Wedge Play & What Is Bounce?
By KorryFranke on 5/22/07
Question: What is bounce and what the heck does it have to do with my golf game?

Any golfer who has played a few rounds most likely has visited them at least once. Heck, some of us (myself included) seem to visit them quite frequently! And when you find yourself trying to get out of one, it's hard to stop thinking, "Well... this is gonna get interesting!" I'm talking, of course, about a sand trap.

Course designers love to put bunkers in our way on almost every shot. I can almost imagine the designers sitting around in a dark, smoke-filled room tapping their fingers together and bellowing loud, evil laughs as they meticulously plan one trap after another, carefully placing them next to another green or just off a fairways edge where an errant tee shot or approach shot gone bad may be gobbled up quickly and effortlessly... some never to be seen again!

Ok, maybe I exaggerate slightly. Forgive me. It's just that getting out of a sand trap sometimes can be more challenging than escaping the pull of a black hole! The good news is that with practice, supposedly the sand shot can become one of the easiest ones to master. Pros even say they'd rather hit from the sand trap than the rough. I'll leave that for you to decide. For today, I'll just stick with a topic that may help you choose a better sand wedge, or wedge in general, to master that sand trap or close-in approach shot. And one of the keys is what they call "Bounce."

When you hear bounce, you probably envision a basketball or something like that. The truth is that the type of bounce we're talking about has little to do with bounciness. Bounce, in terms of a golf club, refers to the angle formed between the leading and trailing edges of the wedge sole. We're talking about the bottom of the club, the pointy part. You may think that the leading edge of the sole is the closest part of the club to the ground, but if you pick up an iron (or especially a wedge) and look carefully at it, you'll notice that when addressing the ball, the club actually rests not on the pointy part, but on the part where most clubs have the number and name of the make. This trailing edge of the sole actually sits ever so slightly lower than the pointy part, the leading edge. The angle formed between the ground and the slope from the sole's leading edge to its trailing edge is known as the "bounce angle."

So what's all the fuss about bounce and how can it help (or hurt) your game? Well, that most likely depends on what type of courses and shots you tend to play. The more bounce a wedge has, the more it will resist digging into the sand or deep rough. This is because the greater the bounce angle, the more drag the club head will have as it moves through the sand or thick rough. Therefore, it will tend to stay nearer the surface and allow you to hit the ball more cleanly, setting you up perfectly for that sandy par! On the other hand, if you're trying to hit off the fairway, a high bounce angle will mean that the blade of the club will rest higher off the ground than if it were a low bounce angle... and that may cause your club to "bounce" off the ground and strike higher up on the ball creating the dreaded "blade" shot. Yikes!!

Most clubs are manufactured with a moderate amount of bounce to accommodate the greatest number of possible scenarios an average golfer is likely to encounter. So for most of us, the issue of bounce has little bearing on our game. But for the pro, having the right club with just the right amount of bounce can make all the difference in the world. And the "right" amount of bounce for the professional most likely changes from day to day depending on which course he or she plays.

Yet as with anything relating to golf, it seems that practice, practice, and more practice are the true keys to mastering sand shots, close approach shots, and chip shots. As a golfing buddy of mine recently told me, "It ain't the club!" The science and engineering in a club can only get you so far. The rest, unfortunately, comes from hard work. That said, if any of you do happen to find the key to a great short game and it's something other than practice, practice, and more practice, PLEASE let me know! Until then, if you want to blame that blade shot or poor sand shot on your club simply having too much or too little bounce, well, I promise I won't tell!!

Thanks for the great question, Jeremy. If any of you have a question about the game, ask away!

Email Korry your questions at

Korry Franke is a Boeing 757 and 767 pilot for Continental Airlines where he flies out of Newark, NJ to destinations across the US and around the globe. He lives in Bethlehem, PA where he spends most of his time on days off at the driving range or out on the golf course giving his game the practice it so desperately needs.

[ comments ]
jdaly says:
good article. can't wait to get out again and try this new wedge. After reading this, I guess my lob wedge would be a low-bounce club. At least I think so...
volleyhart says:
Thanks Korry. I was hoping you'd give me insight into exactly what club I needed to buy, not tell me to "practice, practice, practice." If practice ain't good enough for Allen Iverson, it ain't good enough for me.
H2Okie says:
Allen Iverson? We are talking about golf, little ball, little hole, not big ball big hole.
Kurt the Knife says:
As a matter of fact regarding bunker placement, I remember reading at BethPage that the desingers looked at one hole where average tee shots were landing over time and placed a bunker there.

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