The standard for most golfers is to have a full set of irons and then add a sand wedge and a 60-degree wedge. I once heard Hank Haney say that the average golfer shouldn’t use a lob wedge, so I decided to ask a few golf coaches in my area and also run my own experiment.
As a general rule, average golfers will have an easier time hitting a 56-degree wedge compared to a 60-degree wedge. A 56-degree wedge will give just as much distance but it will also be a lot more consistent when you’re chipping onto the green.
For the longest time, I had both wedges in my bag and pretty much only used my 56-degree when I was in the sand. I wanted to downsize my bag and really focus on improving consistency with a few clubs, and that led me to remove the 60-degree altogether.
Should You Get A 56 Or 60 Degree Wedge
For the average golfer, having a 56-degree wedge in your bag will be much more beneficial than having a 60-degree wedge. Sand wedges (56-58 degrees) are the most versatile wedge you can have while lob wedges (60+ degrees) should only be used by better golfers.
I don’t know about you, but when I had a full set of clubs, I found myself almost always hitting the same clubs. I used my sand wedge from the fairway and in the sand. I used my lob wedge when I had a short chip into the green.
I read an article once that said most people have too many clubs in their bags. Pros can tell the difference between a few degrees or the bounce of the club. The majority of us can’t.
That’s why I decided to take a few clubs out of my bag when I got my new clubs (plus, it was cheaper). I really haven’t missed having the extra clubs, especially the 60-degree wedge.
I saw a quote from Hank Haney once that said the average golfer shouldn’t use anything higher than 58 degrees. If you don’t know, a 58-degree wedge is considered a sand wedge.
Hank is basically saying that most golfers don’t need a lob wedge in their bag. I asked a few golf coaches in my area as well and most of them agreed with Hank.
The main reason is that it’s harder to control your distances. Since there’s so much loft, the ball only makes contact with a small section of the club. That means the predictability of the club really isn’t that good.
For me, it was completely fine for short little chips, but my distances were all over the place when I was hitting from the fairway. The distance between my shortest and longest shot was a lot higher than any of my other wedges.
I didn’t really notice this until I actually tested them out on the course. We’ll get into the results next, but long story short, my 56-degree wedge was just as good on shorter chips but it was much better on full shots from the fairway.
56 vs 60 Degree: Full Shot
The first test I wanted to do what compare how the two clubs performed from the fairway. These were shots that required a 3/4 or full swing. I know most people don’t take a full swing with their wedges, but it’s a good thing to know.
What I decided to do what take 10 shots with each club and record the distances. This would basically tell me what club was more consistent when it came to distance control.
For your wedges, distance really doesn’t matter that much. They’re scoring clubs, and being able to hit the ball consistently is super important.
Some of the shots were a little chunky while others were thin. That happens a lot to the average player, so again, these numbers are good to know, in my opinion. Let’s start with the 56-degree:
|56 Degree Shot #||Shot Distance (yards)|
As you can see, the distance between the longest and shortest chip was 25 yards. I thought I’d hit a few more fat/thin shots, but it was actually pretty good. Now let’s look at the numbers for the 60-degree:
|60 Degree Shot #||Shot Distance (yards)|
The distance between the shortest and longest shot was 35 yards. This was 10 yards longer than my 56-degree wedge. All this means is that my distances were more consistent with my sand wedge.
With my 60-degree, I hit a few more fat/thin shots and that’s why the yardage spread was wider. That’s one thing I really noticed right away. The margin for error was so much smaller with the lob wedge.
The average shot distance for my sand wedge was 84 yards while the average for my lob wedge was 78 yards. It’s a small difference, but the added consistency is what made me lean towards the 56-degree.
56 vs 60 Degree: Chip Shot
The next thing I wanted to look at was which club was better for short chips onto the green. I placed a few balls on the fairway, a few in the rough, and a few that needed to fly over a bunker.
I think this is where a lot of people struggle and is where they lose a lot of strokes. I see so many people not commit to the chip and end up hitting inches behind the ball. I also see people worried about this and end up drilling the ball 10 yards off the green.
Part of the reason could be skill, part of it could be mindset, but I also think that part of it is club selection. Loft and bounce play a role in the game, but we’ll talk more about that later.
I chipped the ball 9 times with each club and recorded how far the ball ended up from the pin. Here are the numbers for my 56-degree:
|56 Degree Shot #||Distance From Pin (feet)|
|Average Distance||6 Feet|
The average distance from the pin was right around 6 feet. That’s exactly what I’m aiming for when I’m chipping or have a long putt. The first three were from the fairway, the next three were from the rough, and the last three were over a bunker.
The numbers were pretty consistent overall (for me) and I only had one shot that was a bit thin. Now let’s look at the numbers for my 60-degree:
|60 Degree Shot #||Distance From Pin (feet)|
|Average Distance||7 Feet|
The average distance from the pin with my 60-degree was right around 7 feet. The numbers are really close compared to my sand wedge, but there were a few noticeable differences.
I found that the 60-degree was quite solid when it came to hitting over the bunker. It’s always been a strong part of my game and was after I had already hit my sand wedge.
It performed pretty well from the fairway, but it did struggle from the rough. I hit quite a few more fat/thin shots, and that’s what the coaches said would happen.
Sand wedges normally have more bounce than any other wedge, which stops them from digging too far into the ground. I feel more confident and willing to take a committed swing because I don’t have to worry as much about taking a big divot behind the ball.
Do You Need A 56 And 60 Degree Wedge
For the average golfer, having both a 56-degree sand wedge and a 60-degree lob wedge is completely unnecessary. A 56 or 58-degree wedge should be a lot more versatile for most and is the highest wedge loft that should be in most bags.
As I said before, I used to have both wedges in my bag. My sand wedge was used for longer shots and in the sand. My lob wedge was used anytime I was close to the green.
After doing the test that I did, there’s really no benefit to me having a lob wedge. My sand wedge was better for full shots, works well in the sand, and performed slightly better for chip shots. I know that each of them has its place, but for me, it wasn’t worth it.
That being said, a 56-degree wedge might not be the right choice for you. You can also get a 58-degree sand wedge, and that might be a better choice.
What you’ll need to do is figure out the loft of your other wedges (pitching wedge, gap wedge, etc). You’ll then want to evenly space out your wedge lofts. Here are a couple of scenarios:
- 44-degree pitching wedge.
- 50-degree gap wedge.
- 56-degree sand wedge.
- 46-degree pitching wedge.
- 52-degree gap wedge.
- 58-degree sand wedge.
Having one of these setups will be enough for 90% of golfers out there. As you get better you can add another one to your bag, but for now, you probably don’t need it (especially a lob wedge).
When To Use A 56 Degree Wedge
A 56-degree sand wedge is suited for hitting out of the sand or for a golfer who hits behind the golf ball a lot. The higher degree of bounce helps the club glide through the sand or dirt, which makes it the most versatile wedge in the bag.
Sand wedges are one of the most used golf clubs in the bag and are why all golfers should have one. If I could only have three clubs (other than a putter) I’d have a driver, 7 iron, and a sand wedge.
The reason it’s called a sand wedge is that the sole of the wedge has a higher bounce than most. This helps the club glide through the sand and not dig in as much. This is also why it’s a good club for people who hit behind the ball (yes, I know you’ve done it).
I’ve found that a sand wedge is the better choice when it comes to hitting from the fairway. You wouldn’t really take a full swing with one, but it should be the go-to club within about 50 yards.
The higher bounce won’t dig into the dirt as much and that’ll help you stay committed to the shot. The same goes for when you’re hitting out of the sand.
Sure, you can get a lob wedge with a higher bounce, but we talked before about the low margin for error with a lob wedge. You’ll be able to get more club on the ball with a sand wedge, and that should improve consistency.
When To Use A 60 Degree Wedge
A 60-degree lob wedge is suited for better golfers and is perfect for launching the ball high in the air and having it land softly on the green. This wedge is ideal for hitting shorter chip shots but should not be the choice for full shots from the fairway.
As you start getting better it might be time to add another wedge to your bag. Lob wedges do have their time and place, but it’s not a 100% needed club.
There are two situations where a 60-degree wedge comes in handy. The first is when you need to hit a high shot and have the ball land quickly on the green.
Maybe you need to hit the ball over a bunker or tree. Maybe you don’t have much green to work with and you need to softly land the ball.
That extra 4 degrees of loft can make all the difference to better players. It won’t for me, but if you want to hit that special shot, it sure could help.
The second situation this wedge could work well is if you’re hitting out of a tough lie. The ball could be buried in the rough or sitting on hard compact ground.
Having a high lofted wedge with a lower bounce could really help dig the ball out and get it to where you need it to go. Just remember, this is better player stuff and should be used with caution.
Lob wedges are anything 60 degrees and above. You’ve probably heard of Phil Mickelson using a 64-degree wedge, but if you absolutely must have this club, stick to 60 degrees and don’t be a hero.
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