With Augusta National and the Masters just a few weeks away, viewers will be treated to coverage of one of the more beautiful golf courses in the world. One of the most distinctive features of Augusta National is the course’s very undulated and speedy greens – something that difficult to pick up on TV but is very evident as you walk the fairways.
The greens at Augusta can roll in the range of 13 on the Stimpmeter – a device that measures green speed. With so much undulation and speed in the greens, players need to hit high soft approach shots to prevent too much roll.
A standard sand wedge carries a loft of 56 degrees, which for most players is more than enough to hit high, soft approach shots. Some golfers choose to put a lob wedge – or 60-degree wedge – in their bags, which allows them to hit an even higher and softer approach shots. These days players are using even higher lofted wedges, as just about every club manufacturer makes a wedge that is between 61-64 degrees. Feel Golf even has a 73-degree wedge it calls the “Dart Thrower.”
The rationale behind these clubs is the belief that it will make it easier for golfers to hit high soft shots. However, just because a tour professional, who hits thousands of golf balls daily, uses a particular club does not mean that it is designed or meant for the average golfer.
One of the more vocal proponents of high-lofted wedges is noted short-game instructor Dave Pelz (Phil Mickelson is his most famous pupil) who accurately states that most golf shots occur between 100 yards and closer to the green. However, Pelz’s method can be very scientific and mechanical and for some might negate some feel which is essential for a good short game.
I believe that the average golfer should carry a minimum of two and a maximum of three wedges – a pitching wedge, sand wedge and if necessary a 60-degree lob wedge. For a vast majority of golfers, the extra-lofted wedges have too much loft. Most come with a very low bounces that make it very difficult to consistently hit good shots because of their steep angles of attack.
It makes more sense for the average golfer to learn how to manipulate a traditional sand wedge, which can be used to hit a wider variety of shots, in essence making the extra high lofted wedges unnecessary.