Golf Wedge Buying Guide
What is a Golf Wedge
Research has proven that about 25% of all shots are played with a wedge, so they are definitely a vital part of any golfer’s game. They can help you create birdies or save pars, but they can cause problems for those who struggle around the greens when they don’t use the right type of wedge for a particular shot. That’s why it’s so essential that the wedge you use adds to your game and doesn’t detract from it. Wedges can seem to be basic clubs that aren’t as advanced in the way of technology as, say, a driver or an iron, but this is simply not true. What you need to do is research and find the wedge that suits your particular swing to get the most out of it.
There are basically four types of wedge that you can choose from, so be sure to know ahead of time what kind of wedge you need to suit your swing.
- Pitching Wedges: This is the most common type of wedge, and it features a loft between 44-48 degrees. Used primarily for full shots into greens and some longer chip shots, the modern sets will have a lower lofted or stronger pitching wedge to meld with longer hitting iron designs, while also creating a need for a gap wedge.
- Gap Wedges: These wedges literally fill the gap between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. They’re sometimes referred to as an attack or utility wedge, and they tend to carry a loft of around 50-53 degrees. These are suited to fuller shots, and they typically bridge the distance gap and give you more variety near the green for pitches that don’t have longer chips or a full swing.
- Sand Wedges: These range from 54-58 degrees, and were originally designed to escape from green side bunkers due to the heavier and wider design of its sole. For a very long time this was the go-to club for chips and bunker shots around the green because it was the highest lofted club available, but this was only until the lob wedge came out.
- Lob Wedges: This is the newest in wedge design, and it features a high loft of around 60-64 degrees. This allows golfers to produce optimum height and spin with shots near the green. You utilize this wedge to hit chips, flop shots, and bunker shots rather than full shots.
The loft of your wedge is the angle that is created between the face of the wedge and an imaginary vertical line. The more loft that you have on a wedge the more height on your shot, and this results in a higher ball flight with less distance. You’ll find that many professionals will carry three or four wedges as this offers variation and selection for short games. The best way to choose a set of wedges is to make sure there are no large gaps in loft between your lowest lofted iron and the first wedge. Make sure to keep the loft gaps to about 4 degrees between each of your clubs.
Bounce refers to the area of the club that hits the turf, because this bounces the club through the surface and under the ball when you strike. This is also the group name for the elements in play in sole design. These elements include bounce angle, sole width, leading edge, rocker, and camber of a wedge. When people talk about bounce they’re really talking about bounce angle. The angle is from the leading edge to the point where the sole meets the ground. If you think wedges sit flat on the ground then you are mistaken. Bounce and bounce angle are added to prevent a wedge from digging into sand and turf, as this stops the momentum of the club through the ball.
- Low Bounce Wedges: When a wedge has a bounce angle of 4 to 6 degrees it’s considered to be low-bounce. If you choose a wedge with minimal bounce it will be better suited to those who sweep the ball, will help with a shallower divot, and for firmer turf conditions. They’re also beneficial for heavy, coarse sand in bunkers and bunkers with little sand.
- Mid Bounce Wedges: These feature any length with 7-10 degrees of bounce, and it’s the most versatile option, suited to a wide range of conditions and swing types.
- High Bounce Wedges: A high bounce wedge will have more than 10 degrees of bounce, so the leading edge sits higher when the sole is on the ground. These are best suited for players who dig at impact, for taking deep divots, or for softer conditions and bunkers with deep, fine sand.
The sole grind is basically additional shaping of the sole of the wedge particularly around the heel and toe. Today, there are a variety of sole grinds in addition to the standard wedge sole. These literally have ground soles to better suit particular turf conditions and shots. Take for instance a heel grind, which helps to remove material from the heel of the sole so the face can sit lower to the ground. This makes it easier to open the face at address. The sole grind will change the bounce of the sole, so be sure to get some advice from a teaching professional on the type of grind that best suits your game.
After a wedge has been made it is then given a finish for a distinct look or color. This all comes down to personal preference and taste because these various finishes will have the same feel. Know that these finishes will wear over time, but chrome and nickel will maintain their color longer. Unplanted and raw finishes will wear and rust over time, but this can improve friction and spin. A darker finish will look good initially but the paint will wear off and give some nice wear marks if that suits your tastes.
Almost all wedges come with steel shafts, unless they’re designed to be with a graphite set of clubs. These steel shafted wedges will have a standard wedge flex, and this is similar to a stiff shafted steel shaft in terms of flex. But these are designed for the shorter club. What you get with this is maximum feel and accuracy, and you’ll find that with such a short club, the flex is not nearly as important.
Finding the right golf wedge is more challenging and complicated than it seems, but when you know the basic features available, you’ll have a much easier time making the right choice. When you’re ready to find the right wedge for you, begin by trying to understand your swing, what your handicaps are, and what elements of your swing you’re hoping to enhance. Once you have a good sense of these things, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect wedge. Also, if you already have a wedge but you want to diversify your golf bag, then seek to find a wedge that fills in the gaps and gives you more options.
- Titleist: http://www.goallinegolf.com/
- Cleveland: http://m.clevelandgolf.com/
- Nike: http://store.nike.com/