What Wedge The Average Golfer Should Use Around The Green

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When it comes to chipping, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the past couple of years. I really wanted to get things dialled in, so I did some testing to see what wedge the average golfer should chip with around the green.

For the average golfer, chipping with a pitching or gap wedge will produce the most consistent shots around the green. Using a gap wedge will be the best place to start for standard chips, but a pitching wedge could work better if the ball is sitting up in the rough.

Just because this was the case for me doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for you. As you start getting better, you might want to add loft to be able to control the ball better. For the average player, using less loft, getting the ball on the green ASAP, and letting it run out will give you the widest margin of error. Let’s jump into the numbers.

If you’re in the market for a new wedge or two, it’s important that you pick the right one for your game. Are you a beginner or high handicapper? These are the best wedges for the average player. Maybe you’re a bit better than average? These are our favorite wedges for mid handicappers.

What Wedge To Use Around The Green

My chipping has always been up and down over the years, and I think a lot of it was the fact that I never had a club selection strategy. I really wanted to fix this, so I’ve been talking to a few different coaches as well as other golfers.

What I’ve found is that everybody has a different opinion. Some coaches said to use one club for every type of shot while others said you should use a different club depending on the lie. Great, that’s super helpful.

When asking other golfers what wedge they normally use, the most common answer was a 60-degree wedge. After digging into it a bit, it turns out that these players were mid to low handicappers. The average golfer is NOT mid or low handicap, so this isn’t helpful either.

Butch Harmon had a quote a while ago that the average player shouldn’t use anything above 58 degrees. I think that’s true, just look at how many times you see people top of chunk their chips.

The average golfer shouldn’t use anything higher than 58 degrees.

Butch Harmon

So, what’s the best option when you’re chipping around the green? Is it a shorter iron like a 7-9 iron? Maybe it’s a pitching or gap wedge. Or maybe it’s the trusty sand wedge. The only way for me to figure out what the right answer is was to test them all out for myself.

These are the clubs I wanted to test:

  • 8 iron.
  • Pitching wedge.
  • Gap wedge.
  • Sand wedge.

I know there are a bunch of different shots you could have around the green, so I made sure to test that as well. Here are the different shots you might have to hit:

  • Ball beside the green and sitting down.
  • Ball beside the green and sitting up in the rough.
  • Ball away from the green and sitting down in the grass.
  • Ball away from the green and sitting up in the rough.
  • Ball behind something such as a bunker, pond, or patch of rough.

So, what I decided to do was put the ball in each of these 5 spots and take 5 shots with each club. I recorded the distance from the pin and calculated the average distance. For me, the results were pretty consistent.

I know everyone will be slightly different and I know it’ll all depend on what shot you need to hit. Sometimes you need the ball to roll out more and sometimes you need the ball to land softly.

In summary, I think the average golfer should use enough loft to land the ball on the green ASAP and have it run out towards the hole. In most cases, that’s a pitching or gap wedge. Higher lofted wedges should only be used when you need to get the ball up and over something. Anyways, let’s check out my results.

Ball Beside Green + Ball Sitting Down

ClubAverage Distance From Pin
8 Iron8.75 feet
PW8.00 feet
GW7.25 feet
SW9.50 feet

The first test was to put the ball on the edge of the green and chip five balls. This could be for when the ball is sitting in the fairway or it could be sitting down in the rough.

After hitting each club, I got the most consistent results with the gap wedge. The second best club was the pitching wedge. As I went down to the 8 iron, the average distance increased.

What I noticed with the 8 iron was that the ball rolled past the hole. I wanted to keep the ball short of the hole, but I had a tough time doing that with the lower lofted irons.

With my pitching wedge, the numbers were a little better. The ball didn’t roll out quite as much, and the results were definitely better.

With my sand wedge, the results were either really good or really bad. One of the shots was a chunk and one of them was a top. The rest were actually pretty close.

The best rest was with my gap wedge. My goal was to bump the ball on the green and let it run out. Less loft was more forgiving for me, and the extra loft didn’t let the ball run out too much.

Ball Beside Green + Ball Sitting Up In Rough

ClubAverage Distance From Pin
8 Iron7.25 feet
PW6.50 feet
GW7.50 feet
SW8.50 feet

The next test was to put the ball on the edge of the green, but make it sit on top of the rough. I expected the results to be pretty similar, and I did notice something pretty interesting.

The best results came from the pitching wedge. The gap wedge was the best before, but this time it was the second-worst.

What I noticed was that when the ball is sitting up, having less loft will help. Clubs with more loft tended to slip under the ball, which didn’t hit the ball far enough.

A simple bump and run with a lower loft is what gave me the best results. Getting the ball on the green ASAP and letting the ball run out is what should give the average guy the best results.

Ball Away From Green + Ball Sitting Down

ClubAverage Distance From Pin
8 Iron12.00 feet
PW11.00 feet
GW9.75 feet
SW12.50 feet

The next test was to move the ball away from the green and have it sit on the fairway or down in the rough. The goal here was to chip the ball on the green and let it run out to the hole.

The best results for me came from the gap wedge. This was the same for when the ball was sitting down on the edge of the green. A little bit more loft (but not too much) was what I needed.

As we decreased the amount of loft, the average distance increased. I found that less loft hit the ball too low and made it run past the hole.

The sand wedge wasn’t the best either because there were a few shots that were terrible. I’m sure you know all about chunking your wedge or blasting the ball 20 yards off the green. Yeah, that happened.

Ball Away From Green + Ball Sitting Up In Rough

ClubAverage Distance From Pin
8 Iron12.00 feet
PW10.50 feet
GW11.25 feet
SW13.50 feet

Now, we needed to put the ball in the rough and have it set a little high. Again, just like before, the pitching wedge came out on top.

The gap wedge and 8 iron were both pretty close, but having a bit less loft definitely helped. My sand wedge would get under the ball too much and I don’t think anything higher than an 8 iron would have enough loft.

Ball Behind Obstacle

ClubAverage Distance From Pin
8 Iron19.50 feet
PW13.50 feet
GW10.75 feet
SW9.25 feet

The final test was to put the ball behind an obstacle and chip over it. This could be a bunker, pond, or rough you need to get the ball over.

It’s pretty clear that more loft is important here. I’d highly recommend against using an iron to chip over something. A lot of the time, there wasn’t enough loft to actually get over the obstacle.

Using either sand or gap wedge is the only real choice. You need to get the ball up quickly, and these two wedges got me a lot closer to the hole.

Can You Chip With Your 7-9 Iron?

For the average golfer, chipping with a 7, 8, or 9 iron could be the right choice when you’re on the edge of the green and have a lot of green to work with. The goal for chips like this is to get the ball on the green as soon as possible and let the ball roll out to the hole.

The majority of people don’t even consider using their shorter irons to chip the ball, but there is a time and a place for it. The best time to use these clubs is when you want to bump and run the ball.

For me, hitting these irons when the ball was close to the green gave me some pretty good results. I preferred a bit more loft because my 8 iron tended to run past the hole too much.

If the ball is 10-20 yards away from the green, I’d only consider using one of these clubs when you could also putt the ball. Having a bit of extra loft should give you a wider margin of error.

If you need to get past a bunker, pond, or patch of rough, I wouldn’t hit one of these clubs. You won’t be able to get the ball high enough to get anywhere close to the hole.

Should You Chip With A Pitching Wedge?

For the average golfer, chipping with a pitching wedge will produce the most consistent results when the ball is sitting up in the rough. A club with too much loft will slide under the ball and you’ll have a lot of shots that end up short.

After testing things out for myself, I noticed twice that the pitching wedge was the right choice for me when the ball was sitting on top of the rough. This could be on the edge of the green or it could be 10-20 yards off the green.

What I noticed was that my gap wedge and sand wedge got under the ball too much. It could work if the pin was close to the edge of the green, but for most shots, a pitching wedge will be the most consistent.

Can You Use A Gap Wedge Around The Green?

For the average golfer, chipping with a gap wedge will produce the most consistent results when the ball is sitting down on the grass. Having a club with a bit more loft will help pick the ball out of the grass and give you the most control.

For most chips, my gap and pitching wedge gave me the best results. That being said, I did prefer a bit more loft when the ball was sitting on the fairway or when it was sitting down in the rough. Wondering what gap wedge is right for you? Check out our article, 50 vs 52-degree wedge: What the average golfer should use.

This was especially true when the ball was in the rough. Hitting a ball that was sitting down in the rough with a lower lofted club wasn’t that effective for me. The ball either blasted over the green or it got caught up in the rough again.

Something with more loft (more than 52 degrees) might not be the answer either. A lot of people will chunk the ball or top it over the green when they chip with their sand or lob wedge. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend it for most.

Should You Use A Sand Wedge Around The Green?

For the average golfer, chipping with a sand wedge should only be used when you need to get the ball over an obstacle. A sand wedge is much more prone to chunking or topping the ball, and is why most golfers should use a gap or pitching wedge in most cases.

For me, my sand wedge is my highest lofted club (56 degrees). I can hit it pretty well, but I’ll mainly use it when I need to get the ball up and over something. I still top or chunk the ball every now and then, and that’s why I normally chip with my pitching or gap wedge.

Looking to get a new sand wedge? Make sure you get the right one. Check out our article, 54 vs 56 degree-wedge: What the average player should use.

As you start getting better, you’ll want to use a higher lofted wedge more often because it’ll be easier to control. For beginners and high handicappers, getting the ball on the green as quickly as possible and letting it run out to the hole will produce the best results.

Should You Chip With A 60 Degree Wedge?

For the average golfer, chipping with a 60-degree wedge isn’t the best choice. Using a wedge with a high loft will result in a lot of inconsistent shots, and that’s why you should only use this club when you’re able to shoot in the 70s and 80s.

I’m sure a lot of the people you see on the course will be chipping with a 60-degree wedge. The guys and gals on tour use them, so why wouldn’t you? That might not be the best option though.

Just think about how many times you hit (or see someone hit) 3 inches behind the ball or slap shot the ball across the green. That’s what more loft does and is why I don’t use a 60-degree myself.

Butch Harmon said the average player shouldn’t use anything above 58-degrees. It just depends on what wedges you already have and how spaced out they are. For me, a 56-degree sand wedge and a 50-degree gap wedge are the best fit. For you, a 58-degree lob wedge and a 54-degree sand wedge could be better.

If you’re unsure about what lob wedge to have, check out our article, 58 vs 60-degree wedge: The lob wedge for average golfers.


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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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