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Pretty much all iron sets come with a pitching wedge, and there’s good reason for it, it’s one of the most versatile clubs in the bag. Whether you’re a beginner or a scratch golfer, you should have a PW in your bag. This post will cover everything you need to know about them.
I’ve done a lot of research and testing to find out everything I can about the PW. Things like when you should use it, how far it should go, and how to actually hit it. Let’s jump into some of the most common questions people have about the pitching wedge.
What Is A Pitching Wedge?
A pitching wedge is a club that comes with between 42-46 degrees of loft and will fit between a 9 iron and gap wedge. It comes standard with most iron sets and is one of the most important wedges to carry because of its versatility.
Since most iron sets already come with a PW you’ll probably already have one. If you don’t, I might recommend getting one because they’re so useful.
A PW is one of the most used clubs in the bag and is the first or second wedge people should get. If you’re wondering, the sand wedge is the other one.
RELATED: How Many Wedges Average Golfers Should Carry?
With a PW and SW, you can hit 90% of the shots out there (bunker, fairway, high chips, bump and run). This is all I’d recommend for beginners and high handicaps. Get the other wedges once you get better.
Let’s dive into some of the specs.
Pitching wedge loft: On average, a pitching wedge will have 43.5 degrees of loft but the numbers can range between 42 and 46 degrees. These numbers have been decreasing over the years and will depend on the skill level the clubs are designed for.
A lot of articles out there say that most PW have between 44 and 46 degrees of loft. That was the case a few years ago, but the numbers have been decreasing over the past couple of years. I looked at every iron that was put out this year and this was the number I calculated.
Game improvement clubs tend to have lower amounts of loft to squeeze out any sort of additional distance. Tour level clubs tend to have higher amount of loft. It’s not always the case, but most of them have 43-44 degrees of loft. You can also bend the loft to fully customize the club.
Pitching wedge bounce: Most pitching wedges have between 7 and 11 degrees of bounce. This makes them considered to be mid to high on the bounce scale.
I’d imagine these numbers have increased over the years because a lot of companies are trying to make their clubs longer and more forgiving. You can see our full guide on wedge bounce and how it can help your game here.
The lower loft is what increased distance. The higher amounts of bounce makes it harder to dig the club into the ground. As Bob Vokey says, “bounce is your friend.”
RELATED: The 5 Types Of Wedges (And When To Use Them)
What Is A Pitching Wedge Used For?
A pitching wedge is used to hit bump-and-run shots around the green and for full shots from the fairway. With more loft compared to a 9 iron, it will travel higher and shorter. With less loft compared to a gap wedge, it will travel lower and longer.
My PW is probably my favorite club in the bag. The first reason is that I hit it so well. The other reason is that it’s incredibly versatile and can be used in a bunch of different places.
Here are the two main uses for a pitching wedge:
- To hit 110-140 yard shots
- For bump and run shots around the green
Everyone hits different distances so there isn’t a set rule for when to use your PW. We’ll get into this more in the next section but most people will pull out the PW when they’re 110-140 yards out.
A question I see a lot is “can you chip with a pitching wedge?” In my experience, a pitching wedge can be used to hit lower chips onto the green, also called a bump and run. These shots work when there is no obstacle in front of you or you have a lot of green to work with.
Everyone has seen the high flopping shot on tv, but not everyone can (or should) hit that shot. Hitting little bump and run chips that land on the green and roll to the hole are the much safer play for average golfers.
A PW is one of your options for this.
We did a test to see which wedge works the best in a few different situations, so you can see our article on what wedge to use around the green.
Another question I see a lot is “can you use a pitching wedge in the sand?” Hitting a pitching wedge out of the sand will only work when you’re in a fairway bunker away from the green. When you’re close to the green, a pitching wedge won’t work well because of the lower loft and bounce.
How Far Should A Pitching Wedge Go?
Most golfers will hit their pitching wedge between 100 and 140 yards. After asking 10+ different golfers from different age and skill groups, the average person hits their pitching wedge 116 yards.
The distance you hit your PW will depend on a wide range of factors. Male or female plays a roll and so does age (usually). Skill level also tends to impact distance, but it wasn’t always the case.
I’ve golfed with a few single handicap golfers who barely hit their PW over 100 yards. I also know people who shoot over 100 that hit their PW 150+ yards. It’s not always the case, but in more cases than not, better golfer = more distance.
If you’re curious about how far people hit their other wedges, check out our average wedge distance article. Again, it’ll show the typically distance range as well as the average number.
Pitching Wedge Shaft (Flex & Weight)
The average golfer should use the same shaft in their pitching wedge that they do in their irons. This will allow you to have a consistent feel across your clubs and should help you improve your game.
For a lot of golfers, it’s not going to make sense to have irons with light steel or graphite shafts and wedges with heavy shafts. They’ll just feel way too different.
Pretty much all iron sets come with a PW and they’ll have the same shafts off the rack. This is what beginners and high handicappers should stick with.
That said, as you start getting better you might want to consider getting your clubs fitted to your swing. I might recommend looking into this when you can consistently shoot in the 80s (and want to improve).
When you buy an individual wedge, a lot of them will come with a “wedge” flex. This is pretty much just a stiff flex. I prefer something slightly stiffer because I can control the ball a bit better (and I don’t need distance).
Wedge shafts will also come in different weights. It can get a bit complicated and you’ll never fully know until you go in to get fitted. Individual wedges will normally be heavier than iron shafts.
I actually ended up putting a slightly heavier shaft in my PW and I noticed a difference right away. My irons are stiff flex with a 100 gram shaft. I ended up putting the same shaft in my PW, except it was 120 grams.
It’s now my favorite club in the bag because it gives me a much more controlable and consistent ball flight. It might not work for everyone, but for me it made a difference. You’ll never know until you try.
Pitching Wedge Shaft Length
The standard pitching wedge will be between 35.75 and 36 inches long, depending on the brand. However, one length irons will come with a pitching wedge that’s the same length as a 7 iron, which is 37.25 inches long.
Most golfers get standard length golf clubs that they buy off the shelf. It’s been pretty standard that people that are 5’9″-6′ tall should use these clubs. If you have standard length clubs, your PW is probably just below 36 inches.
The majority of golfers hit their PW a lot better than their longer irons. Part of the reason is the increased loft but the other reason is that the shaft is shorter.
I think playing the standard PW for your height is fine. What I do think is that most people play a driver, wood, hybrid, and long irons that are too long for them.
Here are a couple articles you might find interesting:
Back to the PW. I actually switched to single length irons recently and my PW is the same length as a standard 7 iron (37.25 inches). I was a bit concerned that the longer wedge would hurt my accuracy and control, but it wasn’t the case at all.
It’s actually become my favorite and most consistent club in the bag. It may or may not be the case for you (you’d need to try), but in my experience, having a PW that’s between 35.75 and 37.25 inches long should suit people between 5’9″ and 6′.
Pitching Wedge Ball Position
For standard pitching wedge shots, having the ball somewhere between the middle of your stance and 4 inches inside your front heel will produce the best results. You should place the ball at the low point of your swing, where the club comes in contact with the ground.
Everyone plays golf differently and everyone plays the ball in different spots. There really isn’t a right and wrong way to do it, so you’ll need to do a bit of testing.
What you need to figure out is where the low point of your swing is. Take a normal swing and see where you make contact with the ground. That’s the general area you should put the ball.
For most golfers, that could be anywhere from the middle of your stance to a clubhead inside your front heel. I’ve messed around with it a lot and there’s a certain spot that works much better for me.
The standard across the golf industry is to play your wedges in the middle of your stance and the driver just inside your front heel. Woods, hybrids, and irons will be somewhere between.
The other approach is to put the ball in the same spot (for most shots) and adjust the width of your back foot. This is what I do and find that it makes things more simple.
This is the same approach that Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus used. The ball is placed a clubhead inside your front foot (3-4 inches) for all clubs. Here’s a quick video that explains it:
Again, I’m not saying this will work better for you because it might not. All I’m saying is that you need to figure out what works the best for you. I would recommend giving what’s in the video a try though.
Pitching Wedge vs Approach Wedge
The difference between a pitching and approach (gap) wedge comes down to loft and length. An approach wedge has more loft, which means it won’t go as far, but the benefit is that you’ll get higher shots with more spin.
Loft: The average PW has a loft of 43-44 degrees while an approach (gap) wedge is between 50-52. This simply means that a PW will hit the ball lower and longer compared to an AW.
Length: The standard PW is 35.75 inches long while the approach wedge is usually 0.25 inches shorter. The shorter shaft will impact shot distance slightly, but the real benefit is the increased control.
Bounce: Both of these wedges can come with mid to high amounts of bounce. This is why a lot of golfers find them easier to hit from the fairway compared to certain sand and lob wedges.
Use: Since these wedges are quite similar (other than loft), they can both be used in similar situations. Depending on distance, you can use them both from the fairway. Most people hit their PW 116 yards and their AW 103 yards.
They also have low enough loft to hit bump and run shots around the green. A PW will chip lower and run out more. An AW/GW will chip higher and run out less.
RELATED: 50 vs 52 Degree Wedge: Which Should You Play?
Pitching Wedge vs Sand Wedge
The difference between a pitching and sand wedge comes down to loft, length, and bounce. A sand wedge can have 10+ more degrees of loft compared to a pitching wedge. The higher bounce on a sand wedge is also better for sand shots.
Loft: A pitching wedge will have between 42 and 46 degrees of loft while a sand wedge will have between 54 and 56 degrees. This means the SW will go a lot higher than a PW with a lot less distance.
Length: A standard pitching wedge will be 35.75 inches long while a sand wedge is 0.5 inches shorter. The shorter length will help you with accuracy when you’re chipping around the green.
Bounce: These two wedges could have the same bounce degree, but in most cases, a SW will have quite a bit more. Most PW will have between 7-11 degrees while a SW will have between 8-14 degrees. More bounce will be better for fluffy sand and soft turf.
Use: Both wedges can be used from the fairway, it just depends on how far you are from the green and how far you hit each club. Most people hit their PW 116 yards and their SW 88 yards.
The difference comes when you’re beside the green. A PW will be used when you have no obstacles in front of you and you want to get the ball on the green ASAP and let it roll toward the hole. A SW will be used when you have an obstacle in front and need to hit the ball over it.
RELATED: 54 vs 56 Degree: Which Sand Wedge Is Best?
Note. This article is part of our series on how to pick the right wedge for your game. If you’re unsure about what wedge to play or want to know more know, check that out.
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