Wedging your way to low scores: Your Complete Guide to Wedges

Set up for success inside 100 yards.

Introduction.

How many times have you heard that the key to lower scores is getting up and down inside 100 yards? How many times do you see a club golfer’s bag full of wood and hybrid head covers, with a single lone sand wedge lurking in the background? With the vast range of wedges on the market, your custom fitting options and everything in between, it’s easy to become confused and blinded by technology. Want to lower your average round by 5+ shots? You’re in the right place – let’s get you wedging your way to lower scores.

Lofts.

The key difference between wedges and irons, is that the number of an iron (4, 6, 9 etc.) is replaced by the loft on the wedge. Wedge lofts start from as strong as 46 degrees, with some manufactures, such as Ben Hogan, making even stronger wedges. We recommend having two to three wedges in ADDITION to your pitching wedge, with no more than a difference of four to six degrees of loft.

How we do you know which lofts you need? Start with the loft of your pitching wedge which can usually be found online. Let’s say your pitching wedge is 46 degrees – for a four-wedge set up, we’d recommend having 50, 54 and 58 degree wedges to compliment your pitching wedge loft and give you tight, consistent yardage gapping. Not got enough room in the back for three more wedges? No problem. Alternatively, 52 and 58 degree wedges should serve you just fine, but be prepared to ‘manufacture’ some approach shots. Practice full, three quarter and half shots on the range to really dial in your distances.

In recent years, some die-hard short game enthusiasts have even replaced their pitching wedge for a 46 or 48 degree wedge specific to the rest of their wedges, to emphasise a consistent feel and yardage gap. We don’t feel this is always necessary – but we do understand the benefits. Try it for yourself – feel is key here, what feels best will perform best.

Bounce.

Ah yes – the one subject which baffles the minds of 99% of amateur golfers; the bounce! You may have noticed manufactures putting another number on the sole of their clubs, or if you’re Cleveland Golf, just adding one or two small dots and hoping for the best – who doesn’t love an optimist?

Bounce is the angle between the club’s sole, otherwise referred to as the leading-edge, and the ground during setup. In addition, wedges typically have much heavier soles than the other clubs, this is to allow better turf interaction, giving you the best chance for clean, consistent contact despite the lie you face. Manufactures realise that wedges are most likely to see the widest range of turf and lie variations, it’s not often you’re rewarded for missing a green by 30 yards left, is it?

So, in short, low-bounce (anything less than 8*) clubs are better for tight lies from the fairway and hard, dry ground; high-bounce (12*+) clubs work best from soft lies, thick rough and sand.

Simple right? If the ground is soft I need a high bounce wedge, if it’s bone dry, I’ll grab a low bounce wedge! Not quite. Firstly, how many wedges do you think you’re going to have in the bag? Refer to the previous sub header. And secondly, if you’re lucky enough to experience the English weather, how do you handle such extreme weather variations? There’s another aspect to consider – angle of attack, sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? We’ll keep this short and sweet, as this is where getting fitted is key. If you have a steep angle of attack, we’d recommend a higher degree of bounce – if you have a shallow angle of attack, we’d recommend a lower degree of bounce. Use this as a rule of thumb, but get fitted to know for sure.

Grinds.

Another subject that is increasing in popularity in the marketing departments of golf club manufactures. Titleist originally started the trend, with Ping, Taylormade and Callaway following closely. Each manufacture has a different system, and we’re hoping to write a blog, not a novel – so let’s keep this simple and use Titleist as a reference point. The Vokey wedges offer six different grinds – F, M, S, D, K and L.

  • The F grind is an all-purpose grind that is particularly suited for full shots and shots hit with a square face. Ideal for players who prefer a traditional wedge sole.
  • The M Grind, Vokey’s favourite, is designed for players that like to rotate the club face open and closed to manufacture shots around the green.
  • The S Grind is best for neutral to firm conditions and for players that like to control loft with their hands ahead or behind the ball.
  • The D grind blends versatility from a heel, toe, and trailing edge grind and forgiveness with its high measured bounce.
  • The K Grind is the highest bounce wedge in the line-up, and is the ultimate bunker club.
  • The L Grind is the lowest bounce grind option in the mix. The heel, toe, and trailing edge relief allow for maximum green-side versatility.

We could go on forever about the different ways to utilise varying grind options and effective combinations to give you the widest range of shots, but will you benefit massively from the additional 1500+ words of reading? I think not. As always, use this brief introduction as a starting point for choosing several options to try with your local qualified fitter – he/she will point you in the correct direction based on launch monitor numbers.

Lie Angles.

Lie angles are a much easier, simple topic to address. Assuming you’ve been fitted for your irons, as a general rule of thumb, your wedges need to be 1* flatter in their lie. With the clubs being shorter, your hands lie closer to the ground at address and you’re more likely to open and close the face of the club, therefore the lie angle needs to be adjusted to give you a consistent address position. If you’re like me, I’d genuinely be able to notice if my lie angle wasn’t correct. In my bag, my irons are standard lie angle, my 50-degree wedge is 1 degree flat and my 54 and 58 degree wedges are 2 degrees flat – this may not work for you, but this gives me the best opportunity for a consistent look and feel at address. The fact I’m shorter than your average male may also have something to do with it, but I often leave this fact out to protect my ego!

Shafts.

Similar to lie angles, the key to finding the right shaft is to get fitted. In my days as a qualified club fitter, I’d always recommend matching your iron shafts to your wedge shafts. Using technology such as Mizuno DNA as a starting point is key to give you a few options to start with and then dial in the best option using a launch monitor – preferably TrackMan. In the rare case that you have a particularly high swing speed and need X-stiff 130-gram iron shafts, I usually recommend going with a slightly lighter, softer version of the same shaft in your wedges. Similar to lie angles, you’re more likely to want to hit half and three-quarter shots into greens so the shaft needs to be adapted to meet your needs – the softer shafts gives you that little bit more feel. For Example, if you have Project-X 6.5 iron shafts, I recommend you consider Project-X 6.0 wedge shafts, particularly in your sand and lob wedge. Again, use this as a starting point – each golfer is different and feel is key inside 100 yards.

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