Gap Wedge has gone from being one of the second-class clubs to one of the most important clubs in the golf bags. But many people are yet unaware of where to use gap wedges and how they are important. More than 90% of the tour pros carry gap wedges in their bag. This has skyrocketed from the 60% majority a decade ago. So what is this mysterious wedge? How far does it hit? Why do we suddenly need gap wedges although things were just fine until now without them? In this post we will answer all those questions and explain why this should be a vital club in your 3-wedge and 4 wedge systems.
What Is A Gap Wedge?
A gap wedge is one that has a loft between that of pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Pitching wedge has a loft of 47-53° whereas sand wedges lie in 54-58° range.
Gap wedges are used to hit shots that fly higher and shorter than a pitching wedge but lower and longer than a sand wedge, hence the intermediate loft. To be precise, it covers the gap in functionality between pitching wedge and sand wedge. Gap wedges are also called Approach wedges or Utility wedges.
What Degree Is A Gap Wedge? How Far Can I Hit A Gap Wedge?
Gap Wedges have loft angles between 50-54°. Their bounce angles range from 0-12°. Gap wedges of lower lofts favor lower bounce because they are used to firmer lies. Higher loft gap wedges approach the function of sand wedges and are hit from softer lies where the ball may have embedded itself. So such gap wedges favor higher bounce angle. Bounce angles are usually depicted by the number of dots on the clubhead.
Usually, men can hit a gap wedge from 70-110 yards. Depending on your capability and swing speed, the length may vary. Women usually average 45- 70 yards with a gap wedge.
Why Is Gap Wedge Important?
Most of the pro coaches and professional golfers will tell you that you should always space out the wedges evenly across the loft range of 47-58°. This makes sure you have all the weapons necessary to make greenside shots in any eventuality. With clubs being more forgiving and players getting more competitive, fairway shots are inching closer to the hole. Pitching wedges can seriously overshoot the hole when used for the approach shot.
The evolution of irons and wedges created the necessity of gap wedges. Earlier the loft angle of matched iron sets used to be spread out over a bigger range. In time the manufacturers started exploiting the insecurities of new players by de-lofting the irons and giving them 2-5 yards extra in distance per degree drop in the loft.
As the irons developed from simple blade-type to cavity-back type, the clubfaces improved. This resulted in higher flights at the same loft angle as the older clubs. To make up for it, the manufacturers reduced the loft of each iron in the set further, thus contracting the range of lofts covered by the irons. Now the pitching wedge and 9-iron have almost the same range(around 47-49°).
Meanwhile, the loft of the sand wedge has remained constant within 54-58°, usually 56°. Since these are meant to dig the ball out of the sand bunkers, there has been no need to alter their loft. This leaves the 49-54° range of lofts unattended. So basically you have no wedge to hit in the 70-110 yards distance. Enter the new-age gap wedge.
How To Hit A Gap Wedge?
Since we have established the importance of the gap wedge, it’s only fair that we explain how to use them:
- Ball Position:
The ball must be set exactly in the middle of your stance for hitting with a gap wedge. If you set it forward in the stance, you’ll hit a fat shot. If it’s far back, you hit a thin shot.
You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your hand should be the tiniest bit forward of the ball.
Stand in the usual address position. The majority of your weight should be on the front foot. Your feet, hips and shoulder should line up
With a gap wedge you should take an almost full swing. In the back swing, your hands should come up to 45° from the shoulder at the top of the arc. Do note that the club should not wrap around the head.
Take a full-fledged downswing in a steep attack. You should be able to hit the ball at the almost bottom of the downswing. You will take a small divot after the impact if you have hit the gap wedge right. In essence, it’s swung the same way as the pitching wedge.
- Here’s a video to help:
The Gap Wedge Conspiracy Theory?
Have the golf manufacturers collectively conspired to make you buy the gap wedge? There are two major points that support this theory:
- Point 1 :
When you buy a set of matched irons, you always get 3-irons to 9-irons and pitching wedge in the set. Gap wedges are never included even though they are crucial clubs and very similar to pitching wedges. Meanwhile, 3-irons are almost obsolete in their use because of how hard they have become to hit. Again, that’s a consequence of the design evolution of the irons and wedges.
- Point 2 :
Gap wedges are made irresistible with their varieties of loft angles and bounce angles and loft-bounce angle combinations. They have been publicized and people find it necessary to carry one. But they have to buy it separately at a higher cost while they pay for the rarely-used 3-iron too. Gap wedges are used much more often on the golf course compared to 3-irons which might be used only once or twice through the 18 holes. That too, if you know how to use the 3-iron.
Unfair as the whole thing seems, we can chalk it down to a consequence of the amalgamation of circumstances. Many golfers want to get better and hit farther without putting in honest practice. And the manufacturers simply used the laziness of such golfers to trick money out of them.
Gap wedge may have started out from a deliberately-created necessity but it makes all the sense to have one in your golf bag now. Pitching wedge and sand wedge alone can leave 30 yards uncovered between them. A gap wedge fills this distance gap and usually peeks out 5-6 times in an average 18-hole game. The aim is to:
- Select your wedges such that they can cover all usual distances you need to hit greenside. This can be done by evenly dividing the loft range i.e. get a
- Pitching Wedge of 48°,
- Gap Wedge of 52°
- Sand Wedge of 56°.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the gap wedge here. Hit share to spread our knowledge and love. Leave us your notes for improvement in the comments below.