A golfers wedge is commonly known as their specialty club, used for challenging, short, and other various shots onto the green. In recent years golf wedges have undergone transformations thanks to new technology. The USGA recently ruled that wedge grooves played on the field must be straight and parallel as opposed to the traditional sharp edges. With new technology and designs in lofts and shapes, players carry as many as four or more wedges in their bag, prepared for every type of situation. A high loft or angle is what distinguishes a wedge from other golf clubs. Bounce describes the angle from the edge of the sole to the ground. It is the attribute that will help the golf ball glide through sand or rough. A high bounce angle is ideal for sand or elevated grass. A lower bounce angle is ideal for on a links course where the ground is firmer. Generally characterized, a wedge will be between 45-60 degrees with a weighted sole to help penetrate everything from sand to grass. The four most common types of wedges are the: pitching, sand, gap and lob.
Pitching Wedge: The pitching wedge is used for longer wedge shots of about 125 yards or so. Generally this wedge has a 45-49 degree loft and used for these longer approach shots.
Sand Wedge: As it’s name suggests the sand wedge is generally used to hit the ball out of the sand. It’s also used for those closer shots that require significant height. The sand wedge is the most unique clubhead out of all the wedges. This wedge is designed with more sole width, which reduces the risk of digging in. Generally found with a loft of 56 degrees.
Gap Wedge: The gap wedge finds itself in a golfers bag between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Typically this club is used for shots from 100 yards and comes in 50-54 degree lofts.
Lob Wedge: This wedge is used for obstacle shots onto the green. Often used when golfers need to get into the air quickly and land softly. The higher the loft, the higher the ball will go in the air, but the less distance it will cover. This loft height allows ample vertical distance during chip and pitch shots. Routinely used as a short game club to assist any golfer in the deep rough or sand. Lob wedges carry a 60 degree loft.
Choosing the right wedge a golfer needs look at their personal skills and determine what their missing in their game and try to fill those gaps accordingly. The right wedge can quickly become a golfers favorite, providing them the confidence and skill to get out of those bunkers. Adding wedges to a golf set gives players choices for a variety of situations. Choosing the right finish can be based on personal preference. Typically offered in finishes such as satin, polished chrome, black nickel, or oil.
Conforming Grooves Explained:
Curious how long you will be able to play with those old grooves or why you aren’t able to play with them anymore?
The USGA ruled that grooves on wedges needed to be straight and parallel. Wedges with sharp edged grooves will eventually be phased out. The rule is put into place so that backspin isn’t taking over a player’s game. Professionals in particular were creating too much backspin on wedge shots. By reducing the magnitude and the sharpness of the edges backspin on shots can be reduces.
Dates To Remember:
- January 1, 2010 PGA Tour and all other top-level Tour players must use new conforming grooves.
- January 1, 2011 All wedges manufactured have to conform to the new groove rules.
- January 1, 2014 Player using conforming grooves extends to lower tiers of professional tour and elite amateur events.
- January 1, 2024 Officially time to retire those old wedges. New regulations apply to all golfers.