Driver and iron fitting are very popular these days with the technology available for club fitters, but wedge fitting is commonly overlooked. We will discuss the advantages of a certain type of wedge, set make-up, and the technological advantages of specific manufacturers. The wedges below are two of the most popular wedges on the PGA Tour.
Lets discuss set make-up first. One of the first decisions the golf channel viewers should make is to decide which wedge combinations to purchase and their corresponding lofts.
Manufacturers in the late 1980s started to make all their lofts stronger on the irons. Why? Improved technology with lower centers of gravity, shaft technology, and ball design produced higher trajectories, in addition to the average golfers desire for more distance. Current manufacturers lofts are stronger on the average of 3-5 degrees from traditional lofts. With the loft trends in mind, a new club emerged over 20 years ago = gap wedge. The sand wedge has remained close to the same loft 55-56 degrees, but pitching wedge lofts have strengthened to 46-48 degrees. The gap wedge loft average is 51-52 degrees. Below is a chart of wedge average wedge lofts. The goal of the club fitter is to recommend a set of wedges with no yardage gaps. This would equate to a 4-5 degree loft increment between each wedge.
Pitching WedgeGap Wedge Sand Wedge Lob Wedge
David Pelz may recommend a 64 degree x-wedge, but you can create well over 80 degrees of loft by opening a lob wedge up. I am a big believer in the versatility of the lob wedge.
Advantages of a lob wedge:
1)The Lob wedge offers a lower bounce angle. Great out of tight fairway conditions/hardpan inside 60 yards of the green.
2)The increased swing speed with the higher loft will also produce more spin.
3)Bounce is created by opening the blade, combined with the widest sole, offers a fantastic advantage in greenside bunkers.
4)Flop and lob shots are easier to accomplish: The wider sole avoids digging and the lower bounce keeps the leading edge closer to the surface.
I would recommend this 4 wedge system for many golfers. The high handicapper who adds loft at impact with a scoop may be better of leaving the lob wedge out of the bag, as a result of his/her increased dynamic loft at impact.
Also, understand that if you go from a three wedge system to four, the golfer will sacrifice one of his/her longer irons, fairway woods, or hybrids. The students entire game should be analyzed to determine where in the bag the weakest link occurs: Is it the short game, or the tee shot and longer approach shots.
Once the proper wedge make-up is determined with the proper lofts, we have resolved half of the golfers battle = distance control.
Higher bounce is recommended when:
1)Your divots are deep = digger (steeper angle of approach)
2)Course conditions are softer and deep rough
3)Bunkers have a lot of sand and the sand is softer with a lighter appearance
4)Your lie angle testing indicates a sole impact on the leading edge: You can see your local PGA Golf Professional for this evaluation.
Lower bounce is recommended when:
1)Your divots are shallow = picker (shallow angle of approach)
2)Dry and firm course conditions
3)Firm bunkers with sand that is generally darker in appearance
4)Lie angle testing indicates a sole impact on the trailing edge
Innovative Wedge Designs, Materials, and Finishes
Sole grinds ' A second grind is added at the trailing edge. Usually at a 30-45 degree angle. This assists in reducing the bounce when opening the face at address. Very good technology on wider soles = lob wedges. Triple grinds, I am not a big believer, especially for bunker shots = not enough dynamic bounce.
Face milling ' Titleist Vokey has become a major wedge player in the market with this technology. And yes, the USGA approved it. Technology = computer milled etchings cut diagonally from the scoring lines. Would you like to add more spin to your wedge shots, and spin it back like the pros? I highly recommend this technology, and I am sure more manufacturers will develop wedges with face milling in the future.
Box/Zip grooves ' Cleveland recently redesigned the classic box/square shaped grooves with the USGA approval. Clevelands answer to the wedge spin contest will revolve around their newly designed zip grooves. They claim the grooves are effectively 25% larger. What they did was square off the bottom side of the grooves.
Materials ' I would highly recommend a softer metal. Carbon steel allows for the player to feel the impact position better. This also helps the player have a better feel for distance control.
Finishes ' Non glaring finishes have also become very popular. Any type of glare reduction from the sun has to allow the golfer to focus better.
4.Raw / Rusty