Choosing Your Wedges properly can lower your score…
By: Dr. Barry Lotz
Wedges – Attack and Recovery Scoring Weapons – The Secrets you should Know about procuring the right weapon.
Choosing your wedges
It is estimated that 75% of shots during a round are played within 100 feet of the pin. As a consequence, over the past decade, wedges have become increasingly sophisticated, and dexterity with these instruments will certainly both lower your score and add to your enjoyment of the game.
Many golfers, including pros, now carry 2 to 4 wedges in their bag, yet what sets them apart is their mastery, through practice. The pros spend hours every day honing their skills with their wedges.
Grooves in irons channel moisture and grass away from the club surface, thereby allowing for better, cleaner contact with the golf ball much like treads on a tire.
Potential changes may be on the horizon relating to groove changes, but these arguably will have a minimal effect for the average golfer. Grooves are either of the U- groove, Square -groove or V- groove nature. Larger grooves allow for more spin and limiting the size of grooves is the subject under consideration.
My personal belief is that limiting the size of grooves will bring more skill back into the game and force ball manufacturers to produce a different ball. All of which will dilute the ‘Bomb and Gauge’ mentality prevalent in today’s game, AND it will also bring back a lot of golf courses, which
Particular grinds, like a C grind, are becoming increasingly popular with short-game artistes. This is where the heel and toe are ground down on the trailing side of the sole. This allows the sole and leading edge to lay flat on shots where the face needs opening, while still providing bounce relief on full shots. In actuality, these wedges can give the best of both worlds to golfers of all levels.
Gap wedges were designed to fill the gap that exists between your pitching and sand wedge. A gap wedge allows you more opportunity to play full shots when you are faced with those difficult in-between distances.
Today’s pitching wedges have lofts from 44° to 48° and sand wedges from 54° to 58°. That’s a difference of around 10. The loft differential between a standard nine iron and pitching wedge is 4, so the gap between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge is almost 2.5 club lengths.
One is therefore forced to choke down on the wedge shots much of the time, and we all know that 3/4 shots are much tougher to play than full shots.
Gap wedges generally have 51° or 52° degrees of loft, which places them nicely in the middle. Most of the premium manufacturers produce gap wedges that match their sets. There are also specific companies that specialize in wedges, in all lofts, such as Feel Golf, Vokey wedges, Bettinardi Golf and Eidolon Golf.
Unfortunately, one of the best wedge manufacturers, Sonartec, closed up shop, due to a company raider, rather than the quality of the wedges.
Gap wedges have “bounce”, but the measurement or degree of bounce isn’t that relevant because gap wedges are mainly used for full shots. Bounce is where the trailing edge of the wedge sits below the leading edge at the address
If possible, look for a gap wedge with a similar face profile and shaft weight o your existing wedges.
Sand wedges are designed to slice through bunker sand and can also be used for approach shots and chipping around the greens.
They too have “bounce” which allows the club head to slide smoothly through the sand without digging.
Sand wedges are available in different “degrees’ of bounce:
Low handicaps – may prefer a little less bounce (around 8). This enables a low handicapper to judge shots more accurately from all sand conditions. However, it requires more skill to benefit from the low bounce – you must be able to hit the selected spot behind the ball with good precision, especially in softer sand where the sole will not slide that easily.
Recommended low bounce wedges;
Cleveland 588 DSG Chrome or Oil Can finish
Mid range handicaps – generally do best with mid bounce (around 12) sand wedges. These are substantially more forgiving. If you don’t hit the sand in the precise spot, they slide through easily – especially in softer sand.
Recommended mid bounce sand wedges;
Ping Black Nickel
High handicaps – are most secure with high bounce (around 16) sand wedges. These provide maximum margin for error out of sand (especially soft sand) because of the high “bounce’ angle – you can hit with a generous degree of latitude behind the ball without much resulting difference.
When chipping with a sand wedge, the same rules apply as in lob wedges.
Recommended high bounce sand wedges:
Cleveland CG 14 (2 & 3 dots) Chrome or black
Vokey Tour Chrome or Oil Can (256.14)
Lob wedges perform those delicate up and downs around the greens better than any
They generally have 60° to 64° degrees of loft and are therefore one club more lofted than a sand wedge. Lob wedges are primarily used for chipping around the greens. The extra loft gets the ball up quickly, and the additional spin that the loft applies, stops the ball more effectively.
Lob wedges are great for popping the ball up quickly, over bunkers or for attacking the pin in tight positions ‘a la Phil Mickelson’. Lob wedges are most effective from 60 yards in.
Caveat: Do not purchase a lob wedge if you’re battling to chip with your sand wedge. Because it has greater loft, you’re required to execute a fuller swing to cover the same distance, which greatly increases your risk.
Practicing on a consistent basis is a necessity, not just with the lob wedge, but also with all aspects of your short game.
When it comes to bounce, the same rules apply:
* Low bounce lob wedges (around 4 degrees) tend to be best for lower handicaps and are perfect for players who like to be creative around the greens. They are also the most effective option from tight lies and firm turf conditions. The combination of less bounce and a narrower sole lowers the leading edge of the blade to promote clean contact. However, mistakes are heavily punished because the leading edge digs in on mis-hits.
* There isn’t enough bounce to help it slide through. In bunkers, low bounce lob wedges are only effective in firm or hardpan conditions – they don’t have enough bounce to slide through medium or fluffy sand.
Recommended low bounce lob wedges:
Mizuno MX Series
Mid bounce lob wedges (around 8 degrees) are great for mid handicaps. They are versatile and offer a good blend of finesse and forgiveness. Mid bounce lob wedges can be used in a wide variety of sand and turf conditions. The bounce is sufficient to prevent over digging and helps create a smoother gliding action under the ball for more consistent shot making. They are effective from bunkers as well as around the greens.
Recommended mid bounce lob wedges:
High bounce lob wedges (around 12 degrees) are generally preferred by higher handicaps and work best in lush and soft turf conditions and from soft, fluffy bunkers. They react well on mis-hits behind the ball and are generally more forgiving.
During winter, or on courses that don’t have much grass cover, high bounce wedges may “bounce” excessively through impact resulting in skinned/thin shots.
Caveat: For lower handicaps, high bounce wedges are clumsy and difficult to “finesse”.
Recommended high bounce lob wedges:
Cleveland CG 14 (3 dots) Chrome or black
Nike Victory Red
Lastly, remember that less expensive wedges are only made from traditional stainless steel, which may feel a little harder and offer less spin.
Premium wedges are either forged or cast from soft carbon steel which gives/imparts a softer feel and a little more spin. Similarly, copper and brass options are also a little softer and offer the same benefits.
Black oxide and other non-standard finishes reduce glare (reflection), but do not offer any appreciable playability advantage. A chrome finish is the most popular finish found on today’s wedges.
As with all types of tools, to develop proficient skills, practice makes perfect and the more time you spend with your wedges, the faster you will accomplish reducing your score. The answer is in the dirt!
The following wedges are the best available:
TaylorMade Z TP Wedge
TaylorMade Z TP wedge is the latest from the top golf manufacturer. The wedge features new Z-grooves, which help create increased spin to stop the ball more quickly. The TP stands for ‘Tour Preferred’, as the clubs have been designed with express input and feedback from TaylorMade’s long stable of Tour players.
A full line of lofts and wedges are available in both right and left hand models.
Nike Victory Red (VR) Wedge
Tiger helped design these new 1025 Forged Carbon Steel wedges with Tom Sites of Nike and won the US Open using a 60° Victory Red lob wedge. High rev grooves are milled into the club head up to the allowable limit to produce maximum spin for increased control and shot placement. A tour-inspired heel grind allows for increased shot-making capabilities from various lies.
The Nike Victory Red look as good as it plays.
Mizuno MP R Series wedge
This Mizuno wedge is a grain forged wedge with the grooves precision milled for maximum definition and the purest touch and biting control.
Srixon WG-706 wedge
This wedge features a press-milled face and engraved U-grooves which combine for superior spin and a soft feel, creating extra friction to help control the ball out of almost any lie. Available in variable lofts and bounce angles.
From the wedge guru, Bob Vokey, comes a new wedge that has a rougher surface in order to create better spin on partial shots (chips) or shots from grassy lies and wet conditions. Available in variable lofts and bounce angles.
From one of the oldest and best known golf manufacturers, the Tour-W is engineered to reliability on full shots as well as delicate chips and pitches around the green, as its milled face and grooves provide added consistency and
Callaway – X Forged wedge
Designed by legendary Roger Cleveland, the wedge is available in new white chrome or a gunmetal vintage finish. The wedge features the “aggressively sized’ Mack Daddy grooves for tour-level spin and trajectory control. Both Mickelson and Els helped with input and design of these wedges.
Now owned by Srixon, Cleveland stills maintains its position as the most popular of all wedges in the marketplace.
The CG 14 is marketed as a game improvement club and provides a perfect balance between performance, versatility and forgiveness. Its slight offset makes it easier for the aspiring golfer to hit, especially out of sand traps a.k.a bunkers.
The CG 12 wedge, featuring ZIP grooves, is reported to be the company’s most consistent, precise and visible wedge technology to date.
Wilson Tw9 wedges
These are Padraig Harrington’s wedges for the British Open championship. These are great feeling wedges from one of the oldest brands in the business.
The Tw9 Tour Milled wedges are available in either a satin finish or a black chrome finish. Available lofts are 48°, 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 68° and 60° degrees. The 48°- and 50°-degree versions feature cavity backs and less bounce for greater forgiveness. The higher-lofted wedges are designed in a blade style with more bounce for greater workability from various playing conditions.
Click HERE to See His Accompanying Article On How To Choose The Right Wedge For You…
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry.
He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers”, “How to Build Business Relationships Through Golf” and his current book, “The Right Mind for Golf” is due out in January 2009.
He can be reached at www.pgtaa.com
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his current book, “How to Build Business Relationships Through Golf” is in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list.