Choosing the Right Lofts for Your WedgesPublished on 09/18/2023 · 7 min readThere are a lot of wedges on the market, but how do you know which lofts your game needs? Read this guide to understand the different types of wedges and their lofts.
Photo by Cristina Anna Costello
So often when new customers come to Curated searching for wedges, the first question that we address is the current wedge selection in their bag. The process of picking a wedge is a bit trickier than other parts of the bag. With wedges often being the most versatile clubs that are called on to perform a multitude of shots within striking distance of the green, the manner in which your bag is organized can make all the difference when it comes to your scoring clubs.
The lofts of wedges carry more weight than your typical club. Golfers rely on a variety of wedges for different reasons throughout their rounds. All of these wedges have different lie angles and can perform different types of shots. The most common four types of wedges are a pitching wedge, sand wedge, gap wedge, and lob wedge.
Types of Wedges
The pitching wedge (PW) is often found within the iron set that the player uses, so it is important to have a good understanding of the stock specifications of that club. Despite often matching the irons in appearance, treating the pitching wedge as if it’s another iron will only cause difficulties when trying to decide which wedges to get that complement the bottom portion of the golf bag. The PW is mostly used for approach shots but can be called upon for a longer bump and run if needed to cover a lot of surface area on the green.
The sand wedge (SW) is the second most common wedge to find in a player’s bag, and arguably just about every player uses one. Said to have been invented by American professional goler Gene Sarazen back in the early 1900s, the sand wedge was originally made with a wide sole to create optimum bounce off of the sand in bunkers (sand traps) and make escaping them an easier task for golfers. Today, sand wedges can be every bit as useful in the sand, but come in more varieties and bounce options. Wedge bounce, to avoid confusion, refers to the width of the soles of the wedge, which is the portion of the club that will be making contact with the ground at impact with the ball.
Gap / Approach Wedge
The remaining two wedges are less common, but both still play important roles when it comes to selecting lofts. The gap wedge (GW), also known as the approach wedge (AW), is made to cover the loft range between a pitching wedge (standard PW loft is usually around 47-48 degrees) and a sand wedge (usually around 56-58 degrees). With a 10-degree gap, players are left with a large yardage range that becomes difficult to play. Putting a gap or approach wedge into play can really help avoid having to hit feel-oriented shots into greens instead of taking a full and complete swing with the proper lofted club.
Lob wedges (LW) are the highest in terms of loft (60 degrees and up) and are really made for versatility around the greens. Players who are uncomfortable opening up the face of their sand wedge to hit flop shots and higher, lofted pitch shots can benefit from stocking an extra club in the bag that helps them naturally lift the ball for softer landings on speedy greens.
Not often used for full swings, lob wedges provide an extra option around the green and can be used also out of bunkers depending on the type of bunker shot the player has to hit. Putting a little variety in terms of bounce into the bag between a sand wedge and a lob wedge can also allow players to adjust their short-game approach to the lie, as well as the type of shot they have to hit instead of defaulting to one wedge. Lob wedges are also not a necessity for beginners, as they’re very unforgiving and are more of an advanced club.
Selecting a Wedge
As you’ve most likely noticed, most of these wedges come in a variety of lofts despite still belonging to one of the four categories of wedge classification. So how do golfers come to a decision on which lofts they want to take out on the course?
Start with the Pitching Wedge
The first step is to look into what the pitching-wedge loft is that comes with your iron set. It is worth noting that you can also buy a PW that is not the same build as your irons but looks more like the rest of your wedges. This is recommended if your current PW has a stock loft that causes gaps for your approaches on the course, or if you want a PW with a better feel instead of the forgiveness of an iron build.
Most amateur golfers would benefit from keeping their PW the same as their iron set due to the forgiveness built into irons as well as the greater variety of stock shaft options that come with the club. However, the leading edge of an iron-shaped PW is going to come into impact with less digging than a wedge-shaped PW. The result is more difficulty in trying to hit precise shots off of tight lies, which could lead better players to want a 47-degree wedge that can make better contact out of precarious situations.
Prioritize the Rest
Once you have your pitching wedge sorted out, a good rule of thumb is to try to space your lofts about 4 degrees apart. So, if you have a 48-degree PW, you should then look into a 52-degree gap wedge and a 56-degree sand wedge. Most amateur players do not need a lob wedge due to the difficulty of making clean contact with such an unforgiving and high-lofted club.
Additionally, players being limited to only 14 golf clubs in their bag means that a lob wedge is taking up a slot that could be used for a better utility club, like a longer hybrid, to close existing yardage gaps near the top of the golf bag.
After deciding on how many wedges you have room for in your bag, you should then analyze the bounce options that come with each type of wedge that you need.
Wedges with a larger bounce are going to be easier to open up and use in the sand or out of the rough to cut through sand or grass and make more impact with the ball. Having a smaller bounce on the wedge will help to clip the golf ball off of tight lies around the greens and get under the ball on flop shots. A larger bounce can drag the whole sole of the wedge through impact and having the greater surface area’s momentum slowed by additional friction with the ground at the apex of the downswing.
It is worth noting that wedges do not have to be exactly 4 degrees apart. Using wedges that complement one another is the best practice and some players can hit certain brands of wedges farther than others. If you’re able to put the pedal to the metal on a strong 58-degree wedge to clear 100 yards and find it easier for hitting high-pitch shots with more spin around the green, then a 52-degree wedge would be fine despite being a 6-degree gap.
Player preference really plays a big part in trying to determine what the best spacing is, so your qualms with your current setup really can provide the most insight into what might be the best fit for you.
Don’t Discount the Chipper
Finally, the chipper is deserving of at least an honorary couple of lines. Newer players who struggle with chunking, or taking too much turf, on wedges could benefit from the use of a chipper. The concept is similar to putting: just take a short stroke and the lofted face will help you hit a bump-and-run shot with a much larger clubhead and sole than a traditional wedge. This is a super-specialized club that’s not necessarily needed by most players. However, it is an option if you’re sick of hitting your chip shots fat around the greens.
As always, I and my fellow Curated Golf Experts are here to help you find your inner Phil Mickelson and become a master of your wedge game. Be sure to reach out and we would be happy to help get you set up with an ideally spaced bag that maximizes all of the aspects of the short game and approach game that have been discussed throughout this article!