Among the most frequent questions the golf coaches and professional golfers are asked is “How many wedges should I carry?”
This is not a question that a beginner golfer would ask. It usually comes from golfers who have advanced in the golf game well enough to start wondering how many and what wedges they are supposed to include in their golf bag. And with so many options and the limit of just 14 golf clubs, it appears sensible to double-check which of the wedges will be needed.
There are four wedges that golfers can include in their golf bag: a pitching wedge (PW), a gap wedge (GW), a sand wedge (SW), and a lob wedge (LW).
The pitching wedge is the standard wedge that comes as a must, and professional golfers usually recommend getting at least one more. When selecting which of them will be part of the bag, it is crucial for players to assess their game, their handicap, and their skills with the wedges. Plus, each of the wedges has different loft ranges, bounce, and grinds to add versatility and assist golfers when approaching the green.
With four different purposes, and triple more alternatives, it appears that the role of the wedges is not only to help players approach the green, but they are usually referred to as goalkeepers saving shots from the hazards, sands, and the turf. When considering each of the wedges, golfers need to understand their role and how they can help shave off a few shots.
What Lofts Do Wedges Have And How Is That Relevant?
Of all the clubs in the bag, wedges have the higher degrees of loft. Pitching wedges have the highest degree loft(45 degrees), while lob wedges come with as high as a 64-degree loft.
Pitching Wedge (PW)
It is the most common wedge that comes with any set of irons. With 45-50 degrees loft, pitching wedges are intended for over 100-yard shots. A tour player is likely to achieve 125 yards, while an average player is expected to reach about 105 yards. Pitching wedges are included in most golf sets due to their versatility and broad use, i.e., chip shots around the greens and full-out shots.
Sand Wedge (SW)
The loft range of sand wedges is between 54 and 58 degrees. This wedge is intended to help golfers tackle bunker shots. A tour professional is likely to achieve 100 yards with it, while an average approximately gets about 100 yards. Its rounded sole and curved head suit well for fringe chips or sand bunker shots.
If you haven’t seen our review on the top sand wedges for 2021, you can read that here.
Lob Wedge (LB)
The lob wedge has the highest loft range, i.e., between 60 and 64 degrees. It is mainly used to deliver high, short distance, arching shots known as flop shots. To use the lob wedge, golfers need to have developed certain dexterity to achieve high spin and instant stopping power. This is why some pro golfers use it from the fairway when they need to reach 75 to 95-yard distance on shots that are supposed to land softly. However, amateurs are not expected to reach more than a 30-yard distance.
Gap Wedge (GP)
Many find the gap wedge controversial as it has been designed to fill the gap between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. It is used for covering about 100-yard distance for flop shots as its loft ranges from 50 to 55 degrees.
Our favorite Gap Wedge for 2021 is reviewed here.
Does Loft Gaps in Golf Wedges Matter?
Many golf experts and craftsman claim that gaping in wedges plays a very important role. Even if you decide to include all four wedges in your golf bag, the recommendation is to have about four-degree gapping between the wedges.
But, it all depends on the players’ swing, accuracy, and control. Of course, a tour pro who is used to practicing all sorts of short game shots like pitching, chipping, or out of the sand are aware of the importance of lowering the approach shots from three to two. This allows them to assess their game in a way that they never regret not taking that one significant wedge.
Club players might not be as skilled as pros, but they will equally need a good gapping between one wedge to another to shave off a few approach shots. So, finding a fitting pro that is able to make a good assessment of your swing speed, spin control, and accuracy to customize the loft of your wedges.
Which Clubs Should I Swap for My Wedges?
When preparing the golf bag, many golfers face the dilemma of what wedges to include. Among the golf clubs subject to trade-off, wedges, woods, and long irons play the main role.
When professional golfers make room for their wedges, they leave out the longest irons and include a higher-lofted wedge. They usually take a lower-lofted hybrid to complement the bag and strengthen the loft of the longest iron they decide to take.
Average and recreational golfers, though, need more than one hybrid, in addition to a 3-wood and a 5-wood. This lowers their chances to include all the wedges in the range, so they might end up selecting just two wedges. In such a case, the highest wedge loft is not recommended to go over 56 degrees.
What Club Will Save You the Most Shots?
To answer this question precisely, you need to consider your game from all aspects. First, think about what aspect of the game causes you the most trouble. Having enough power and swing speed means you’ll benefit more from your fairway woods and hybrids in the long game. That can save you a few shots, and you’ll probably end up selecting a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and/or a lob wedge.
If you struggle with long shots on par 4s or 5s, then it is understandable that you’ll need more support from your wedges. If your control and swing speed are your ace under your sleeve, then you could select a pitching wedge and another wedge of a higher loft, but not more than a 15-degree distance between the two.
Lots of players decide to play with only two wedges without affecting their efficiency. These golfers usually excel at half and three-quarter shots to take maximum advantage of one club. In case of short-game inconsistency, players should take more clubs. In this case, the recommended wedges are a pitching wedge at 48 degrees and a sand wedge at 56 degrees. Having your wedges like this will help you maintain the recommended gap between the pitching wedge and the 9-iron.
Statistically speaking, the number of golfers who have three wedges in their golf bags is the highest. Most average golfers opt for it because this configuration leaves the opportunity to get two fairway woods, or hybrids. When having three wedges, then their loft gapping should start at 46 degrees pitching wedge, 52 degrees lob wedge, and 58 degrees sand wedge.
If you want to play it safe around the green, then a full set of four golf wedges is the option you should consider. This is usually a preferred option for players who feel confident when hitting full shots and lack the skills in their short game. When you choose this option, make sure that the gap between the lofts is about four degrees.
What wedges do pros have in their bag?
One of the most interesting parts of following the golfers on the PGA Tour is researching the equipment that they use. Some golfers will use clubs that are accessible to us amateurs, and others use prototypes created specifically for their needs.
Golf pros change up their golf club set based on the tournament they are playing in and the game plan they create for that course. However, some characteristics about the wedges in the pro’s bags remain pretty consistent.
For the most part, all pros are going to carry four wedges. The wedges will be a pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge. The lofts on these wedges vary significantly from one player to another.
For instance, Phil Mickelson loves the lighter lofted wedges, and you can often find a 64 degree wedge in his bag. Other players may have a wedge with only 58 degrees of loft. Overall, pros can hit the ball a long way, where they need to gain a competitive advantage is in the short game.
What wedges should a beginner carry?
The two most essential wedges for beginners to carry are the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Beginners need to pay close attention to the equipment they purchase as it often only comes with a pitching wedge.
When you are new to the game, the sand wedge is an essential club. Having that extra loft to help you get out of a bunker or to hit a chip shot that actually stops on the green is a very important part of the game.
Beginners that purchase a set without a sand wedge can easily add one in. Once golfers notice that there are performance differences between their two wedges, they can start to add in the gap and eventually the lob wedge.
What wedges are most important?
One of the great debates in the game of golf is the concept of which golf club is the most important in the bag. The wedges that are most important are the ones that you rely on to get you up and down when you miss a green.
For most players, this ends up being the sand wedge. Something with about 56 degrees of loft tends to be an excellent loft choice for getting the ball to launch up into the air and then stop near the pin.
In addition, the 56 degree wedge can be used out of a bunker. Truly this is a versatile club that should be valued when looking at the overall importance of all clubs in your bag. If you have the chance to practice golf at home, keep your 56-degree wedge around; the more confident you get, the better it will help you score.
The writers on PG Golf Links have reviewed and tested a ton of wedges for 2021. If you haven’t done so already, please check out our blogs on most Forgiving, wedges for Mid-handicappers and beginner golfers, Gap, Pitching, Chipping, and Sand wedges. If you have a club or golf product you would like us to review, please be sure to drop us a line.