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QA Wedge Bounce Mid-Irons

Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Hello Frank,
You said that you carry a sand wedge with 14 degrees of bounce, but I am not sure what that means exactly. I recently bought a new sand wedge (I dont know what degree of bounce), and during one of my last rounds of golf, I tried to use it for a flop shot, but I hit it over the green and into the water. I guess I did what you said. My question is can you explain what the degree of bounce means.

Dana Quigley
Dana Quigley quizzes Frank about driver grooves on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, June 11 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
It seems that we become so engrossed in talking about these things that we forget to define our terms so that everybody is operating from the same base of knowledge.
The bounce angle is the angle the sole makes with the horizontal when the club is in the normal address position and the shaft is in the vertical plane. This bounce on the club sole acts like a wedge (not the golf club) between the club and the ground, preventing it from digging in after the club first makes contact with the ground.
The bounce is generally only pronounced on the shorter irons. It will be about 1 degree for the 3-iron, gradually increasing to 7 or 8 degrees on the PW. The gap wedge should be about 6 to 8 degrees, while sand wedges run up to 14 degrees. If a lob wedge is not often used from the sand, it should have a bounce of about 6 to 8 degrees. Some larger soled clubs that are designed to be especially forgiving of potential fat shots from the fairways -- so-called Ultra Game Improvement clubs -- have a radius on the sole that does almost the same thing as bounce.
With this in mind, I would recommend for most golfers that they have 14 degrees of bounce on the sand wedge, and about 8 degrees on the PW and gap wedge if you are going to be playing average firmness fairways but no more bounce than 6 to 8 degrees on the lob wedges. Too much bounce on the lob will cause problems off hard fairways or short firm grass around the green. For this shot you dont need bounce, which will literally make the club bounce off the ground and belly the ball over the green as you did Jeff into the lake past the next tee.
If you open the clubface of a wedge you will increase the bounce effect by the same amount you have increased the loft of the face. This is the reason why it is not a good idea to have much bounce on the Lob wedge which is often used in an open position creating more loft than the 60 degrees stamped on the sole.
Hope this helps ..sorry about not explaining bounce before.
I have many unopened boxes of golf balls given to me 5-6 years ago. A golfing buddy has told me not to use these balls, saying they 'go off with age'. I have a very high handicap and don't think it matters. My question to you is - What happens to the flight characteristics golf balls as they age?

Dear Joan,
Because of the construction of golf balls today and over the last five years you really should not have any problem with deterioration from a performance point of view if they have been stored in relatively dry and non extreme temperature conditions. Using these golf balls will certainly not affect your performance measurably however when your handicap is in the single digits you may be able to notice a small difference.
I would suggest, however, that you take advantage of some of the latest ball designs which have been specifically customized for lower swing speeds and better suit a budget where losing golf balls is of some concern.
I personally tested (on the USGA testing devices) balls which I had in my garage, in NJ, for more than 10 years and found that even these wound balls (not as stable as the new multi-layered balls) only lost 1% of their resilience which (as a 5 handicap) I was unable to detect on the course.
Are there certain manufacturers that make irons for the mid-handicap golfers? There is so much advertising and information that it becomes totally confusing.

There certainly are manufacturers that make iron clubs for the average golfer (click here to get a listing of over 300 different clubs for different skill levels)
The average handicap for males in the US is about 16 and the average for females is about 28.
Most manufacturers have clubs designed for the average golfer as their primary line. These are cavity back clubs designed to be forgiving of miss-hits i.e. not on the sweet spot. Except for the professional golfer most of us do not make consistent contact on the sweet spot which is generally on the face in line with the center of gravity (c.g.) . Because of our inconsistencies, iron clubs and in fact all clubs are designed with the weight distributed to the perimeter of the club to increase the MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the head for the average player. For a simple explanation of MOI click here.
Many professionals play with clubs that we categorize as classic. These are not forgiving, but when you hit the sweet spot each time, forgiveness is not what you need. They (the top pros) seem to like the feel, feedback and ability to work the ball that the classic clubs (blades) provide. For the rest of us mortals there are plenty of choices on the list.
I hope this has helped sort things out a little and hit your sweet spot.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email