The Wedge – The Scoring Weapon of Tour Players
Next to the putter, wedges are the second most important group of clubs in the bag to consider having custom fit when it comes to the effect of fitting on your score. There is no better proof of the importance of wedge performance than a quick look at the statistics of the European Tour and PGA Tour. The average Tour player hits 11 to 12 greens in regulation per round yet still shoots par or better. How? By more consistently getting the ball close enough to the hole with their wedges to have the best chance to make the putts for par to save their round.
When being custom fit for the best wedges for your game, specifications such as wedge loft, lie, length, sole width and sole angle are certainly important. But what most golfers don’t know is that choosing wedges on the basis of the design and condition of the course(s) they play is very important for getting the complement of wedges that improve their ability to “get the ball up and down” more often.
The fluffier and/or deeper the sand in the bunkers, the wider the sole and/or the more bounce sole angle is typically required on the sand wedge. Conversely, the more coarse and shallow the sand, the more narrow the sole and/or the less bounce sole angle you should have on your sand wedge. These points are true because the wider the sole and more bounce on the sole, the more the sole can resist traveling deep into the sand.
In addition, it is very important to evaluate the golfer’s swing technique for sand shots. The more steeply the wedge is swung down to the sand, (the more downward the angle of attack) the deeper the sole could dig under the ball. Hence the more steep the golfer’s angle of attack, the wider the sole and/or the more bounce should be on the sole of their sand club. Do keep in mind that sole width and bounce are not magic features; golfers who tend to swing too steep into the sand are advised to take a lesson or two to learn how to shallow out the club as it enters the sand.
For longer grass and softer turf around the greens as well as the more “creeping grasses” like Bermuda and Kikuyu found in hot weather climates, the wider the sole and the more bounce sole angle your wedges should be. Likewise, the shorter the grass, the “tighter” the lies, or more firm the turf around the greens, the less bounce sole angle and/more more narrow the sole should be on the wedges. In addition a feature such as the “zero bounce heel” that Wishon Golf designs on many of its wedges can be of help when opening the face to hit a cut finesse shot from short grass/tight lies.
The more elevated the greens, the steeper the bunker faces, the smaller the greens and the more undulating the greens (multiple tiered greens), the more loft should be advised on the wedges to help golfers get the ball well up to have a better chance to stop the ball on the tier on which the hole is cut. For flatter, less rolling greens, conventional or slightly lower lofts are better on the wedges to encourage enough “release and run-up” to the hole.
The loft angle between each wedge should not be less than 3 degrees, or more than 6 degrees unless the player is carrying a wedge for a very specific type of shot. This way the golfer always has a club for the distance of ¾ to full swing shots and they’ll not have to risk “over-hitting” a wedge, a practice which can destroy wedge accuracy. Always, always have the lie angles of your wedges fit dynamically not statically. Because wedges have more bounce, the lie board method of lie fitting is not recommended. Instead use the “ink line on the back of the ball method” for determining the correct lie for all your wedges. The more the lie is off from being accurately custom fit, the more off-line you’ll hit the wedges. If you want to score better, make sure your search for your perfect custom fit golf clubs always includes accurate clubfitting analysis of the wedges.