How Many Wedges is Right . . . For You!?
As you might imagine, this is one of the most common questions we get at EIDOLON, as we talk with dozens of players a week about this very subject. And the answer is always different, as it depends on many factors. I chose this topic this morning in response to a question from Charles, who asked:
It seems like there are two schools of thought about just how many wedges the average amateur should carry. One school suggests that 3-4 wedges (PW, GW, SW, LW, for example) is just too many for most amateurs, who should limit their wedges to 2 or 3 at the most. This simplifies the options for the golfer, and in theory, forces the golfer to develop more touch in the short game. The converse, of course, is to have as many wedges as you are comfortable carrying, whether that's 3, 4, or even 5. What do you recommend, Wedge Guy?Well, Charles, that’s a question that has as different answer for every golfer, and the key is to find the right solution for you. It’s a multi-step Q&A process.
First, you need to determine each end of your wedge selection. On the lower end, know what the true loft is of your set-match “P club”. If you’ve read much “WedgeGuy”, you know that I refuse to call these 43-46 degree, renamed 9- and even 8-irons “pitching wedges”, because they are not. So unless you are playing a more traditional blade iron “P club” with a loft of at least 48 degrees, don’t count it as one of your “wedges”.
Secondly, determine the highest loft wedge you are comfortable playing. For some, it’s a wedge of 64 degrees or more. For others, it’s in the 57-58 range. As I watch the weekly “what’s in the bag” reports from the tours, it seems more and more of these guys are carrying a 58 as their highest lofted club, and getting away from the 60. That’s probably due to the performance difference with the new grooves, but I’ll save that for another column.
Once you determine the two ends of the spectrum you are trying to fill, then you should build a matched set of scoring tools to fill that big gap. If you are a long hitter, or if you do not want to have to manipulate too many shots with each club, I believe loft differences between wedges should be three degrees. That will give you tighter full swing distance intervals, and more options around the greens. A set makeup of 48/51/54/57, with a 60 if you’d like, could be perfect.
On the other hand, if you are shorter in distance, and don’t mind gripping down and monitoring swing speed and backswing length, then you can get away with fewer scoring clubs. In this case, you probably have one of these stronger “P clubs” and so your wedge make-up might be 47/52/57, with possibly a 61 . . . or something similar.
Whichever route you take, I am a firm believer that the shafts on the wedges “on the rack” are too heavy and too stiff for nearly all players. For optimum performance, your wedge shafts should be designed just for wedges, and they should match your iron shafts in material, weight and overall flex.
Either buy wedges from a company that will give you the option to do that (like EIDOLON maybe???), or have major brand wedges rebuilt with new shafts that will give you the performance you seek.
I hope that answers your questions, and I feel certain the readers are going to chime in with lots of additional advice. Guys???
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[ comments ]
SD Charlie says:
Woohoo! my question was chosen! I was already thinking about it, after reading your column, I'm going to follow your advice. I chose a 57º wedge with a firm flex steel shaft. I can't wait to try it out.
This a no brainer for me. I find that with the exact same half-swing pitch, I get distances of 100-90-80-70-60-52-45 with 7i-8i-9i-PW-GW-SW-LW. I can reduce each by about 5 yards by choking way down. Note that this way I never have to take a full swing wedge shot unless I am digging out of something. This makes short approach shots a no brainer and it is ALOT easier to get within 1-putt distance this way than from a full swing wedge! I do miss the 3-iron I sacrificed for the extra wedge, but scoring wise it's the way to go.
FYI: I sneak out to the 2nd fairway at my local course an hour before sunset to practice these shots. They are surprisingly easy to pull off if you just practice a little bit....
i have a 47* pw, i have a 52,56,60* wedges. I would like to get stronger lofted irons with a pw of 46, and play a 50,54,58* but that will be another day. I think 4 wedges is perfect. I carry only one fairway wood,3W, and 2 hybrids and start my irons at 5I. i see a lot of players on tour with a setup like this but with usually only 1 hyrbid or none as they can hit the long irons unlike myself.
Terry, I would think with supposedly "less spin", pros would carry more loft for softer landings? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on why less loft.
Bryan K says:
I carry three official wedges....50, 55, and 60 degree. My PW is 46 degrees, and the gaps get incrementally smaller as the clubs get longer.
I carried two different 55* wedges at the end of last year because I just coudln't get the one I hit out of the deep rough to work out of the sand...and vice versa. The switch to Eidolon will hopefully fix that.
I have a 46 P, a 50G, 52W bent a degree to 53 and a 56. The P and G are Taylormade Tour burners, the 52 and 56 are Taylormade Z Tp Wedges with Rifle Shafts. I think it is perfect for my game. 135, 125, 115, 100. I just choke down if I need to get to 120 or 110.
@mschad i've read where with the new grooves and less volume the ball tends to slide up the face more with that high of loft causing inconsistency in shots
Was 46*PW-50*-56*-60* but a few weeks ago, started carrying 9-club bag. Now using 9i, 50 and 56. 125-and-in is best part of my shabby game and even playing all these part shots now, I am as accurate as before, with same low trap shot w lots of spin. Maybe better because I am playing *feel* shots, concentrating on results rather than picking a caliber and taking a full swing.
Bryan K says:
Windosurfer: Gotta be honest...I don't think I'll ever trust my game with a "feel shot". There are so many optical illusions on a golf course, I never trust my eyes anymore.
But I'll be frank and say that perhaps one of the biggest flaws I have with my short game RIGHT NOW is the fact that I've used so dang many wedges. I never seem to know my distances if I'm in that magical range that's too far away to chip and too close to take a full swing with any club.
I play a 45 PW (from the iron set), I added a 51° GW Eidolon, recently added (which is great by the way), and a 56° SW, I have about 20 yds gap between each, I choke down to get the "in between" yardage. I've actually been able to shape my short shots better with 3/4 and half swing with my 51° than with my 56°, that one is very effective on flops and sand bunkers.
@ Bryan K: know what u mean. I play a links course with only a few visual tricks, plus u get 2 know the ones that r there. But this summer, I'm sure to get beat up by unfamiliar courses and their sneaky lay-outs. Still, I like playing part wedge + iron shots; gets my head in the game. Gotta vis-u-a-lize + feel it.
kingwood hacker says:
I'm playing 4 "wedges". My 47* PW from my iron set(mizuno mp68s), a 52* cleveland cg14, a 56* eidolon (best wedge in the bag), and a 60* callaway x forged. I'm considering having my PW bent to 48* this season, because my gap between my PW and 9i is closer than my gap to my 52*. But essentially from 120 in to about 75 I have a full shot with my wedge. My ideal distance to lay up on par 5s is 85 yards, because that's a full 56* which I can execute about 9/10 times. I hit one of those last week to about 18 inches, which makes the birdie putt a little easier.
kingwood hacker says:
btw, I took my 2 hybrid out to put in the 4th wedge. Don't miss it at all. I only have a 3 wood, 3 hybrid, then start my irons at 4i. If the rough is nasty, sometimes I take out the hybrid and put in the 3i.
I play municipal 9 hole "Executive 3's". I took out all woods/hybrids.
Irons Titlist Ap1 (some game improvement with feel) are 6,7,8,9,P,W (really 6-11)
Wedges are Cleveland 588's: 49, 53, 56(S), 60, 64.
The Cleveland 49 and Titlist AP1 50 while one degree apart are completely different clubs. The AP1 ""wedges"" is better with a full swing from the T's, while a traditional wedge is better working the ball.
Fringe and fairways allow a putter to be used. I expect to end up with two putters, for off and on the green. If the greens get faster I will need a Pool Cue.
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