Golf Wedges: How to Choose

Published on 06/16/2023 · 12 min readDoes the world of wedges have you confused? Golfing Expert Jorge Arteta guides you through how to select the wedges perfect for your game.
Jorge Arteta, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Jorge Arteta

Photo courtesy of TaylorMade

Tl;dr: When buying a wedge golf club, consider the type of wedge (pitching, gap, sand, or lob), loft degree, bounce angle, and grind to match your skill level and playing conditions.

I have been in the golf industry for over ten years and have enjoyed every minute. I have been a teaching pro, mini-tour player, and coach. As a golf teaching professional, I am fortunate to work with many students ages 6-80 and beyond. The first thing I teach is wedge play. In my opinion, if you have good short-game technique, then it can transfer over to a full swing effectively. The wedge swing is a shortened version of a full swing, so it’s important to have the correct wedge in your hands for a proper wedge swing. My favorite part of my game is wedge play. I use various wedges and have always focused on my wedge swing.

I also enjoy club fitting and matching the correct equipment to the golfer’s game. It’s an art and science at the same time, but mostly I like showing the golfer options in equipment that will suit their game.

What Is a Wedge?

Photo courtesy of Callaway

A golf wedge is a specialized club designed for short approach shots, chipping, pitching, and bunker play. It has the highest loft among all club types, ranging from 45-64°, enabling golfers to hit the ball high and achieve precise control. There are four main wedge types: pitching (PW), gap (GW) or approach (AW), sand (SW), and lob (LW), each with a distinct purpose to help players navigate different situations on the course.

What to Consider When Buying a Wedge

What Bounce Angle Suits My Playing Style?

  • Low (4-6°): Ideal for tight lies and firm turf, better for players with a shallow swing.
  • Medium (7-10°): Versatile, suitable for various conditions and swing types.
  • High (10+°): Best for soft conditions and bunkers, preferable for players with a steep swing.

Which Grind Matches My Needs?

Grinds are modifications to the sole, affecting turf interaction and versatility. Different manufacturers offer specific grinds, so test various options to find the best fit. Grinds are usually noted by X, S, C, Y, or other letters to denote the type of grind.

Does the Club Length Suit My Height and Posture?

Standard length is suitable for most players, but custom fitting may be necessary for optimal results, especially for taller or shorter golfers.

How Much Should a Wedge Cost?

Wedge costs vary depending on the brand, material, and technology involved. Prices range from around $50 for basic or used wedges to over $200 for high-end, brand-name models. In addition, factors like the clubhead material, shaft composition, and customization options can impact the cost.

Do You Need More Than One Wedge?

It's common for golfers to carry multiple wedges in their bags to cover various situations on the course. For example, a typical golfer might have a pitching, gap, sand, and lob wedge, each serving a specific purpose. However, the number of wedges you need depends on your skill level, playing style, and personal preferences. Carrying three to four wedges allows for greater versatility in shot-making and helps navigate different course conditions.

Should Wedges Match My Set?

Take under careful consideration whether to buy the wedges that match your iron set or separately. Most iron sets match the pitching wedge with options to match an AW, GW, or SW. The more the iron set matches, the more consistent the golfer will be with the wedges. More advanced players usually opt for wedges different from the iron set because they want as much versatility as possible. I have always matched the PW and GW to my iron set; my SW and LW will usually differ.

What Are the Different Types of Wedges?

Photo courtesy of TaylorMade

There are four main types of golf wedges, each designed for with different lofts for specific situations on the course:

1. Pitching Wedge (PW)

With a loft of 45-50°, the pitching wedge is the most versatile type, commonly used for approach shots and chipping. It allows for a lower trajectory than other wedges, resulting in longer shots and better roll. Normally included in iron sets.

2. Gap Wedge (GW) or Approach Wedge (AW)

With a loft of 50-54°, the gap wedge fills the distance gap between the pitching and sand wedges. It is useful for intermediate-length shots, providing more loft than a pitching wedge but less than a sand wedge.

3. Sand Wedge (SW)

The sand wedge is designed for bunker play and greenside shots with a loft of 54-58°. Its wider sole and higher bounce angle help players navigate soft sand and turf conditions more effectively.

4. Lob Wedge (LW)

With a loft of 58-64°, the lob wedge offers the highest loft among wedge types. It is ideal for short shots requiring height and stopping power, such as shots over obstacles or when needing to land the ball softly on the green with minimal roll. This wedge requires practice to be consistent, if you don’t have time, use a lower loft wedge.

Each wedge type has a unique role in a golfer's bag, and using them effectively can help improve shot-making and lower scores.

Features to Look For in Wedges

When selecting a golf wedge, consider the following features to find the best match for your playing style and needs:

Loft

The loft degree affects the ball's height and distance. Lofts for wedges can go from 45-64° in wedges. Check your gaps and ensure that you have enough of a difference between each wedge to cover a wide range of yardages. Higher lofts produce higher shots with less distance, while lower lofts provide lower shots with more distance. Choose the loft that fills gaps in your current club set.

Bounce Angle

The bounce angle is between the leading edge and the lowest point of the club's sole. Low bounce is suitable for tight lies and firm turf, while high bounce is better for soft conditions and bunkers. Medium bounce offers versatility for various conditions. I suggest higher bounce for beginners, and as you improve, you can look at lower bounce for more crisp shots around the greens. Bounce angles can go from 4° (low) to 16° (high).

Grind

Grinds are modifications to the sole of the wedge, affecting turf interaction and versatility. The most common grinds are S, C, F, and M. Different manufacturers offer specific grinds, so test various options to find the best fit for your swing and playing conditions.

Clubhead Material

Most wedges have clubheads made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or forged materials. Each material offers a distinct feel and performance. Stainless steel is durable and affordable, carbon steel provides a softer feel, and forged materials offer the softest feel and highest control.

Grooves

The grooves on the clubface influence the spin and control of the ball. Sharp, deep grooves generate more spin, while shallow or worn grooves produce less spin. Look for wedges with grooves that suit your skill level and preferences.

Shaft Material and Flex

Choose the appropriate shaft material (steel or graphite) and flex (extra stiff, stiff, regular, senior, or ladies) based on your swing speed, skill level, and personal preferences. Most players like to match their wedge shafts to their irons shafts for consistency, something to be aware of when looking at wedge shafts.

By considering these features, you can select a wedge that will help you achieve better control, accuracy, and performance on the golf course.

Features to Avoid in Wedges

When selecting a golf wedge, it's essential to focus on features that match your skill level, playing style, and preferences. However, some features may not be suitable for every golfer, so consider avoiding the following:

  • Inappropriate Loft: Avoid choosing a wedge with a loft too close to another club in your bag, as it won't fill distance gaps effectively. Stay away from what the pros might use. The average player will usually need a lot more bounce. Try them and ensure you can hit a wedge well for your game.
  • Unsuitable Bounce Angle: Avoid a bounce angle that doesn't match your playing conditions or swing style. For instance, a high-bounce wedge may not be ideal for firm turf or a golfer with a shallow swing.
  • Incorrect Grind: Avoid grinds that aren't compatible with your swing or playing conditions, as they can hinder performance and versatility. If you’re unsure what grind to use, ask a Golfing Expert at Curated. The right grind will make it easier to play.
  • Poor Quality Grooves: Avoid wedges with worn or shallow grooves, as they won't generate sufficient spin and control.
  • Low-Quality Construction: Avoid wedges with poor build quality or materials, as they may not provide the durability, performance, or feel you need on the course.

By avoiding these features, you can ensure that you're selecting a wedge that will help you improve your short game and lower your scores. Always test different wedges and consult with a professional fitter or golf expert to find the best fit for your needs.

How to Choose the Right Wedge for You

Choosing the right wedge for you can be a confusing task. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of wedges, it’s time to consider your own needs and wants. Below are different golfers who I’ve helped on Curated who represent three primary “golf personas” when it comes to shopping for wedges. I’ve highlighted what they should look for based on their golf game and skill level.

Steve

Steve is a new golfer. He is in his thirties and has a full-time job. Steve has played other sports and has good coordination, but he wants to learn golf and play with his friends on the weekends. Steve will take golf lessons and wants the proper equipment, especially for his short game.

Features to look for: Steve should look for a forgiving wedge with extra bounce. He should initially consider looking at two wedges: a gap wedge and a sand wedge. Then, when he improves, he can look at other wedges.

Products to consider:

  • Cleveland CBX Full Face 2: Cavity back design offers maximum forgiveness on full shots and around the green. Large face grooves help maximize spin, and the feel is better than most cavity back designs.
  • Callaway Mack Daddy CB: Maximum forgiveness with a pleasing sound and feel on full shots. Wide sole offers smoothness on turf interaction, making it easier to strike the ball.
  • TaylorMade Milled Grind 3: A more advanced wedge that offers lots of spin. While not as forgiving as others, the proper bounce will allow for a smooth shot through the ball. The feel of this wedge is outstanding.

TaylorMade MG3 wedge

Linda

Linda is a mid-handicap and plays twice a week. She plays in a league and is looking to improve with lessons and more practice. She wants a full set of wedges that are easy to hit and reliable under a variety of course conditions. In addition, Linda wants spin and control when it comes to greenside chips.

Features to look for: Linda should look for three wedges: a gap, sand, and lob wedge. She might want to look at a little less bounce, depending on her swing. She should look for wedges that offer control and forgiveness and still have smooth turf interaction.

Products to consider:

  • Cobra Snakebite: The Snakebite technology in the grooves allows for more spin in wet or dry conditions. A notch in the back allows for a variety of open lie shots around the greens. Available in both satin or black finish, this is a club worth looking into.
  • TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3: The elongated toe design helps bring the center of gravity (CG) closer to the middle of the face for better contact and a controlled trajectory. The milled face and soft carbon steel make this an exceptional wedge with pleasing results.
  • Cleveland RTX Full Face Zipcore: This wedge takes any guessing out by offering only one universal bounce degree with a high spinning shaft. The Zipcore technology repositions weight to offer even more forgiveness, control, and consistent shots. It’s a very easy-to-hit wedge aimed at all skill levels.

Cobra Snakebite wedge

Brett

Brett is a 2 handicap and plays on mini-tours. He practices five days a week, but his biggest challenge is to improve his short game. Brett would like to find wedges that will allow him to just swing without any adjustments or thought, just hit the ball. He will need to try a variety of wedges, and I recommend an outdoor fitting session to make a final decision.

Features to look for: Features for the advanced player, like Brett, will include spin control, turf interaction, and maximized groove technology. In addition, features like a milled face, micro grooves, and the correct grind are what the advanced player need to hit a wide range of shots in all types of course conditions.

Products to consider:

  • Mizuno T-22: Feels like no other wedge. Soft, one-piece grain flow forged allows a confident feel that the ball was hit crisply and on the sweet spot. The T-22 is for the advanced player who demands immediate feedback and spin control.
  • Titleist Vokey SM9: As stated in this article, this wedge is considered the gold standard of wedges. Many options for grinds and bounces are available for all skill levels. The way the grooves are made offers the ultimate in spin control. This is the most popular wedge in the market.
  • Callaway Jaws Raw: This wedge has a stainless steel with a face that will rust over time. The Jaws Raw wedge offers a variety of lofts, grinds, and shafts for the detail-oriented player looking for precision and control.

Titleist Vokey SM9 wedge

Conclusion

Choosing the right wedge for your game will make you a better player and will be one less distraction on the course because you know that you have your perfect equipment in your bag. Wedge play is important to a good short game, allowing you to make various shots in all course conditions. There are many options, so get in touch with me or one of my fellow Golfing Experts here on Curated for help with finding the right wedge for your game. Once it’s in the golf bag, go out and play and have fun!

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