wedges and typically features a loft between 54 and 65 degrees.
Sand wedges let you hit the ball through the sand without digging in, thanks to their superior bounce and lower spin. Their wider and angled sole provides you lots of flexibilities such as allowing you to play in soft lies.
Because of their high loft, high trajectory, and low spin, sand wedges help you hit the ball closer to the hole, reducing the chances of it bouncing or rolling away from the target. You’re also able to use sand wedges to extract golf balls from the sand bunkers or as a regular short iron.
If you’re a skilled golfer, you can expect to hit up to 100 yards with this club. Sand wedges were once great for chips, flop shots, and bunker shots, but have been overtaken by lob wedges.
Lob wedges are the newest addition to the wedge family. They are a type of golf club with the shortest shafts, but also the highest loft, making them an excellent choice for golfers looking for short, high arc shots.
Lob wedges are the shortest clubs, overtaking sand shots for being the highest lofted club with 60 to 65 degrees. You use a lob wedge when you need to lift the ball past high rising grasses and other obstacles on the green.
Because shots on lob wedges are under 80 yards, getting the ball high up in the air is easier and more effective than sand wedges. The other great thing about them is they help you get a soft landing on the green, thanks to the high trajectory.
Like sand wedges, these will likely not come with your golf club set. So, you may have to purchase them separately. The lob wedge’s most important use is pitching over an obstacle such as a tree standing between the target and the location of the ball.
Tom Kite was the first professional golfer to use the lob wedge on tour while Karsten Solheim, founder of PING, commercialized it. The lob wedge isn’t built for power. So, an amateur may not be able to go over 30 yards with it. A pro can maximize its performance though, and score up to 90 yards, even on a fairway.
Aside from the sand wedge and lob wedge, there are also pitching wedge and gap wedge, which will be explained further down.
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Importance of Pitching Wedge Loft
Wedges have more loft than any other golf club, including your irons, drivers, putters, and wood. The loft on a pitching wedge is typically around 46 to 48 degrees, being the least lofted of all the wedges.
They also have a different profile in that they usually come in the iron set, making them the most used as most golfers have easy access to them. If you’re an experienced golfer, you probably want more specialized wedges as they can help more with your control and spin.
Pitching wedges (shorthand PW) are a versatile option as they’re often used for long chip shots or full swings. You can get between 110 to 140 yards on a full swing.
Because of their lower loft, pitching wedges are able to send more energy at impact, enabling them to hit the ball farther than other wedges. Sort of like how a 5 iron will fly further than a 6 iron.
Everyone knows how important the right wedge loft is for the short game. It’s very important to know your pitching wedge loft because that’s what you’ll need for your gapping. If your pitching wedge loft is 46, for example, your next set of wedges can be spaced by 4 or 5 degrees each.
This is your loft gap and sticking with it helps you cover approach shots from different lies and yardage. So, you can putt with a gap wedge of 50 degrees, a sand wedge of 54 degrees, and a lob wedge of 58 degrees.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll need the pitching wedge to master your short game. You may need the assistance of a club fitter to understand the most suitable wedge loft you will be using. Once you’re ready to do sand or high pitch shots, you can transition to a sand wedge.
Sand Wedge vs Lob Wedge: Are they different?
Do you need to carry a lob wedge in your golf bag? The short answer is no. Sand wedges and lob wedges are generally considered the same type of club in the sense that they’re both hit in the sand trap and around the greens. So, choosing one depends on how you want to shape your shots.
Grinds and Bounces: What You Need to Hit the Ball Consistently
The grind and bounce on a wedge are the mechanics that dictate how the leading edge sits on the turf and behaves during impact. They also affect the feel, force, performance of your wedge. The bounce is the forgiveness in your wedge while the grind improves its contact with the turf.
If your angle of attack is steep and you take a divot, go with a wedge with high bounce and a wider grind and sole. A high bounce means at least 10 degrees, suitable for softer lofts, and great for preventing the leading edge from sinking into the sand, allowing you to hit the ball still.
However, if you’re a sweeper, you’re looking for a low bounce, with a flat grind. A low bounce will have more than 16 degrees, are suitable for harder turf conditioners, allowing for a clean ball contact. The grind on the wedge helps with consistent spin rates and clubhead speed as well as preventing wedge chunking.
Importance of the Right Golf Wedge & How to Pick One
Picking the right wedge can help you perform at your optimum. You’ll also be confident in your ability to hit and swing when you have the proper setup. The wrong wedge can translate into poor swinging and getting bad shots, leading to poor scores.
Follow these guidelines to pick the right wedge:
- Know your skill level. Because that will dictate the kind of wedge you go for. Professional golfers often have all four wedges in their golf bags. If you’re a beginner, a pitching wedge (sometimes with a sand wedge) should be enough for you.
- Consider the loft. Remember, the higher the loft, the higher the ball flight trajectory and backspin. A high loft means the clubface is facing upward more, so when you hit, the ball goes up into the air with more spin. With a lower loft, you’ll be able to hit the ball further.
- Pick the right wedge. Generally, there are 4 types of golf wedges. They include pitching, sand, gap, and lob wedges, all with different lofts. Pitching wedges have a loft of 46 degree and are the longest relative to other wedges and often has the least loft. A gap wedge (or an approach wedge) is smaller than a pitching wedge and fills the gap between pitching and sand wedge. They generally have a loft around 50 degrees and often with a bounce, which is the amount of curve on the bottom of the club. It lets the club bounce through the turf, making golf shots easier. A sand wedge, as the name implies, is used for sand shots and will have a loft of around 54 degrees. A lob wedge is the most lofted and has the most bounce. It’ll have a 60 degree loft.
- Select your bounce angle. Bounce angle is equally important. The bounce angle is normally added to keep the wedge from digging into the turf or sand. Thus, it’s affected by different course conditions. If your golf course is soft, sandy, or smooth, you can pick a medium (<16 degrees) or high bounce (>16 degrees) since making proper contacts on such terrain is easier. However, if the surface of your golf course is tougher and less forgiving, you need a low bounce (<10 degrees) for your wedge.
Get fitted. If you want the best performance, then get fitted by a certified fitter. Not only will they get you a personalized setup, they’ll also explain how all of the factors above can affect your game.
How to Choose the Right Golf Wedge Set
When you have the right wedge set, you can easily make birdie or get out of a tricky golf situation with par. A wrong one, on the other hand, can expose you on the golf course and even cost you a few valuable shots.
Generally, golfers will have three golf wedges in their set. Pros like Rory Mcllroy, Justin Thomas, etc., often have four in their golf bag.
However, the course you’re playing on should determine the number in your set. It can also come down to personal choice, where you’re determining what feels/looks good, have appropriate bounce, and fitting suitable for your game.
If you’re playing on a short course, for instance, having more wedges on hand is important. The opposite is true too, where you need a smaller number if the course is long. A hybrid or a fairway wood may serve as a backup.
A good combination would then be a 45, 50, 56, 60 or 45, 50, 54, 60, or 45, 50, 55, 60. The combination of brands isn’t that important. Your set can include different brands like Callaway, Titleist, Cleveland, Mizuno, TaylorMade, all of which have great clubs to choose from.
Frequently Asked Questions: Wedge Irons
What do different wedges do in golf?
A pitching wedge allows you to get approach shots on the green or to keep your chip shots low. They’re also used for wedge shots. A gap wedge is designed to close the gap between a pitching and sand wedge.
It’s also known as approach wedge, attack wedge, or A-wedge. With a sand wedge, you can easily make bunkers shots, which is difficult with an iron if you’re not a pro.
Finally, you use the lob wedge for very high arc shots, or to carry the ball over an obstacle (such as a hill), or if you want to decrease the roll of the ball and put it to a stop quickly.
What are 3 types of wedges?
There are 3 wedge categories and this includes the gap, sand, and lob wedge. This is because a pitching wedge most likely comes with your set of irons, so you don’t need to worry about getting one.
However, these other wedges are sold separately, which means they don’t come with your set. That’s why pitching wedges are the most commonly used wedges, they don’t require extra cost or effort.
What type of wedges should I have?
There are two approaches to this. You can either carry three wedges in your golf bag. In this case, we recommend a combination of 45 degree pitching wedge, 50 degree gap wedge, and 55 degree lob wedge. That’s a 5 degree loft gap. This is the most common type for golfers.
If you want to close the gap and are consistently hitting the ball above 250 yards off the tee, you can make it four wedges. In this case, we recommend going with a 45 degree pitching wedge, 50 degree gap wedge, 55 degree sand wedge, and 60 degree lob wedge.
How do you pick a golf wedge?
With all the different types of wedges out there, their degrees of loft, the kind of shots you can get on them, etc., it can get confusing quickly. But you don’t have to worry.
Before you can choose the right wedge, you need to know your skill level, so you can pick the one with the right loft, bounce and grind. If you’re a beginner, for example, you may only need a pitching and sand wedge. Or get fitted. The easiest way to pick a golf wedge is to have a professional fitter give you the optimum setup for your level.
What degree wedge is best for chipping?
The best wedges for chipping will have 56 degrees of loft. A wedge of this degree of loft will help you generate maximum height and spin without compromising control on chip shots. Usually, a gap wedge will have this amount of loft, in addition to their clean leading edge, making them the most suitable for chipping.
Conclusion: Picking Wedge Irons: Tests and Research by Tellmemoregolf.com
Wedges have many use cases, including pitch, bunker shots, chip, and even approach shots. The full benefits come with knowing not just the different types out there but also how they work and how you can fully exploit them. Now that you know all of them, what they do, and how to pick the right ones, it’s time to get one and take your game to the next level.
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