When it comes to a players wedges I often think they are the most undervalued clubs in a player’s artillery. For the average club player you are most likely going to miss at least half of the greens in a round of golf, if not significantly more. Even when it comes to elite players you will most likely miss at least 4 or 5 a round plus you may need the wedges to create birdie opportunities on short par 4’s and par 5’s. When you look at it from this point of view you begin to realise just how important your wedges are in terms of lowering your scores. Despite this the wedges are also the least likely club to be custom fitted to suit the player and their game. This to me is a costly mistake made by most golfers and one that can be easily fixed by understanding what to look for. When it comes to wedge fitting we need to look at:
- What distances do they need to Travel
- Are you a slider or a digger?
- What conditions do you play on?
- Where are you likely to use each wedge
Step 1: Check your distances
To start with we need to find out how far you hit your pitching wedge. The reason we begin with the PW is that it tends to be the most lofted club in most standard golf sets, and we can then reverse engineer the correct combination of wedges for the player. By gaining an understanding of how far a players pitching wedge goes and then looking at how many wedges he can fit into his bag, we can then correctly fit the wedges to suit what he needs for both distance shots and around the greens.
Once we have found out how far your pitching wedge carries we can then begin to introduce the other wedges. Precise distance gapping is a critical step in selecting the best wedge set make-up for your game. Most players will benefit from carrying four wedges which lead to tighter distance gaps and more full swings. Roughly speaking we want to see approximately 10 – 15 yards between each wedge.
Step 2: Are you a slider or a digger?
This is a very simple question which will help us decide on what type of bounce, sole width and camber would be the best to help you strike the ball correctly. Ultimately the question is very simple, do you take a large divot (in which case we would class you as a digger) , or do you normally strike the ball quite cleanly (which would mean we class you as a slider). There is no real advantage to being a digger or a slider, however it is extremely important to understand which type you are when it comes to deciding what wedges to choose.
If you are a slider you should favour a wedge with less bounce, a narrower sole and less sole camber. If you are a digger you should favour a higher bounce wedge, with a wider sole and less camber. For a digger these characteristics will help prevent the club from digging excessively into the ground, for sliders it should make it easier to slide the club underneath the golf ball and create a solid strike.
Step 3: Course Conditions
The type of course and country you play in are also hugely influential on what bounce options you should choose. When it comes to wet or soft golf courses it is important to favour wedges that would suit a digger style (High Bounce), while if you play firm, tightly cut golf courses such as the links courses of Ireland and Great Britain you should favour a wedge that would suit a slider (Low Bounce).
Sand is also something that should be taken into consideration, particularly when it comes to your sand and lob wedges. If you regularly play a golf course with soft, fluffy sand that you can easily dig into and leave in the bunker, a wedge with plenty of bounce and a wide sole will greatly increase your chances of successfully escaping the bunkers, however if you have bunkers with a firm base and very little sand you need something with less bounce to help you “dig” under the golf ball.
When it comes to choosing your wedges always consider the type of course you play most regularly. For tour pro’s they will often have different wedge set up’s for different conditions, while for most golfers there is no need, simply understanding your style and type of course is more than enough.
Step 4: How do you plan on using each wedge?
When it comes to each wedge in your bag they will all have their own individual jobs to do. While some wedges will cross over into other areas, more often than not you will have a particular wedge you like to use for a specific job. This is where we can really fine tune the wedge options in your bag. For the lower lofted wedges in your bag you will generally use them as “distance wedges”, i.e. they will most likely be used to hit a specific distance outside of 50 yards. Meanwhile when it comes to the higher lofted wedges (i.e. 54 degrees or higher, you are far more likely to use these for a variety of shots around a green such as a bunker shot, a standard short pitch shot or even a high lob shot. This is where the “Grind” of the wedge plays a key role. For example if you want to open up any particular wedge it would be a good idea to have some relief on the back edge, similar to the S,M,L, or T grinds below. These grinds allow players to open or alter the lie and shaft angle of a particular club without the leading edge sitting up too much off the ground.
Before you buy your next set of wedges make sure you go for a proper fitting, find out how far you hit the PW, identify what type of player you are, and test the variety of different wedge options available.