Sand wedges are golf clubs that help you get out of the soup, or rather, sand at the golf course. Don’t we all hate the sand bunkers?
They are difficult to negotiate you literally need a spoon to scoop the golf ball out of one of these. This dreaded hazard was the punishment for wrong estimation before Gene Sarazen stepped in with his amazing brains. He created a ‘Sand Wedge’ that was deemed legal by USGA and R&A regulations. Ditching the concave-face wedge that irked the decision-makers, Sarazen stuck to a straight clubface.
He substantiated the front edge with lead. This reinforced clubface was able to slice the sand and get the ball out of the bunker. And thus Sand Wedge entered the play.
The Different Wedges
There are different types of wedges that differ in their architecture and use. They are ranked here in the increasing order of their lofts.
- Gap Wedge
- Lob Wedge
- Sand Wedge
- Pitching Wedge
- Pitching Wedge: Pitching wedge has the lowest loft amongst all wedges. Since the golf ball travels less distance vertically because of low loft, it covers more horizontal ground. At a loft of 44-50 degrees, pitching wedge can lob the golf ball 110 to 140 yards. It is best used to reach the green.
- Gap wedge: Gap wedge is not popular enough to be part of any standard set. It is an intermediate club between the sand wedge and pitching wedge. If you have to make precision shots in the 90-110 yards range, this wedge will serve you well with 51-53 degree loft.
- Sand Wedge: Sand wedges create a bounce that gets through the sand and hits the golf ball at 54-58 degree loft to raise and throw it out of the sand bunker or trap. With some practice, you can use the same club to hit fairway and greenside bunkers as well. Sand wedges usually average a 80-110 yard distance with a normal swing.
- Lob wedge: Lob wedges are rare and they are used for precise shots near the green. They sport around 60 degree loft. You literally lob the ball high and close with this wedge. When you want to cover less than 80 yards distance and have the ball fly more vertical, lob wedge is handy.
What Wedges Should I Choose?
When you are choosing wedges, it is easy to rely on distance as the deciding parameter. But there are a couple of factors that determine the success of your choice:
- Gap Wedge
- Loft: The loft is the angle of clubface from the club. Loft angle will tell you how high the ball is likely to fly and consequently, what distance it will cover. As explained, sand wedge has higher loft to be able to lift the ball out of the sand trap.
- Bounce: Bounce is the more important parameter that helps to get the ball out of sand traps. It is the angle of the sole to the ground. Wedges with higher bounce will perform better on loose sand. Usually 10-14 degrees of bounce should be enough to navigate sand bunkers.
- Gap Wedge: The gap wedge is usually not given enough credit. We need continuity in lofts. If you have a 48-degree pitching wedge, aim for 52-degree gap wedge and 56-degree sand wedge. This bridging wedge lets you take the approach shots without under using the pitching wedge or swinging the sand wedge harder than usual. Learn more about how to buy golf clubs here.
What Is A Sand Wedge?
A sand wedge has the loft and bounce to clear the sand bunker. It is an open-faced wedge with a wide sole.
This keeps it from getting stuck in the sand. Instead, in one swift motion you can cut through the sand and send the ball into the greens. Due to the customized club face, sand wedges tend to be heavy. They use a shorter shaft too.
Original Of The Sand Wedge
Sand wedges were made popular in 1935 by their inventor, Gene Sarazen. While many manufacturers were struggling to straddle the design rules of USGA and R&A and simultaneously deal with sand bunkers, Sarazen debuted the sand wedge. It sported a flat face instead of the concave design that was considered necessary for sand wedges.
This straight-face managed to get the ball off the sand. Sarazen won many tournaments with his sand wedge and the world took notice.
Design Of The Sand Wedge
As mentioned before, the sand wedge has high loft, basically 54-58 degrees. The other clubs in your golf bag will have their sole parallel to the ground. The leading edge of the sand wedge is lifted off at an angle from the ground. This gives it the necessary bounce to propel the ball from fluffy sand. This architecture adds weight to the club face, making it heavier than the other clubs.
How Special Is A Sand Wedge?
Very. Most golf courses have a sand bunker in and around the green. Only a sand wedge will give you the measured shot that you are aiming for from the sand trap. Its special abilities stem from the fact that:
- It has a 54-58 degree loft. This gives ball enough push to rise out of the bunker and land on the greens. Its short trajectory is perfect to get the ball closer to its final destination.
- The bounce of the sand wedge helps when the ball is buried in the sand. It can dig out the ball without getting its head buried in the sand itself. With a proper shot you can ensure that the club does not push the ball down any further into the sand or mud.
- The weight of the short sand wedge gives the golf ball enough momentum to rise from the sand and leave the sand bunker.
Type of Wedge
46 - 48
58 - 60
51 - 53
54 - 58
Many of us are ignorant about the loft and bounce concepts that equip the sand wedges to deal with sand traps. Without their wide soles and squat faces, we’ll find ourselves very much like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. Pro players also use sand wedge to work their way out of mud and soggy ground too. Sand wedge can lob the ball out of thick lies with high bounce and low spin. It’s the closer, a lot like Harvey Specter. We would trust it, if we were you.