Golf Wedge Buying Guide: What to Know Before Buying
Did you know that nearly 25% of your golf shots each round will be played using a wedge? Having strong chipping skills will be a vital part of any golfer’s game.
And it starts with choosing the right golf wedges to add to your bag of clubs.
There are many advanced technology features being implemented into today’s golf wedges by manufacturers so it’s key to understand these components and how they affect your chip shots.
In this guide we will discuss:
- Types of Golf Wedges (4 Main Types)
- Loft Options
- Bounce Options on Wedges
- Sole Grinds
If you’re looking for our recommend list of the best wedges to buy, we created a review style article you can read here to learn about specific clubs and their pricing.
It covers all the best wedges for sale on the market today from all the best club manufacturer brands like Cleveland, Callaway, Titleist, and more.
But first, you should read this wedge buying guide to learn about the components of wedge design and then head over to our review article to see golf wedge brands and pricing.
Resource: Best Golf Chipping Practice Drills
Types of Wedges
Wedges can be divided into four main types:
- Pitching Wedges
- Gap Wedges
- Sand Wedges
- Lob Wedges
Pitching Wedges (PW)
The pitching wedge is most common of the four wedge types and is a staple club every golfer should have in their bag. The loft is typically between 44-48 degrees and is used for full swing shots approximately 100-130 yards away from the green.
Gap Wedges (GW)
Gap wedges serve the purpose of filling the “gap” between a pitching wedge and sand wedge. The loft is typically between 50 to 53 degrees.
It’s a great club to have in the bag for those tough 70 to 100 yard wedge shots, allowing you to make a full swing or three quarter swing to achieve such distances. Additional names for this club are the attack wedge (AW) and the utility wedge (UW).
Sand Wedges (SW)
Sand wedges are more commonly referred to by their club loft degrees as their name, instead of the word sand wedge. For example, a golfer will say “I hit a nice shot today with my 56 degree wedge.”
The loft on a sand wedge is typically 54 degrees, 56 degrees, and 58 degrees depending on which wedge loft option you prefer to have in your bag. This golf wedge is used most commonly for chipping around the greens as well as greenside bunker shots.
Lob Wedges (LW)
Lob wedges are the newest of the wedge designs. Phil Mickelson has helped make them famous thanks to his jaw dropping flop shots he has pulled off in PGA tournaments with his lob wedges. As its name suggests it has a high loft of around 60 to 64 degrees, allowing golfers to produce more height and spin on golf shots near the green.
While pitching wedges and gap wedges are used for full shots, the lob wedge is used more to hit chips, flop shots and bunker shots. The bounce is often much lower so hitting full shots with it from 40-70 yards can be more challenging, which is why many resort to using it primarily for high flying flop shots around the green that stop quickly.
Loft is what gives your golf shot it’s height and trajectory. More loft results in a higher ball flight but also less distance as a result. Loft is measured by the angle that the face sits relative to a vertical line from the ground up to the sky.
Most amateur golfers and professional golfers alike, choose to carry multiple wedges in their bag with different lofts. We recommend buying a 52, 56, and 60 degree wedge so that the loft degrees are equally spread apart in 4 degree variations to cover a wide range of shots.
The key in choosing a set of wedges is to make sure that there are no big gaps in loft between the lowest lofted iron in your golf club set and the first wedge.
This is why the pitching wedge is often a staple club every golfer carries in their bag to cover the gap between your chipping wedge and your 9 iron, but some players also add a gap wedge as well.
If you’ve ever analyzed a wedge closely you’ll notice that it doesn’t sit perfectly flat on the ground. Bounce is the angle created between the contact point the sole of the club makes with the ground and the leading edge of the wedge face.
Bounce get’s its name because it’s the part of the golf club that hits the ground and then “bounces” through the surface under the ball, at impact.
When the club doesn’t bounce, we get those digging golf shots, where the leading edge of the club buries into the ground resulting in a chunky shot.
If you tend to have a steeper swing, you’ll want to choose a wedge with more bounce.
For flop shots, where the club face opens up and lies more flat on the ground, less bounce is often desired to help the wedge avoid bouncing and skulling the flop shot.
Low Bounce Wedges
Wedges are consider low bounce usually if they have a bounce angle of 4 to 6 degrees. A quick test to determine if you should use a low bounce wedge is to look at your divots.
Do you take shallow divots, sweeping the golf ball of the ground? If so, this is likely a great bounce option for your swing type. Additionally, if you play a golf course with firmer conditions and tight lies, then low bounce may better suit you.
Mid Bounce Wedges
Any wedge with 7 to 10 degrees of bounce is considered to be a mid-bounce wedge. It will be the most versatile option, suited to a wider range of conditions and swing types.
High Bounce Wedges
High bounce wedges have more than 10 degrees of bounce, meaning the leading edge sits higher when the sole is rested on the ground. High-bounce wedges are best suited to players who dig at impact, taking deep divots.
It’s also a great option if you play courses with softer conditions and bunkers with deep fine sand. Check the bounce number printed on the wedge for 10 or higher.
What is sole grind? It’s the shape of the sole of the wedge around the heel or the toe. Different shaping of the sole allows golfers to set the wedge different on the ground to suit specific turf conditions and shot types.
Club manufacturers like Cleveland & Titleist have machinery that literally grinds the sole of the wedge to give it a distinct shape. You’ll notice, for example, some wedges may lie more flat by grinding away the back edge of the wedge sole to help the club face open up and lie flat for flop shots.
However sole grinds also change the bounce of the sole so it is important to receive advice from a teaching professional on the types of grinds that will suit your game.
Here is a photo example so you can see how the sole design varies on each wedge.
As you can see, there are a variety of grind options depending on which brand you’re buying a wedge from. Titleist’s latest 2018 wedges come in 6 options (F, S, M, K, T, L) while Cleveland has 3 options (V-LG, V-MG, V-FG) and Callaway has 4 grind options (S, C, W, X).
Shafts & Flex
Virtually all wedges come with steel shafts but you can check the specs on the club manufacturers website to confirm. For senior players, you may prefer graphite shaft wedges or if the wedges are part of a graphite set of clubs then this will be your shaft type by default.
Shaft flex is important especially in wedges to give you maximum feel and control. Most steel shaft wedges still have some flex to give you feel.
Lastly, a wedge will go through finishing which give it a distinct look and color.
Personally, I like the dark satin wedges. However, these darker finishes will wear out over time as the paint chips off, leaving wear marks.
The longest lasting finishes are the Nickel or Chrome (silver). Additionally, I’ve seen wedges made in bronze and gold if you’re into that sort of thing.
Unplated or raw finishes are designed to wear or rust more over time, which can improve friction and lead to improved spin.
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