Wedges are lofted irons used by golfers within about 100 yards of the green. Modern-day golfers have a variety of wedges to choose from based upon the distance and type of shot required. Commonly used wedges include the pitching wedge, sand wedge, gap wedge and lob wedge. Each club offers different strengths, and understanding the differences in each wedge will help golfers make good decisions and lower scores.
Wedges are clubs with high lofts, which allows golfers to hit the ball high in the air and land it quickly on the green. Because wedges are lofted, the clubs are normally used within about 125 yards of the hole. The exact loft of golf wedges depends upon the club’s manufacturer. In general, pitching wedges are lofted about 47 to 53 degrees, gap wedges are lofted about 50 to 54 degrees, sand wedges are lofted 54 to 58 degrees and lob wedges are lofted 58 to 62 degrees. The lower the degree of loft, the farther the ball will fly, though a more lofted club will land more softly on the green.
Bounce is the characteristic of a wedge that ensures that it “bounces” through the grass or sand without digging in when the ball is hit. It is measured by the angle formed by the leading edge of the club and the ground. Sand wedges have a rounded club face and the most amount of bounce so they can easily move through the sand on a shot, while a pitching wedge might get stuck in the sand. Inexperienced golfers should consider using wedges with more bounce when hitting from the rough. This allows the golf ball to get airborne quickly.
Pitching wedges are the most common wedges, sold with most golf sets. The sand wedge was invented by Gene Sarazen in 1931 and quickly became a staple club in professional golfers’ bags. More recently, golfers have begun using gap wedges and lob wedges. Lob wedges are the most lofted wedge and are used when golfers need to hit the ball high and stop it quickly. Gap wedges are relatively new, and were designed to bridge the distance difference between a sand wedge and pitching wedge. Gap wedges can also be used to chip around the green like a pitching wedge. Both gap wedges and lob wedges are generally sold separately from golf sets.