Included in just about every set of store-bought golf clubs is a pitching wedge. It's the most common type of wedge and one that almost all golfers have in their bag. But the three other types of wedges--gap, lob and sand--give the golfers who use them even more options in their short games. Each type of wedge is designed differently and used to play different shots.
Of all the wedge types, pitching wedges have the least amount of loft. Generally, such wedges have from 44 degrees to 50 degrees of loft. Golfers can get the club under the ball easily with a pitching wedge, but because of its loft, the ball also will travel some distance. The average pitching wedge shot is between 110 yards and 140 yards. As a result, it is a good club for an approach shot from the fairway or rough.
Gap wedges were created to fill a gap in the loft of wedges. As a result, they have more loft than a pitching wedge and less loft than lob and sand wedges. Gap wedges with lofts between 46 degrees and 54 degrees are most common. With a firm swing, gap wedge shots travel between 90 yards and 110 yards. As a result, they are useful when the shot is too short for a pitching wedge but too long for a sand wedge. Check the loft of a gap wedge; it should have a loft higher than your pitching wedge and lower than your sand wedge.
Given their name, many golfers automatically think of sand traps and bunkers when they think of sand wedges. While these wedges, which have between 54 degrees and 58 degrees of loft, are good for hitting out of the sand, they can be used anywhere. The maximum distance for a sand wedge shot is about 90 yards. As a result, they can be used for an approach shot onto the green or also for a short chip onto the green.
Lob wedges are especially good for getting the ball into the air quickly. Since they have between 60 degrees and 65 degrees of loft, the maximum distance for a lob wedge is about 70 yards. They're good for short chips around the green and short approach shots, but can be effective anytime you must hit a shot that flies into the air quickly.
The short game in golf is all about finesse and feel. Thus, it's important that the wedge you're using is comfortable and easy to use. Before purchasing a wedge, you should at least hold it in your hand and take a few practice swings. Even better, hit a few balls with it. Some wedges are lighter or heavier, so it's important to know what works best for you. Additionally, wedges have various degrees of flex, which can affect how you hit the ball. It's important to take your time and try several wedges before deciding on one.