Every golf club in your bag should serve a certain purpose. Your golf swing, how far you can drive, and your touch — as well as personal preference — all determine whether you opt for a hybrid, mallet or blade putter, irons, and other clubs.
But one club arguably does more heavy lifting than the others — your wedge. However, the game has advanced in terms of golf club technology, leading to a hodgepodge of wedges and plenty of confusion for recreational and semi-serious golfers.
Gone are the days of a simple sand wedge/pitching wedge setup — even for beginners. Today, several types of golf wedges can make or break your short game. Learn more about the different types of wedges, what they’re used for, and the perfect option for your needs.
Whether you want to master a flop shot, get more accuracy on your chip, or improve your overall yardage, learning the right tool for the job is a fundamental part of golf course management. Before you assemble your golf bag, familiarize these five types of golf wedges to make the right choice.
Quick note: Not all manufacturers define wedges by name alone anymore. In some cases, the loft degree is the name of the club. So rather than a sand wedge, you might see a club called a 54 wedge.
Wedge loft: 44 to 48 degrees
Range: 90 to 145 yards
If you’re iron set is too much distance for a given situation, your pitching wedge is your best friend. The best distance option among all types of golf wedges, the pitching wedge has been a mainstay in golf bags since the inception of the modern game.
The pitching wedge is perfect for approaching the green from up to 150 yards, chipping from under trees, and hitting a ball from the light rough. It’s also easier to hit than all other types of golf wedges, allowing you to avoid chunking or topping the ball.
In general, you should choose a pitching wedge that’s similar to your irons in terms of the clubface, shaft, and materials. This will reduce errant shots, help you feel more comfortable, and improve consistency.
Wedge loft: 50 to 52 degrees
Range: 80 to 120 yards
Perfect for approach shots, the gap wedge — or approach wedge — is a type of golf wedge that fills the distance gap between your pitching wedge and your sand wedge. Beginner golfers probably don’t need one of these in their bag, but once you get serious about golf or play regularly, it’s a must-have.
A gap wedge not only gives you the ability to hit longer distances than your sand wedge, but it also gives you more backspin than a pitching wedge.
That’s a lethal combination when used correctly. You can still use a full shot when you swing a gap wedge. However, its best use might be a bump-and-run shot where you have plenty of space between the ball and the hole. Its higher degree of loft also lets you avoid obstacles such as tall grass or a creek on your bump and run with a chip without losing the roll.
Wedge loft: 54 to 56 degrees
Range: 70 to 110 yards
Don’t let the name fool you. The sand wedge isn’t used exclusively in the bunker. It’s a handy club when you’re chipping near the green, you need some added bounce to glide over terrain, or you need to play a short shot out of the rough.
With such versatility, the sand wedge works well in loose sand, yet it also has a high degree of backspin to help the ball stop more quickly than a pitching wedge or gap wedge — perfect for chipping around the green or if you’re on the edge of the green and the pin is on the other side. Just remember that a three-quarter or half-speed swing is the optimal choice for control.
Wedge loft: 58 to 62 degrees
Range: 60 to 90 yards
The lob wedge is the final addition to your bag. Most players don’t have one of these unless they’re consistently breaking 90. With such a high degree of loft, the lob wedge is difficult to hit for newbies. It also has more complex terminology and concepts that an average golfer isn’t always familiar with — namely wedge grind (removing material from the sole of the clubhead) and wedge bounce (the angle between the leading edge and the lowest point of the sole).
But if you’ve ever seen a pro golfer hit a wedge shot and stick it on the green with a ton of backspin, chances are they’re using a lob wedge. It’s ideal for high-angled, low-roll shots, and can be a handy option for fast greens.
Ah, the beloved Texas wedge — a fantastic tool to use on the golf course. But it’s a bit of a misnomer. No, the Texas wedge isn’t a wedge at all.
The Texas wedge is golf lingo given to a stroke where you use your putter to strike the ball from the fringe of the green or the edge of the sand trap. The idea behind this shot is that you can control the ball more effectively by keeping it on the ground rather than in the air, as well as controlling its roll and momentum.
As Arnold Palmer once said, “Your worst putt will be as good as your best chip shot.” So rather than read the undulations of the green, cross your fingers, and try to use a lofted club to hit a pitch shot, you pull out your trusty putter.
Using the Texas wedge takes a bit of practice, but for those struggling with easing off a full swing when they chip, it’s a worthy type of golf wedge to learn.
If you’re a beginner or an intermediate golfer, you don’t necessarily need all of these wedges out on the fairway. Excluding the Texas wedge, most amateur golfers choose a three-wedge system — a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and an approach wedge.
Pitching wedges and sand wedges provide a range of loft — typically 46 degrees of loft on the pitching wedge and 56 degrees on the sand wedge. This is typically enough to hit decent approach shots and bunker shots.
While you can always add a lob wedge into the mix, it’s not totally necessary. For beginners, a 60-degree wedge like a lob is unwieldy and short compared to other clubs; you’ll spend plenty of time on the driving range to handle this club. So rather than worry about hitting the leading edge of the lob wedge on the grass, shortening your swing, and overthinking the wedge bounce angle, your time may be better spent working with other wedges in your club set.
Whether you decide on a three-wedge or four-wedge setup, the key to selecting the right types of golf wedges combines your overall ability, tastes, and club versatility on the course. As mentioned, beginners need simplicity; intermediate and advanced golfers can choose whatever works for them.
If you choose a four-wedge setup, the most important aspect of choosing the perfect type of golf wedges is to have no more than 4 degrees of loft between any two wedges. This is known as the distance gap between your clubs. So if you have a 46-degree pitching wedge and a 54-degree sand wedge, a 50-degree approach wedge and a 60-degree lob wedge should do the trick.
If all of that sounds a bit overwhelming, your best bet is to check out a golf fitter. Golf fitting companies will assess your golf shot, suggest various clubs, and help you find the right wedge — whether you need a high-loft gap wedge or more surface area on the clubface to straighten out your shot.
Ultimately, the best wedge is the one that feels good in your hands and that you feel confident hitting. Everything else is a bonus.
You’ll recognize the brand name of the most common wedges used on the golf course. A buying guide can point you in the right direction, but some of the most popular options to strike your preferred golf ball include:
The top golfers in the world almost exclusively use four types of golf wedges for added versatility. This includes a pitching wedge, a 50- to 52-degree gap wedge, a 56-degree sand wedge, and a 60-degree lob wedge. The degree of bounce (low-bounce wedges vs. high-bounce wedges) is preferential — no correlation exists between the bounce degree and the talent or record of the golfer.
Understanding the various types of golf wedges and their purposes can point you toward the perfect club for your golf bag. Yet you shouldn’t have the notion that you need every club on the market.
Thanks to the surging popularity of golf, introductory and low-cost wedges are made with surprising quality — you don’t have to spend tons of your hard-earned cash to buy one. Before you spend hundreds or thousands on various wedges, start small, experiment, and figure out what you like — or perhaps more importantly — what you don’t. It’s a surefire way to discover that perfect lob wedge, pitching wedge, sand wedge, or approach wedge to complement your game.