The wedges - bringing the good course score to the green

Published on   2022-01-03 by Kai

The tee shot is successful, the fairway almost overcome with good feeling, the green is within reach. Now it gets exciting again.

Before reaching for the putter, the ball has to be placed well, i.e. as close to the hole as possible. The wedges help with this. The standard equipment includes two of them: the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. To complete the package, there is also the Gap and Lob wedge.

All of these clubs are designed not to achieve great distances, but rather to land the ball as close to the hole as possible through a relatively high parabolic flight and then roll as little as possible.

Loft is crucial

This parabola is achieved by a relatively clear inclination of the club head, called loft. The greater this loft, i.e. the angle from the absolutely vertical measurement in the direction of the horizontal, the shorter but also higher the ball flies with the same swing with the club.

For comparison: a putter, through which a ball should only roll and not leave the ground, has a loft of 2 to 4 degrees on average, a driver between 9 and 13 degrees, the irons then increasingly from about 24 to 44 degrees inclination from the vertical measured today. However, there is no standard measurement, each manufacturer determines this for itself.

It should also be noted that the loft has decreased in all clubs in recent years. This means that a player is virtually fooled into thinking he has more distance when, for example, the ten-year-old set of clubs is exchanged for a new one.

More distance is not necessarily down to the player

Suddenly, the ball flies farther with the 9-iron than it did before, but this has nothing to do with an improvement in the player's technique, but rather with a lower loft with the presumably "same" 9-iron. One should not be deceived here. More on the problem caused by this "loft shift" below.

First, let's look at standard wedges: the pitching wedge, probably the most common of the wedge types, is most often used on approach shots to the hole, i.e., shots from the fairway to the green. It has an average loft value between 47 and 50 degrees and is mainly fully swung and needed for longer chips.

The sand wedge, with an average loft of 56 degrees, is used only reluctantly, as it is mostly used for rescue shots from the bunker. It produces a relatively high arc, but little distance in the ball flight. Balls that lie just short of the green line are also often played with it, unless there is also a lob wedge in the bag.

If you want to control your ball flight even more precisely, you will increasingly opt for a lob wedge with 60 to 64 degrees of loft. This club can also do a good job from the rough. However, a certain amount of practice is required here, and this club is not (yet) suitable for beginners.

The problem of the loft shift

Due to the above-mentioned loft shift in the irons and an adaptation to it in the pitching wedge, golfers also like to take another wedge into the bag, the gap wedge, which is supposed to compensate for the increasing loft distance between pitching and sand wedge and is located between the two standard clubs with a loft between 51 and 55 degrees.

In general, the performance of the wedges is nothing to sneeze at. On the contrary, around two-thirds of all shots in golf take place within a radius of around 100 meters of the hole, i.e. precisely in the wedges' area of application.

They should therefore not be neglected when practicing. After all, even the most fantastic tee shot with a driver and the subsequent wonderfully long iron shots can quickly be ruined by an unsuccessful short game around the hole. On the scorecard, the poor handling of the wedges then becomes quickly and painfully visible.

Previous article in the series: The putter - a question of form

Next article in the series: The irons - all in one sentence

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