How to use a gap wedge
Educate yourself before you buy
Your wedges are some of the most important clubs in the bag. They belong to the “scoring” clubs in a set – the others being the driver and the putter. Wedges can be considered as highly versatile ‘short’ irons. They are used to play high approach shots to the green from different distances, and for delicate short shots just around the green, i.e. chip shots.
Manufacturers offer five basic wedges, and loft is the major difference between them: The pitching wedge has 45-48 degrees of loft. The gap wedge has 50-54 degrees of loft. The sand wedge, used primarily for getting out of bunkers, has 56 degrees of loft. And the loft wedge has 58-60 degrees of loft. The lob wedge has about 64 degrees of loft. Gene Sarazen invented the sand wedge over 70 years ago.
Bounce angle is another difference between wedges. Bounce is determined by the position of the trailing edge of the club head relative to the leading edge of the club head when the club is squarely positioned. Bounce helps the club move through either the sand or the grass and lifts the ball in the air. The pitching wedge has a bounce of angle of between 0-5 degrees. The gap wedge has a bounce angle between 5-12 degrees. The sand wedge has a bounce angle between 10-16 degrees, and the loft wedge has a bounce angle between 0-10 degrees.
Wedges are used for a wide variety of shots close to the green. Most players carry three wedges: the pitching wedge, the sand wedge, and either the gap wedge or the loft wedge. Some players carry four or five wedges. The choice of which wedges to use depends on the lie, the distance from the green, the situation, and the skill of the player with each club.
Key features of a wedge, in addition to loft, are shaft length, lie angle, and bounce
angle. Additional features include sole design, grooves, and materials of construction. Soft materials like carbon steel, nickel, and beryllium copper are common materials used for wedges in addition to softer grades of stainless steel. Groves come in three types-U, V, and square. Tests provide no indication if one type of groove has an advantage over another type.
Oversize vs Traditional Size Club Head
A key decision in choosing a wedge that’s right for you is club head design. Modern technology enables manufacturers to offer wedges with either regular or oversize club heads. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of an oversize club head:
- Added Face Height
- Larger Sweet Spot
- Increased Forgiveness
The added face height is an advantage for many golfers. Players who have problems getting under the ball on shots out of the rough or in the deep sand favor the added face height. The additional height improves ball-striking capabilities because it lessens the chance of digging too deep into the grass or the sand. A larger sweet spot produces a more forgiving club.
Most oversize wedges have a larger sole than usual. The wider sole lowers the club head’s center of gravity (LCG), making it easier to get the ball in the air. The LCG also reduces topping.
The disadvantages of an oversize club head:
- Harder to shape certain shots
- Get entangled in grass approaching impact
Wedges with traditional size club heads enable you to shape your shot. What you gain in club control, however, you lose in forgiveness, because the size of the sweet spot is smaller. Many experienced players favor the traditional size club head. Wedges with traditional size club heads are less likely to get caught up in the grass or sand, making them ideal for hitting out of a trap or the rough.
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