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Selecting the Ideal Wedge for Your Shot

Selecting the Ideal Wedge for Your Shot

A quick way to lower your score is to improve your proficiency around the greens. Great short–game players display excellent control of their wedge shots, which reduces the distance of their putts.

Recreational players may carry three or four wedges in their golf bags. But are they sure what each wedge is for and when to use it? Craig Smith, PGA Head Professional at Morris County Golf Club, provides insight on the primary use for each wedge, alternate uses, and times to avoid using a specific wedge.

Pitching Wedge — 45–48 degree loft

A pitching wedge is used for full approach shots for distances of 100 to 130 yards from the green. My pitching wedge carries between 120 and 130 yards, depending on wind conditions or slope.

Use your pitching wedge around the greens for chipping and pitching. These shots will roll out more when they’re hit with less loft, so only use a pitching wedge when you have enough room to hold the green and make sure your next shot is a putt.

Another great use for the pitching wedge is long bunker shots. If you have a long carry and ample room on the green to stop the ball, a pitching wedge can be your best choice.

Keep it in the bag – Avoid chipping or pitching with this club when you’re close to the green with a forced carry (hit over something), such as a greenside bunker. It’s difficult to stop a ball on the green when it’s traveling at a lower trajectory.

Gap Wedge — 50–52 degree loft

The gap wedge is used for full approach shots for distances of 85 to 115 yards from the green. I typically hit my gap wedge 110 to 115 yards.

A gap wedge can also be used to chip or pitch around the greens. More loft on the clubface allows you to hit slightly higher shots that will roll out less than shots hit with a pitching wedge.

Keep it in the bag — Avoid using a gap wedge when your ball is lying in thick rough. Instead, choose a club with more loft.

Sand Wedge — 56 degree loft

The sand wedge is used for greenside bunker shots and full approach shots for distances of 75 to 105 yards from the green. I typically hit my sand wedge 100 to 105 yards.

The sand wedge will create more height and stopping power than your less lofted wedges. Use it to pitch the ball over greenside bunkers from a short distance, or to chip from just off the green.

Keep it in the bag — I don’t recommend using a sand wedge for flop shots and short bunker shots that require extra height and stopping power.

Lob Wedge — 60–64 degree loft

The lob wedge is used for chipping and pitching around the greens and full approach shots for distances of 60-90 yards from the green. It’s one of the most important clubs to carry in your bag because it allows you to hit the ball high from a short distance and stop the ball on the green. My lob wedge carries between 80–90 yards, depending on wind and slope conditions.

A lob wedge can be used from most lies and is the best club in your bag to hit a flop shot. The flop shot requires a very open face to advance the ball a short distance with height. The goal is to stop the ball quickly. The flop shot is ideal from thick greenside rough and when the green is sloping away from you.

I also use my lob wedge for most of my greenside bunker shots.

Keep it in the bag — Avoid using the lob wedge off a tight lie. With very little grass beneath the ball, it can be difficult to get the clubface (and grooves) under it to hit a clean shot. If a forced carry or height is not needed, use a wedge with less loft when hitting off tight lies.

FINAL TIP: For all wedge shots, it’s important to learn how the golf ball reacts off your clubface (height, spin, and run out). It’s different for each player and critical to determining which wedge to pull from your bag.

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