It’s wise to know your wedges

Phil Mickelson gets his choice of wedges

A typical round of golf for most amateurs consists of 90-100 shots over 18 holes. A large majority of those shots are taken from 100 yards and closer to the green.

Picking the right wedges, therefore, is a critical.  As technology has improved and the number of choices has grown, however, the decision process has become more complicated. This paradox of choice has led to paralysis for some golfers, as they do not know what wedges are appropriate for their games.

Wedges typically come with various lofts, ranging from 48 to 64 degrees. These options are designed to give a player more options of shot choice when playing golf. The standard sand wedge has a loft of 56 degrees. Many golfers also now carry a lob wedge for higher lofted and shorter shots. These clubs come with a standard loft of 60 degrees. However, for most golfers this discrepancy between lofts creates a distance gap, which has been filled by what is known as a “gap” wedge.

In the past few years, golf club manufacturers have added another dimension to the decision making process with regards to wedges – they offer options on sole grinds and different bounces. The bounce of a golf club is the measurement in degrees of the angle from the front edge of the golf club sole to its lowest point, which rests on the ground at address. Considering that many amateur golfers do not have the knowledge, time and perhaps skill to fully grasp the importance of bounce it goes unnoticed.

Once again, the addition of this information may lead to a paradox of choice. As a golf professional and teacher, I believe that it is very important for golfers to find a wedge that is the most versatile. Unlike PGA Tour professionals such as Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, who have the ability to change wedges each round they play depending upon the course conditions, the general public does not, therefore it is recommended that they choose a wedge that they have the capability of playing as many shots with as possible. This will alleviate the potential decision about lofts and bounce that needs to be adjusted based on the type of shot the golfer is attempting play.

Additionally, course conditions on the fairways and bunkers can change from course to course, day to day. This requires the golfer to have different wedges with different bounce angles. For example, on hard or tight lies it is recommended that the golf club have less bounce, which allows the club to dig through the turf or bunker easier, consequently, a club with higher bounce will not be able to dig in those conditions perhaps causing the golfer to hit the ball thin. The opposite is recommended for conditions that are soft; more bounce is needed so the club does dig too much.

Whether a golfer chooses a wedge with low bounce angles of 6-8 degrees, or medium angles of 10-12, or higher is a personal choice. My choice is to have a club with more bounce, between 12-14 degrees. This allows me to play many different types of shots around the greens, and I am always looking for the most versatile clubs possible.

3 Responses to “It’s wise to know your wedges”

  1. Anonymous

    Hey Brian, Great post. The problem that I have with those high degree wedges is that I hit them much more inconsistently than my go to wedge. What do you think makes it easier to make my lob wedge a sure thing to hit when I take it out of my bag?

    • Briansommer


      Great question. Based upon your post, I would answer it with one word “Confidence”. You state that your lob wedge is your go to wedge. Personally, I do not feel as comfortable using my lob wedge in certain turf/sand conditions because the club digs too much. I much prefer a 56 with more bounce. Therefore, I defer to the club that I am more comfortable with, it is interesting how we get in our own way from performing at our best.

      These results could also be a product of the angle of attack the club approaches the ball. Typically those who swing the club more steeply will need more bounce to help negate the digging of the club, and the opposite for those who swing the club on a shallower angle of attack.

      Lastly, it could be a product of how you set up to the ball. Very often golfers set-up to the ball with the leading edge on the ground, this also promotes a digging action. I play most wedge shots with the club soled, the leading edge is slightly off the ground, this helps me brush the grass and catch the ball cleaner, preventing the digging.

      Hope this helps.

      • Anonymous

        Hey Brian,

        Sorry if I mispoke. My go to club is my regular wedge. But I can see how the tip of setting up with the club soled could really help me with my lob wedge and allow the bounce to properly do it’s job.


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