Golf Wedges Explained: What Average Golfers Need To Know


For most golfers, the most used clubs in the bag are wedges. Everyone spends time and money working on their long game but limited hours on their short game. That said, wedges aren’t all created equal, so this post will help you figure out everything you need to know about picking the right wedge.

If you don’t want to read through everything and just want to know which wedges will suit your game, check out one of our articles below:

If you want to know about all the details like bounce, grind, design, and which clubs you should actually add to the bag, continue reading. Every wedge is slightly different and is designed for different skill levels and course conditions, which is pretty important.

Types Of Wedges

*Clubs in picture are Stix Wedges*

There are five different types of wedges and the main difference between them is the loft. They will all hit the ball different distances, but you can also use them around the green to hit different shots.

You can also customize them to fit your body and swing properly or to perform better on the courses you play at. The bounce and grind of the wedge help with certain course conditions. Anyways, here are the different types of wedges:

Pitching wedge: This is the longest wedge you’d have in the bag and is what you’d normally use for 100-140 yard shots (most people fall in this range). Most pitching wedges will have between 44-46 degrees of loft.

Pretty much all iron sets come with a pitching wedge, so you’ll probably have one already. Not only that, but they’re probably the first or second most important wedge to have.

Gap wedge: This is the third wedge you’d want to add to the bag because there’s usually a big distance gap between your PW and SW. The loft of these wedges is somewhere between 50-52 degrees.

You’d normally use this wedge for shots between 90 and 120 yards. What I like about these wedges is that you can hit lower chips that roll out more than with a sand/lob wedge.

Sand wedge: This is quite possibly the most versatile wedge you’d have in the bag and is the second wedge you should have after the pitching wedge. The loft will range between 54-56 degrees and is normally used for shots between 70-110 yards.

The reason this wedge is super important is that it can also be used for chip shots around the green and from the sand (obvious, I know). You’ll also be able to put more spin on your wedge shots compared to pitching/gap wedges.

Lob wedge: For average golfers, this is the last wedge you should add to the bag. It’s probably the toughest to hit and is mainly used to lob the ball up in the air and land softly.

These wedges will have between 58 and 60 degrees of loft (sometimes more). That said, Hank Haney has said that most golfers shouldn’t use anything with over 58 degrees of loft.

Chipper wedge: If you like hitting bump-and-run chips but struggle with consistency, one of these might be worth checking out. They’re becoming more and more popular over the years, especially with the mid to high-handicap golfers.

They’re basically a lower lofted wedge with a shorter shaft. You take a putter-style stroke and the ball should pop up and roll out. They’re only used for shots within 30-40 yards of the green.

Learn More: To see the full details of each wedge and when you might want to use them, be sure to read our full guide on the 5 different types of golf wedges.

Loft

You’ve probably noticed that wedges come in a bunch of different lofts, anywhere between 48 and 60 degrees. The angle the club face sits on the ground is the degree of loft. The higher the number the more loft it has.

It’s pretty important to pick the right one because loft impacts height, distance, and spin rates. The picture below shows how each wedge is different:

Lob wedges have the most loft, which means they hit the ball higher and shorter. Pitching wedges have the least amount of loft, which means they hit the ball the lowest and longest.

Using a higher lofted wedge will also help you put more spin on the ball to quickly stop it on the green. It also helps that the ball goes higher because it’ll land steeper, and hopefully, stop sooner.

If you need to chip the ball over something, you’ll need loft, which is where the LW or SW comes into play. If you want to hit a lower chip that rolls longer, you’ll need less loft, which is ideal for the GW or PW.

So, that brings us to the question, which wedges should you add to the bag?

In my opinion, it’s going to come down to your skill level and how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to go pro, you probably want 4-5 different wedges. If you’re a complete beginner, you probably only want 1-2.

If you’re a high handicapper (shoot 90+): I wouldn’t waste a bunch of money on clubs because you aren’t good enough to fully utilize them. I’d only recommend having a pitching and sand wedge. For the SW, you can read our 54 vs 56 degree sand wedge guide here.

If you’re a mid handicapper (shoot 80s): You probably have a decent distance gap between your PW and SW, so I’d recommend adding a GW at this point. As for loft, you can read our 50 vs 52 degree gap wedge guide here.

If you’re a low handicapper (shoot 70s): At this point, you’re probably consistent with all your clubs and can hit a lot of different shots. This is when you might want to consider adding a LW to your bag, which can be super useful in certain situations. You can read our 58 vs 60 degree lob wedge article here.

What I was told early on was to focus on a few clubs at a time and become consistent with them. Start with the basic wedges, work on them, and only add clubs when you actually need them.

Learn More: To see more details about how many wedges the average golfer should carry, be sure to check out our full article. It’ll cover what wedges each skill level should use.

Bounce

If you’ve ever looked at a wedge, you’ve probably noticed two different numbers. The first is the loft (48-60) and the second is the bounce number (4-14). This is another important thing to consider.

Bounce is the angle between the ground and the leading edge of your club (below the lowest groove). High bounce wedges have the biggest angle while low bounce wedges have the least. You can see what I mean in the picture below:

High bounce wedge: These wedges have a bounce greater than 10. They’re ideal for hitting off soft turf and fluffy bunkers. Also, if you hit a lot of “fat”shots, more bounce will be more forgiving. I’d recommend you get a high bounce SW.

Mid bounce wedge: These wedges have a bounce between 7 and 10. They’re the most versatile because they can be used on soft and firm courses. I’d recommend you get a mid bounce GW or LW (unless your course is very firm or you need low bounce for something specific).

Low bounce wedge: These wedges have a bounce of less than 6. They’re designed for hitting off firm turf and harder bunkers. They also help with tight lies and are what you’d want to use for hitting high flop shots. Normally, these are recommended for better players.

Sole Grinds

Vokey Wedge Letters & Meanings

The sole of the club is the bottom, where the club comes in contact with the ground. You’re actually able to grind away some of the sole to fully customize the wedge to your swing or course conditions.

It’s pretty much just a way to change the bounce more precisely. Certain grinds are better for firm courses or for golfers who sweep the ball off the ground. Others are better for soft conditions or for people who have a steeper swing.

Most companies just let you pick the loft and bounce of the club. It’s probably all average golfers need to worry about, but companies like Vokey (Titleist) and Callaway let you pick the grind as well. You can tell what grind it is by the letter beside the loft and bounce.

Finishes

The next thing you need to consider is what finish (or color) you want your wedges to be. This doesn’t really impact the performance, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Here are the different finishes you can get on your wedges:

  • Chrome
  • Brushed Steel
  • Black
  • Raw

Chrome and black are pretty self-explanatory. Brushed steel has a brown/gold color to it. Raw looks like chrome, but it’s very different.

Most people play chrome irons and wedges. I’m actually not the biggest fan myself because the sun reflects off of them. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Brushed steel and black are my favorites because you won’t run into this problem as much. The downside to black is that wedges from cheaper brands tend to chip easily. Premium brands like Titleist, Callaway, and Cleveland won’t have this problem.

Raw is the unique option of the four. The reason is that it doesn’t have the final coating on it, which has its pros and cons. You’ll see these wedges in a lot of bags on tour.

The main benefit is that it’s easier to change the bounce and grind. The downside is that they wear faster and will rust (which is supposed to improve spin rates a bit).

Cavity Back vs Blades

Just like with irons, you can have cavity back, muscle back, and blade wedges. It’s pretty much the same, cavity back wedges are the most forgiving while blades are the most controllable.

For most golfers, cavity back and muscle backs will be the way to go. Blades are very unforgiving and are only really used by tour golfers.

The reason better players use blades is that they’re more compact, they feel a bit better, and they’re easier to control the shot shape and height.

What I’d recommend is that your PW is the same as your irons. Most sets come with one and will be your best option. It’ll just be familiar to you and should help with consistency.

If your irons and PW are cavity backs then I’d also recommend your GW be the same. This should add forgiveness when you’re hitting full shots from the fairway. This is what I’m currently using as well.

For your SW and LW, I don’t think it’s as important. You’ll be chipping from around the green so forgiveness isn’t as important.

We have an article that goes into more depth about these wedges, so if you’re curious, you can read our cavity back vs muscle back vs blade article here.

Shafts

Wedge shafts aren’t as important as the shafts in your metals and irons. Wedges are scoring clubs, not distance clubs. What’s more important is control and accuracy.

Most wedges come with steel shafts, but you can still find graphite shafts out there. The main difference is that graphite shafts are lighter, which some people prefer. You can usually customize clubs with graphite shafts if you want them.

A lot of wedges also come with a standard “wedge” flex, which is similar to a stiff shaft. They also tend to be heavier than the shafts in your irons to focus on maximum accuracy.

If you have regular/senior flex irons, you’re fine playing wedge/stiff flex wedges. Some models still come in regular and stiff flex though, but you’ll be fine either way.

Grip

You also have the option to put undersized, standard, midsize, or jumbo grips on your wedges. I just recently switched to midsized grips and I’m liking them a lot.

For most people, standard or midsize is probably the way to go. If you have small hands, standard grips will probably feel the best. If you have bigger hands, a slightly larger grip might be more comfortable.

When I switched to midsize grips, I felt like I didn’t have to grip the club so tightly and was much more relaxed. Being tense or overswinging are two awesome ways to have a lousy short game.

Most people are familiar with standard-size grips, and if that’s the case, I might recommend trying a midsize. Do one club to test it out and see if you actually like it or not.

Best Wedges To Add To Your Bag

Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about wedges, you should be able to go out there and find the right one for you. If you’re still a bit unsure, I’ve got a few recommendations for you.

I think it comes down to what your skill level is. Someone brand new to golf isn’t going to want the same wedges as someone on tour.

If you’re a beginner or high handicap golfer (shoot over 90), you’re probably looking for a forgiving wedge that isn’t going to break the bank. You can see the best wedges for average golfers here.

That article will be updated when I find new wedges that I think would suit most golfers. Some of them are solid wedges for a good price while others are designed for common faults average golfers make (hitting the ground first, etc).

If you’re a mid handciapper (shoot in the 80s), you’re probably willing to spend a bit more for a club that can give you a bit more. You won’t need as much forgiveness and will want something that’s a bit more versatile. You can see the best wedges for mid handicappers here.

I’m a mid handicapper myself and I’ve tested a number of different wedges over the years. You’ll be able to see some of my favorites in that article.

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Jon Webber

Just an average golfer trying to take my game to the next level. Was shooting around 100 not that long ago but have now been in the 80s consistently. Best round to date was 12 over. Best 9 holes were 4 over.

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