For most golfing beginners there is a point in your journey where you start to take the game seriously for the first time. Initially, you look to shave strokes off your game in numerous ways. Perhaps you take the plunge and get fitted for golf clubs by an expert or buy a package of lessons from your local club pro. Or maybe you decide to purchase a more expensive golf ball hoping to take advantage of the latest technology.
Regardless of where you begin your quest to lower scores, there can be areas of improvement that get overlooked causing a plateau in your development. It is easy to get puzzled when deciding where to start your focus for shaving strokes, but one of the most precise ways you can begin to see progress is by purchasing a new wedge for your bag.
How to Buy the Best Wedge for Your Game
With tens of golf manufacturers offering a wide variety of styles and features with their wedge line it can be incredibly difficult to lower the number of options that are right for you. The best way to cut through the mess is to know precisely what you are looking for in a wedge. Here’s a quick wedge primer that will get you pointed in the right direction.
The first thing you will need to know when deciding on adding a wedge to your bag is what loft you want the club face to have. Wedges can range in degrees of loft anywhere from 47-degrees with a pitching wedge to 62-degrees for a lob wedge.
Of course, loft varies with each manufacturer, and there are wedges available that exceed 62 degrees. But these gimmicky wedges are for more specialized needs such as severe rough and not suited for typical amateur play.
Another feature of the wedge that confuses most amateurs is about the bounce angle of the club. Wedges are designed to cut through obstacles such as sand and thick rough to quickly get the ball in the air and out of trouble.
The bounce angle of a wedge refers to the difference in the loft from the leading edge of the bottom of the sole to the club’s back edge. This slight difference enables the club to move through those obstacles without getting stuck and causing weak contact with the golf ball.
Course conditions play a significant role in choosing the right bounce angle for your wedges. For professional golfers, manufacturers will supply different degree levels of bounce to combat the challenges of that week’s course conditions.
But most amateurs won’t have that luxury due to the expense, so finding the perfect bounce angle on a wedge for each course you play isn’t likely feasible. When testing wedges, however, it is important not to get lost in finding the perfect bounce angle but instead understanding how the club feels at contact when getting the ball in the air.
As critical as it is to find the proper shaft flex when buying fitted irons, purchasing a wedge with the right shaft is equally as important. Buying a wedge off the shelf without an understanding of how shaft flex affects your shot making ability is a recipe for disaster.
Your swing speed will determine the right flex for your wedge. If you don’t have access to the technology for finding out your club speed, then use this simple conversion for locating the right shaft flex.
When using your driver, if you carry the ball from 180-200 yards then you are looking for a Senior flex. 200-to-240 yards will put you in the Regular flex section of your wedge shopping. If you find your drives carrying 240-to-275 off the tee, then the Stiff flex is the choice for you. Any distance over 275 necessitates a Tour or Extra Stiff shaft.
These guidelines carry over to finding the right shaft for your wedge.
Best Wedges for Beginners and High Handicappers
Cleveland Smart Sole 3S Wedge
One of the most critical aspects of the short game for beginning golfers is learning how important confidence and “feel” are when hitting shots around the green. One of the best ways to cut the learning curve on this skill is to find a great wedge that helps you create the necessary shots.
The Smart Sole S3 is designed with the needs of the high handicapper in mind. A patented Three Tiered Sole eases the clubhead through the worst obstructions the golf course can offer for a high ball flight that lands softly on the green.
The Smart Sole S3 is unique because Cleveland has intentionally moved the weight of the clubhead behind the face, so strikes at impact fly straight and true. On off-centered strikes, the Smart Sole S3 utilizes the center weighting to create a clubface that is more forgiving.
Another way Cleveland has created the perfect wedge for beginners is that the Smart Sole S3 is ideally played with a square clubface. Instead of having to lay the wedge open at address to encourage loft, the S3 can be played without having to worry about making these advanced adjustments.
Wilson Harmonized Golf Wedge
The redesigned Wilson Harmonized wedge series touts an innovative sole design that helps save strokes when facing trouble from around the golf course. With several options in loft and bounce, the Harmonized is ideal for the amateur looking to improve their wedge game without breaking the bank.
The upgraded sole grind allows the Harmonized to move effortlessly through sand and thick grass for smooth contact with the golf ball. This feature of the Wilson wedge encourages lift on the golf ball for escapability over hazards for shorter par-saving putts.
What is terrific about the Harmonized wedge is the feel the golfer receives when making solid contact with the club face. The response of the Wilson wedge after making contact immediately gives you feedback to let you know if your contact was centered on the club face. This measure of how you are striking the ball helps tremendously when making adjustments in practice.
The steel shafts included on the Harmonized are made by True Temper and deliver the quality typically associated with the brand. With two finishes to choose from, a high polish stainless steel and an anti-glare black, the Harmonized wedge will look great in any amateur’s bag.
With one of the largest clubfaces on the market today, the stylish wedges from Pinemeadow have grown in stature with their robust design and performance. Affordable and with many of the features of more expensive wedges, the Pinemeadow is an excellent option for amateurs looking for a dependable club.
A generous sweet spot on the clubface is one of the primary reasons that the Pinemeadow is so attractive for the weekend warrior. As the beginner starts to make strides in their game, having a club that forgives the off-center hits is pivotal for lowering your scores.
Another area where beginners struggle is when they use wedges they cannot get the proper lift and spin on the golf ball. The Pinemeadow wedge helps alleviate this problem with the enlarged club face. With the added area, golf balls come out cleaner, and the friction with the grooves create shot-stopping spin.
With a redesigned appearance, the Pinemeadow wedge is an appealing choice for the beginner looking for performance on a budget. The lofts available on the Pinemeadow wedges extend up to 68 degrees, so there are plenty of options to choose from when adding to your golf bag.
Tour Edge Hot Launch Wedge
When maintaining a wedge, one of the areas to focus on is keeping the grooves sharp on the club face. Sharpened, clean grooves create friction against the cover of the golf ball and that in turn generates spin. The spin will stop the golf ball on the green on short chips and pitch shots.
One of the most underrated wedges on the market for the beginner is the Hot Launch model from Tour Edge. The company has emphasized increasing spin with specialized milled grooves.
On the club face, Tour Edge has added weight in the toe of the wedge to increase the sweet spot. When incorporated with a reconfigured sole design, the Hot Launch passes through the golf ball with strength and accuracy.
Tour Edge has also lightened the weight of the stainless steel shafts included with the Hot Launch. The reduction in weight increases swing speed for additional distance when hitting from the fairway. The lightweight shaft is coupled with a tour-tapered grip for improved feel during contact.
With multiple options for loft, the Hot Launch covers all angles for golfers looking to add a unique club for their bag. With a black nickel or stainless steel finish, the Hot Launch provides a sharp alternative for the amateur looking for a dependable wedge.
2018 Cobra Golf King Black Wedge
The best-looking wedge on the market is also one of the highest performers for the beginning golfer. The Cobra Black wedge allows any golfer to easily navigate any problem area on the course with conviction and faith.
With a body created from carbon steel, Cobra has placed an importance on creating a wedge line that places a priority on feel. Durable and sturdy, the Black wedge can withstand the punishment from multiple rounds at your favorite golf course.
Cobra has also created versatility within the line by offering multiple sole grind options. The grind of the sole aids the club in getting through rough and sand anywhere around the course.
In addition to the assorted sole grinds, Cobra has added height to the club face of the Black wedge, so more energy is directed to the golf ball at impact. With the increased sweet spot, the Black enables better feel around the greens.
For tech heads, Cobra offers an integrated technology called COBRA CONNECT that allows you to see advanced statistics when using the Black wedge via a smartphone app. The data can be used to improve practice with the wedge for more consistent performance.
Callaway Mack Daddy 4 Wedge
When looking for innovative wedges, Callaway has always been a leader among manufacturers. With the Mack Daddy 4, the company has created a wedge that is a premier performer for golfers of any skill level.
The reason the Mack Daddy 4 stands out is due to the club face. Callaway has placed 16 grooves along the Mack Daddy 4’s face, but not all wedges in the line are created the same.
For wedges that measure 52-degrees or lower in the Mack Daddy 4 series, Callaway has installed grooves that are made for consistency. For wedges that go 54-degrees and higher, the grooves are more aggressive for optimum spin and control.
In all Mack Daddy 4 wedges, there is an extra groove on the bottom of the club that Callaway has named the “Nip-It Groove.” The additional groove assists with improved control and assists with spin.
In addition to the different groove systems, the Mack Daddy 4 touts four different sole grinds for specialization based on the type of course you typically play. Two grinds are specially designed for amateurs who are still learning the game and need to play with a square face at address.
With enhanced grooves, the Mack Daddy is one of the best wedges on the market for the high handicapper.
Mizuno S18 Wedge
Another wedge that provides high performance is the Mizuno S18 model. Generating enhanced spin, even when the ball doesn’t find the center of the club face, the S18 offers forgiveness and flexibility.
For Mizuno, the S18 is their answer in helping amateurs generate consistent spin for predictability with their short game. The reshaped blade of the S18 is thicker through the upper area of the clubhead providing more stability on miss-hits. This redesigned face comes with the refined sole grind commonly associated with elite wedges.
The rounded profile of the clubhead makes it easier for the amateur to lift the ball in the air without having to open up the face.
The S18’s groove system is enhanced by a coating of Boron that provides maximum durability. In turn, the layer of Boron makes sure the grooves won’t have to be sharpened as often.
With a higher center-of-gravity on the club face, Mizuno gives the amateur more control over the height of entry shots into the green. In addition, the enhanced spin makes these higher shots land softer.
The S18 comes in two different finishes, black IP and white satin. Both are attractive and look terrific in any amateur’s bag.
When finding the right wedge for your bag, always know the reason you are adding the club. Whether it be a pitching, gap, sand or lob wedge understand how each club functions in relation to helping you lower your scores.
Current technology has made it simpler for high handicap players to lower scores by getting the ball closer to the hole on entry shots. If you are having trouble getting out the sand and gnarly rough, look for wedges with the appropriate bounce angle and sole grind for smoothly navigating through obstacles.
Getting the right wedge is essential to reducing scores and producing more enjoyment for yourself with the great game of golf.
Golf Wedge FAQ’S
What is the difference between wedges?
A golf wedge can be used for many different shots but usually from less than 120 yards. The different lofts on wedges will cause the ball to travel different distances and generally speaking a full shot with a lob wedge (around 60-64 degrees of loft) will travel around 80-90 yards. A pitching wedge should travel between 115-125 yards. A wedge will differ from a normal iron in its composition to give the player more feel and control over wedge shots. Unlike cavity backed irons, wedges are more like blades enabling the player to generate more spin and shape on each shot.
How to hit wedges?
There are many different ways to hit wedge shots but the key for most players is to know the distances for each club. A full shot with a wedge should be the same technique as for an eight or nine iron with the ball in the middle of the stance. If players want to generate more height, they can open their stance and put the ball further forward (i.e. toward the left foot for a right handed player). Also, they can open the club face by turning the grip clockwise from the normal position. A low pitch shot should be played with the ball slightly back in the stance and this should also generate more spin on the green.
How to spin the golf ball with wedges?
Spin is generated on a wedge shot by hitting down on the back of the ball. By doing so the ball will run up the grooves of the clubface and cause the ball to spin. To help with this action, players should place the ball slightly back in their stance (toward the right foot for a right hander) as this will naturally create a steeper attack angle. It is important to try and ensure the wrists are rolling over upon impact or the shot could result in a push, block or slice. For players unfamiliar with this technique, start by hitting half shots before progressing up to three-quarter and full shots.
How do Golf Wedges Work?
Wedges are often referred to as the scoring clubs and can really make a big difference to a player’s handicap when used properly. The design of a wedge makes it possible to play different types of shot such as high lofted shots from around the green and can be used to generate a lot of spin from the fairway. Because of the height and spin a player can generate on a wedge shot, they are ideal for getting the ball close from difficult positions or from close range. Chipping out of a bunker, or over a bunker, is sometimes only possible with a wedge.
What does bounce mean in golf wedges?
Bounce is the angle between the sole of the club and the ground at address. Bounce refers to the part of the sole of the club that hits the turf when hitting a wedge shot and can vary from low to high. Generally speaking low bounce on a wedge is useful for hitting shots from tight, firm fairways or hard, wet sand. Higher bounce will be more useful for soft, wet fairways or soft sand as it will help the club glide through the ball. A player’s technique and attack angle will have a big factor on the type of bounce they should choose on clubs and if in doubt should speak to a professional when choosing wedges.
Who makes the best golf wedges?
Most people would say Vokey wedges by Titleist are the best and they are the most used brand of wedge on the PGA tour. Cleveland wedges are also very popular and the brand is synonymous with top quality wedges. The usual big names in golf club manufacturing such as Ping, Callaway, Taylor Made, Cobra and Srixon all make great wedges. More recently PXG has entered the wedge market with some rave reviews. However with each wedge starting at around $650, players will have to be pretty sure they like it to make a purchase.
How to remove rust from wedges?
The best way to ensure your wedges stay free of rust is to regularly clean them. However if rust does form on your wedges, you can simply place them in a bucket of coke for 5-10 mins before using a wire brush to remove the rust. Two to three cans of coke should be enough and be sure to give them a clean in some hot soapy water afterwards.
How often to replace golf wedges?
This is entirely dependent upon a player’s budget and ambition to be a better golfer but a good set of golf wedges can last ten years or more. The grip and the club face may need maintained if worn out and this will depend on the frequency of use. If a player significantly improves their playing ability over a short period of time they may need to upgrade their wedges to stiffer shafts. There is no hard and fast rule about how often to replace wedges but improvements in technology could tempt a player to invest to keep up with their peers.
How many wedges to carry?
In a standard competition golfers are allowed only 14 clubs in their bag. Most will choose to have three wedges as well as a pitching wedge but this can depend on a player’s flexibility with their short game. A standard pitching wedge these days has around 45 degrees. Therefore the next clubs in the set should be around 50 degrees, 54 degrees and 58 degrees. Obviously this can be changed where the pitching wedge has a higher or lower loft but generally there should be an even gapping between these clubs.
How to clean your wedges?
Cleaning wedges is a fairly simple process and nothing special is needed to do it properly. Using some hot water with a soapy detergent will do the trick and a basic scrubbing brush or cloth can be used to get rid of excess dirt between the grooves on the clubface. Wedges will stay in better condition and therefore last longer if cleaned regularly and this includes during a round when mud and dirt can easily get stuck in the grooves of the club. Ideally players should carry a towel on their golf bag and use some water to clean clubs after each shot.