Unlike your irons and driver, your choice of wedges will be much more determined by personal preference. Learning how to properly use your wedge across a variety of shots is vital for improving your short game and, once mastered, will lead to much lower scores. Most players carry 3 to 4 wedges to give themselves a versatile range of shots depending on their skill level and the difficulty of the course. While the pitching wedge is the most commonly used among beginner golfers (and will almost always feature in a beginner set), the other wedges are just as useful in different situations. Below is our quick guide to the different wedges and the 3 wedge shots you need to know.

Pitching Wedge (PW)

Typical loft degree range: 44° to 49°

Bridging the gap between your irons and your higher loft wedges, the pitching wedge is usually used for shots around the 100-yard mark. Closest in feel to a 9-iron and a great warm-up club, the pitching wedge is one of the most versatile clubs in your bag. It can be used for full-swing shots (average distance is 100 to 105 yards), pitching shots, knockdown shots, chipping, and bump and run shots. Getting comfortable with a pitching wedge is one of the most effective ways for amateurs to improve their short game and bring their course numbers down, as it provides a greater degree of control.

Gap Wedge (GW)

Typical loft degree range: 48° to 52°

Filling the distance between your pitching wedge and sand wedge, your gap wedges give you more options on your approach to the green. Most golfers will include a gap wedge in their bag as it gives them greater precision on shots under 100 yards and is useful for out-of-the-rough shots near the green. Like the pitching wedge, the gap wedge is very versatile, giving a good golfer a wide range of shots to choose from.

Sand Wedge (SW)

Typical loft degree range: 54° to 58°

Though many beginner sets don’t include this club, a sand wedge is one of the most useful clubs to have in your bag. As the name suggests, a sand wedge is mainly used to get your ball out of a bunker. The wide sole and heavier weight give players much more control in difficult terrain, which also makes it a good choice for getting out of heavy rough. Another reason the sand wedge is such an effective club is due to the bounce on the bottom of the club. This allows players to make higher shots than a pitching wedge or gap wedge, and the increased bounce also makes it an effective club for getting out of deep rough.

Lob Wedge (LW)

Typical loft degree range: 58° to 64° range

Lob wedges are the most specialized of the wedges as they allow players to hit the ball high and stop quickly. For many high handicappers, a lob wedge is not recommended due to the higher opportunity for error and the need for greater accuracy when striking the ball. A lob wedge is often used when players need a 30-50-yard shot over an obstacle or are chipping to a tight pin. Hitting a shot high will decrease the amount of roll, and if you hit the ball with enough backspin, you can use it to roll the ball back to the pin.

3 Wedge Shots You Should Master

The wedge can be used for a wide range of shots. Here are the most common you need to master in order to seriously improve your short game.

Bunker Shot

The wedge shot that all players will find themselves facing at some point and a shot that quickly turns a potential birdie into a quadruple bogey nightmare. The sand wedge is the most commonly used wedge for this type of shot, but depending on the position of the bunker in relation to the pin, you may want to use a different wedge. To avoid shanking the balls and finding themselves stuck in the sand, players should increase their knee bend and get lower, put their weight on the lead side, and make sure they hit the sand first before the ball.

Chip Shot

A good chip shot will usually get the ball on the green and roll it as close to the pin as possible. The distance to the pin and the terrain will determine the type of wedge you will use, but most players will use a gap wedge for longer chips rather than a pitching wedge as it is easier to get the ball airborne. There are many different ways to play a chip shot, depending on what you want the ball to do, though most golfers will only learn to hit a basic low chip shot and a high chip shot. To keep the ball low, put the ball in line with your lead arm armpit, keep the feet closer together, and put all the weight on the lead foot. Bring the club back to just where the wrist begins to hinge and then hit behind the ball, keeping your arms straight. A chip shot with more height requires the feet to be a little wider, with the ball a little further back.  Your back swing will be three-quarters of a full swing with the weight still on your front foot. For a chip with more backspin, you should put the ball closer to your trail foot.

Flop Shots

A flop shot, also known as a lob shot, stops the ball quickly once it hits the green. It is a challenging shot that requires a lot of practice to master, but it will pay dividends on the course. This trick shot is usually played for 10-20-yard shots with minimal green to aim for. In order to hit a flop shot, the lie must be either on the fairway or very light rough, any other conditions and you risk hitting the ball too high or chunking it. The face of the club needs to be open, and you should aim to the left of the target. Most of your weight should be on your left foot, and the ball needs to be near your lead foot. The trick with your backswing is to hinge your wrist as quickly as possible.

If you are looking to improve your short game and are unsure which wedge to choose, we hope the above article proves useful.