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Everyone knows that their short game could be better but very few actually take the time to practice enough. Not only do most people have the wrong wedge strategy, but they also carry the wrong wedges in their bags.
The average golfer should carry 2-3 wedges in their bag, and it will all depend on your skill level. Beginners and high handicappers should only carry a pitching and sand wedge while mid handicappers should consider adding a gap wedge.
The loft you decide to get will depend on the loft of your current clubs, but we’ll get into that in a second. You really don’t need 4 or 5 different wedges to shoot good scores. Have a few of them, practice with them, and you’ll get really consistent.
The Most Important Wedge In Golf
The most important, and first wedge you should add to the bag is a pitching wedge. The reason is because of the versatility, with it being good from the fairway and also from beside the green. The good news is that most iron sets already come with one.
It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you should have a pitching wedge in your bag. There are a few times when it’s not going to be ideal, but essentially, you could use it as your one and only wedge (if you practiced enough).
The first reason a PW is the most important is that it’s one of the most consistent clubs from the fairway and is also one of the most used irons. If you asked 10 golfers what their favorite club is from the fairway, 9/10 of them would say 7 iron or PW.
I’m sure you know that shorter irons are easier to hit than long irons. The reason is the shorter shaft and increased loft. These two things help you control the ball and are more consistent.
My favorite club to hit from the fairway is my PW. I will hit it between 140-145 yards, so I always aim for the 150-yard marker and try to be right in front of it. I feel super confident hitting my PW into the green.
Once you get into the shorter wedges, I notice a lot of high handicappers struggling with fat or thin shots (hit the top of the ball or the ground behind the ball). I don’t see this as often with the PW.
The second reason a PW is important is that you can also use it for chipping around the green. The classic bump and run is one of the least used but most effective strategies on the course.
Everyone wants to hit the high-flop shot that lands close to the flag and stops quickly. Unfortunately, most people can’t do that. Hitting a low chip that lands on the green and rolls out to the flag is a much better approach.
A PW is a good option for hitting this shot.
That said, there are a few situations where a PW won’t be ideal. Here are two of them:
- Hitting out of a bunker
- Chipping over an obstacle
You might be able to make it works sometimes, but it’s going to be hard for most golfers. The reason is that there just isn’t enough loft on a PW to get the ball in the air.
This is why you’ll want to add a second (or third) wedge to your bag. It’ll depend on what your skill level is, which is what we’ll cover in the next section.
How Many Wedges High Handicappers Should Carry?
Beginners and high handicappers should carry two wedges in their bag, a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. This two-wedge setup will allow you to hit shots from the fairway, chip the ball around the green, and get the ball out of bunkers.
We just talked about how the pitching wedge is the first wedge all golfers should add to their bags. We also mentioned some situations where a PW wouldn’t be ideal.
A sand wedge will be used in those situations and is why it’s the second wedge you’d want to add. If you’re curious about the loft, you can read our 54 vs 56 degree sand wedge article here.
You really don’t need to have four different wedges when you’re shooting over 90. You aren’t good enough to fully benefit from additional wedges. Stick with the two basic wedges, become consistent with them, and work to break 90.
More clubs just mean you’ll need more practice to learn how to hit them. Not only that, but more clubs also equals more money spent. I like saving cash when I can, and I’m sure you’re the same.
The two-wedge setup is what I had more the longest time. I didn’t add a third wedge until I was shooting consistently in the 80s. I really don’t think it’s worth it until then.
Here was my strategy when I was hitting shots from the fairway:
- 140 yards out: Full PW
- 130 yards out: 3/4 PW
- 120 yards out: 1/2 PW
- Under 110 yards: SW
This setup isn’t ideal as you get better but it helped me learn a lot. It showed me how to play different shots and how to control my wedges at different distances.
Here was my strategy when I was chipping close to the green:
- No obstacles in front of me: Bump and run with PW
- Obstacle in front of me: Chip with SW
- Bunker: SW
In thinking about it, you could use this setup even as a low to mid handicapper. As long as you practice enough, you could shoot some pretty solid scores with only two wedges. Once you’re able to shoot in the 80s, you might want to consider adding another wedge.
How Many Wedges Mid Handicappers Should Carry?
Mid handicap golfers should carry three wedges, a pitching wedge, a gap wedge, and a sand wedge. The three-wedge setup will allow you to hit most types of shots, whether that’s full shots from the fairway, bump and runs around the green, or higher shots out of the bunker.
All golfers should carry the first two wedges we talked about, the PW and SW. That said, as you start getting better (and a lot more consistent), you should think about adding a third wedge to the bag.
The best option is to add a gap wedge to your bag.
You could still put up some pretty solid scores with only two wedges, but a GW can come in handy in a few situations:
- Hitting the ball 90-120 yards from the fairway
- Chipping bump and runs close to the green
As you may have noticed, there’s a pretty big distance gap between your PW and SW. It’ll be different for everyone, but I usually hit my PW 145 yards and my SW 100 yards.
That’s a big difference and you’ll probably find yourself in that range a lot during your round. Either a 50 or 52 degree gap wedge is what you should be looking at.
The second thing you could use your GW for is chipping around the green. We talked about how you could use your PW for bump and runs, you could also do that with your GW.
The main difference is your GW will hit the ball higher than your PW and will run out less. It’s something you’ll have to play around with, but it’s one of my most consistent clubs around the green.
How Many Wedges Low Handicappers Should Carry?
Low handicap golfers should carry four wedges, a pitching wedge, a gap wedge, a sand wedge, and a lob wedge. The four-wedge setup will allow you to be creative around the green so you’re able to hit any type of shot you’re required to.
The last wedge you should be adding to your bag is the lob wedge. This is a club a lot of golfers should avoid, but it does come in handy in certain situations. Hitting high flop shots in one example.
The reason I wouldn’t recommend this wedge to most is that it’s pretty tough to hit consistently. It’s a club that hits a lot of dirt and makes contact with the top of the ball. This is also known as fat and thin shots.
I used to have a lob wedge. I’d use it when I needed to chip the ball over bunkers or ponds. I took it out of my bag after reading a quote from Hank Haney and it actually improved my short game.
The average golfer shouldn’t use anything with more than 58 degrees of loftHank Haney
My highest lofted club is my sand wedge. If you can consistently shoot in the 70s, you might want to think about adding a 58 or 60 degree lob wedge. I’d recommend you listen to Hank and use a 58 degree.
The benefit of having a lob wedge is that you can be more creative around the green. You can get a number of different grind and sole options, which can help you hit different shots.
High bounce lob wedges can be useful for sand shots and wet courses. Low bounce wedges can be useful for hitting flop shots and firm courses.
How Many Wedges Do Pros Carry?
In most cases, professional golfers will carry four wedges, a pitching wedge, a gap wedge, a sand wedge, and a lob wedge. In certain situations, they might take a fairway wood out of their bag to add a fifth wedge with a different sole grind or amount of bounce.
Pros practice a lot, I’m sure you know that. They’re able to hit a bunch of different shots on the course. Having a custom wedge will help to hit certain shots.
You and I probably have one of each wedge. Pros will have a number of different options to pick from. They could have wedges with different grinds and amounts of bounce.
They know what type of course they’ll be playing and what the conditions will be like. This has a big impact on what wedges they’ll add to the bag.
You can only have 14 clubs in your bag during a tournament, which means you can’t have every type of wedge out there. For most tournaments, they’ll bring one of each wedge.
There are certain courses where the ground will be firm while the bunkers are soft. This means that one sand wedge might not be enough.
You might see a golfer remove one of their longer clubs and add a second SW to their bag. One with low bounce (for the fairway) and one with high bounce (for the soft bunkers).
I really wouldn’t recommend focusing on this if you’re an average player. It’s just too much to think about and you’d be much better off practicing more with the clubs you already have.
The 5th Wedge On The Market
We just talked about the four main types of wedges. Most people don’t know that there’s actually a fifth option you could consider, which has recently become super popular.
The other wedge you could consider is a chipper wedge.
If you like to hit bump-and-run shots, this is something to look at. If you don’t hit that shot often (or you’re already really good at it), I wouldn’t recommend this type of wedge.
A chipper wedge has the loft of a 9 iron and is the length of a putter. The lie is also more upright, which lets you get closer to the ball, and hopefully, hit better shots.
An example of this club is the Ping ChipR, which is in the picture above. It’s designed for hitting low chip shots within 30-40 yards of the green. In short, it works quite well.
The bad thing about them is that you can’t use them in a lot of situations (and the Ping ChipR is expensive). If you need to chip over something or through thicker rough, it’s not going to work.
For links courses, the only club that performed close is my putter. The ChipR outperformed my other wedges when chipping around the green with no obstacles in front of me. If you’re curious about it, you can see the best golf chippers here to see how the ChipR compared to other options out there.
Note. This article is part of our golf wedge buyers guide series. If you’d like to know more about how to pick the perfect wedge, be sure to read that entire article.
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