What Wedges You Should Carry In Your Golf Bag
Being a golf lover myself I understand the helpless feeling of carrying every single wedge, wood, and club I own in my golf bag, but that I’m not allowed to do so, since legally you can only carry fourteen clubs in your golf bag. Exceeding this number would make you go against the rules of golf and thus have unpleasant consequences. In this article we’ll talk about what wedges you should carry in your golf bag; which combination is the best, and what other clubs should go along with them. Keep on reading.
The 14 Clubs Rule
Now that it’s established that you can only carry 14 clubs in your golf club at a time, it becomes important to know which wedges you need to carry and which can have a rest back in your garage. The number of putters, wedges, and woods you carry doesn’t have to be definite; rather you can have them in any combination as long as it doesn’t exceed 14. Two main factors, along with some other reasons, determine the clubs you should carry- especially wedges. These two significant factors are:
- The player’s personal preference
- His/her skill at golf and level of expertise
Whatever wedge you may choose to carry, the truth of the matter is that wedges play a crucial role in helping you play a better game. This fact is true for both golf professionals as well as casual weekend players. Wedges are placed in such limelight because they’re so important for anyone's short game. Most of the games being played these days are from a distance of 100 yards or even less. This short game goes a long way in enabling you to become an accomplished golfer.
For the Beginners Out There
We have been going on about how important wedges are for your game. However, the first question any newbie would ask is what are wedges in the first place and why are they used?
Lofts with angles ranging from 45 to 60 degrees are generally known as wedges. Wedges tend to be heavier as compared to other irons and thus whether you are playing from grass or sand, the trajectory you end up with would be higher.
Now that you know what wedges are, it is important to get acquainted with the four basic types of wedges present out there. This knowledge would help you decide which wedges would suit your game and thus which ones you ought to carry.
The Four Primary Types of Wedges
1. Pitching Wedge
Pitching wedge or PW is generally deployed for longer shots. It has such a spin that will make the ball stop as soon as it lands. The amount of bounce this wedge has is also very minimal conjugated with a loft of approximately 45 to 50 degrees.
Moreover, the design of a pitching wedge also closely resembles that of irons, so it can also be considered a pretty heavy iron of scale 10. Pitching wedges are great if you want to pitch shots from within a range of almost 60 yards. However, if you deploy the normal full swing you have then it is very much possible to get the ball across at a wider range measuring from 90 up to 130 yards.
A pitching wedge is a very useful club and tends to be very handy in all golf clubs no matter what the location, length, or conditions might be.
2. Gap Wedge
Next on the list is the gap wedge. It can be best understood with the analogy of a gap wedge bridging the gap/gulf present between the sand wedge and the pitching wedge. A gap wedge is mostly used for hitting shots that are almost 10 to 15 yards less on the scale as compared to those hit by the pitching wedges. However, at the same time the shots hit by the gap wedge have a range that is greater by 10 to 15 yards as compared to the shots hit by sand wedges.
Bluntly put, there is a gap between the pitching wedge that has a loft of 46 degrees and a sand wedge having a loft of 55 degrees. The gap thus present amounts to almost 20 to 30 yards. This implies that if the golfer is using a pitching wedge then he/she will have to take a partial swing. This is a pretty complex and difficult thing to do and not every golfer can successfully do this.
This problem can be evaded and the yardage gap can be eliminated by using a gap wedge. Furthermore, not only is this gap eliminated but your pitching wedge and sand wedge shots also become more consistent.
The gap wedge with its loft angle of 50/52 degrees is also commonly termed as the approach wedge since it takes care of the angle difference between PW and SW.
3. Sand Wedges
One important feature that defines a sand wedge and sets it apart from all other wedges is the plenitude of bounce it offers. This wedge is extremely helpful, especially if you are making a hit from the bunkers since it allows avoiding the danger of digging in.
In fact, the name itself supports the use it is made for. The ‘sand’ wedge is best for use in ‘sand’ and thus it is no rocket science that it works best when hitting from bunkers. It has a loft angle ranging from 54 to 58 degrees and is very popular for short game.
Despite being on its best while playing from bunkers, sand wedges can also be deployed to execute both chip and pitch shots. You would also be able to use a SW to make shots having a full swing as long as you stay within a yard range of 40 to 60 yards.
4. Lob wedge
Lob wedges are mostly used to make high shots given its loft angle of 60 to 64 degrees, however, these shots cover a smaller distance. These wedges are deployed for when your ball sticks to the green. Other situations where this wedge can be used include circumstances when you yourself are near the green, but there are obstacles in the way such as a bunker, bush, water etc., which prevents you from pitching or chipping the shot.
This shot is made by the lob wedge. Having a high trajectory but short distance it is also known as a ‘flop shot’. The best execution of flop shots is only possible through lob wedges.
Furthermore, the distance covered by this flop shot or the distance you can possibly cover while using a lob wedge amounts to approximately 40 to 60 yards.
Follow a Formula
Now that you have become acquainted with the basic type of wedges out there, it is time to answer the confusion that we began with. The question is what wedges should you carry?
To help you answer this question and take you out of this dilemma, we have fashioned a formula that will take care of the 14 club limit while enabling to be self-sufficient and on your ease while playing your game. The formula goes like this:
- 8 Irons
- 3 Woods
- 2 Wedges
- 1 Putter
The formula makes sense while paying heed to the 14 club limit. However, it gives rise to another question. What are the two wedges you ought to carry in your golf bag?
Wedge Combination for Beginners
If you are newbie at golf, having only a pitching wedge in your arsenal, then adding a sand wedge to it makes the most sense. The sand wedge with its loft angle of 54 to 58 degrees would take care of most of your concerns.
This doesn’t imply that other wedges aren’t important, but considering your lack of experience in the game, it’s important that you first take some time to improve your game using these wedges. Once you have done that and are now really looking forward to improve and polish your short game, you should then explore other options.
As a beginner though, a sand wedge conjugated with a pitching wedge ought to be enough for you.
The 4 Wedge System
But then again each wedge has its distinct characters and range. It depends upon your game, the shots you want to hit, and the range you want to have.
If you do not feel comfortable while playing with only a PW and a SW, then you may go for the 4 wedge system, however always keep the 14 club rule in the forefront.
The 4 wedge system is very simple. It helps you to have appropriate gaps between clubs. The 4 wedge makes the attainment of these ideal gaps possible by having even gaps between loft angles.
You start with a pitching wedge having a loft angle of 46 degrees. Then a gap wedge with a loft angle of 50 degrees is added, followed by a sand wedge of 54 degrees, and a lob wedge of 58 degrees.
Having knowledge of wedge specifications can also enable you to decide which wedges you ought to carry in your golf bag.
First specification to look for is the loft angle. This is the angle between the club’s face and its shaft. The more upward the club’s face is, the greater the angle would be. This implies that the shots would have a higher trajectory, would make a soft landing, but would cover lesser distance. Thus, the upward pointing of lob wedge would be highest, followed by the gap wedge, sand wedge, and finally the pitching wedge.
Bounce is the angle between the club’s sole and the ground at the time of address. There is a great range in the bounce angle too as it varies from 4 to 14 degrees.
If the angle is higher, then it means that the wedge would have more bounce. If the wedge would have more bounce then it means that when you strike the ball, it would be digging less into the sand or whatever the turf might be;
- If the sand you are playing on is fluffy or the turf you are playing on has long grass, then higher bounce would work best in such conditions.
- In contrast, lower bounce is adequate for such conditions whereby the sand on which you are playing is compact or the grass is short. Such conditions are also termed as ‘tight lies’.
The wedge’s finish is also an important specification to be taken into consideration. It refers to the finish of the surface of the club’s metal head and is mostly referred to in aesthetic terms. However, along with its aesthetic functions, it also has an impact on the extent of the ball’s gripping spin.
Wedge finishes vary and can be found in different substances such as chrome, nickel, satin, metal etc. If the wedge has a rusty finish then it means that at the time of impact, its grip would be more potent.
A Bit of Advice
We would suggest you to be ethical and fair in your game and this means that you should be content to carry 14 clubs in your golf bag. You can refer to the formula we gave for guidance. Carrying just a pitching and a sand wedge in your golf bag ought to be sufficient for you, especially if you are not a specialist of short game.
You can explore options to fulfill the need of other wedges. For instance, you could use an iron instead of a pitching wedge since it resembles the former anyhow. Or you could fill the ‘gap’ created by the absence of ‘gap wedge’ by using your pitching wedge to make a quarter or half swing.
The Final Word
If you are able to take care of all your wedge requirements by using only two wedges then it gives you space to explore other club options and combinations. On the other hand if you opt to replace any other club from your bag (iron/wood) then your long game is going to be affected. So why go for this option when you can easily perform well in your short game by having 2 wedges in your golf bag. However, you need to be very smart and shrewd while making this decision.