When golfers get within 125 yards of the green, they’ll likely consider reaching for a wedge. Golfers have a variety of different wedges to choose from, and each wedge has a different advantage depending on the shot required. Understanding the different aspects of each wedge will help golfers hit the ball closer to the pin and lower their scores.
A variety of different wedges exist to help golfers on the course. The most common is the pitching wedge, which is sold with nearly all standard golf club sets. Golfers can hit the pitching wedge the farthest because it is the least lofted wedge. The sand wedge features a rounded sole to help the club “bounce” through the sand. The gap wedge bridges the distance difference between the sand wedge and pitching wedge, while also being a good option for chipping around the green. Finally, the lob wedge is the most lofted of the wedges and is best when needing to hit the ball high and stop it quickly.
As golf has evolved, so too has the selection of wedges available. Pitching wedges were the first to be used, with sand wedges following in 1931. Legendary golfer Gene Sarazen invented the sand wedge, taking a pitching wedge and giving it more loft and bounce to help get through the sand. Short-game teacher Dave Pelz is credited with conceiving the first lob wedge, with the first mass-market lob wedge created by Ping founder Karsten Solheim. Gap wedges became more popular in the 1960s and 1970s as golfers added more loft to pitching wedges.
The club heads on wedges resemble irons, but they have more bounce, which is created by the angle of the metal on the sole of the club. Bounce should be tailored to the course's conditions. So if hitting from short grass, a golfer would want less bounce--using a pitching wedge as opposed to a sand wedge. Wedge lofts generally fall between 46 and 62 degrees depending on the wedge. Each club maker designs wedges differently, with most choosing a softer metal for the club head. This allows golfers to have more touch around the greens.
When used with a full swing, a wedge will cause the ball to fly higher in the air than other clubs and will usually set the ball down quickly on the green with little forward spin. When used to chip the ball, wedges can be used to stop the ball quickly or roll the ball to the hole with topspin.
Because sand wedges and lob wedges have more bounce than pitching wedges or gap wedges, the clubs can be difficult to get under the ball for novice golfers, which causes skulled shots.