When golfers are within 100 yards of the green, they’ll likely pull a wedge from their golf bag. But which wedge the golfer grabs depends on the lie of the shot and the distance to the hole. To account for the variety of shots, golfers have several wedge options to help keep their scores low.
The pitching wedge is most commonly used. Lofted to between 44 and 50 degrees depending on the clubmaker, the pitching wedge is used on shots from the fairway and chips shots around the green. Its strong loft will fly the ball the farthest of all the wedges, but generally sets the ball down with little spin. Nearly all club sets will include a pitching wedge, though they are available separately as well.
Sand wedges are most likely to be used from sand traps. Usually lofted between 55 and 59 degrees, the sand wedge also features a rounded bottom that allows it to “bounce” in the sand, rather than dig in. Sand wedges can also be used in the grass, but should be used carefully from the fairway because the rounded club head increase the likelihood of bladed shots. Some clubs sets include sand wedges, but they most likely must be purchased separately.
The gap wedge is a relatively new addition to golfers’ bags, meant to bridge the distance gap between a pitching wedge and sand wedge. Gap wedges are usually lofted between 51 and 54 degrees and must be purchased separately from a standard set of clubs. The club is meant to fly the ball less than a pitching wedge and more than a sand wedge. A gap wedge also is used to chip from the rough when more loft is required. Golfers considering a gap wedge should find the degree of loft on their pitching and sand wedges to ensure they use the correct gap wedge.
A lob wedge is a golfer’s best choice for a delicate shot. Lob wedges are usually lofted between 60 and 64 degrees, and are best utilized when golfers have to chip over a bunker or water hazard and set the ball quickly. The club’s increased loft also allows golfers to take a full swing without hitting the ball long distances. However, the club can be troublesome for some new golfers because a full swing with a lob wedge requires touch and increases the possibility of skulled shots.