What's In A Name - Managing Your Gaps
This is a topic about which we are engaged daily with EIDOLON customers and those looking at our wedges – the subjects of lofts and gaps between scoring clubs. What drove this as the subject for today’s article was the question from Mike J., who asked:
Most iron sets I'm finding come with a "pitching wedge" with a 44 degree loft. With all the talk about "covering gaps" between clubs, why are there so few companies making a 48 degree wedge? You have stated, in more than one column, about having wedge gaps of 4 degrees. This makes sense to me, having read your explanations. If a "gap wedge" is between 50 and 52 degrees, that leaves 6 or 8 degrees between your pitch and gap wedge.
Well, Mike, the problem started when companies started “jacking up” the lofts of their irons so they could claim that “ours are longer than yours”. Pitching wedges have “evolved” from 50-51 degrees of loft in the 50s to the mid 40s today. Which is what a 9- or even 8-iron used to be. The alterations don’t only apply to loft either. Shafts have gotten longer, too.

When pitching wedges started to be made stronger, this trend created the need for “gap wedges” of 52 degrees or so, as the full swing distance “gap” between the sand wedge of 55-57 degrees and the new jacked up pitching wedge (or renamed 9-iron!!) became too large.

Now, with “pitching wedges” coming down further -- to 43-44 degrees -- the manufacturers have created a new “gap” between that and the Gap Wedge. So what’s a golfer to do?

I suggest the first thing you do is forget the number or mark on the bottom of the club and figure out just what it is. A “Pitching Wedge” that is only 44 degrees cannot perform like a true pitching wedge. It’s not . . . it’s a renamed 9- or 8-iron for Pete’s sake. How can it? If you put a Corvette emblem Chevette, it doesn’t become a high performance automobile, does it?

The singular goal of your irons is to give you precision shotmaking tools so that you can navigate the various approach shots in a round of golf. There are no “awards” given for hitting the green with a jacked up 8-iron, as opposed to a more traditional lofted 7. And the number on the club has absolutely zero effect on the outcome of the shot. Two golfers side by side in the fairway, with 42 degree loft irons, with the same length shaft, are going to get about the same results, regardless of what the number on the bottom of their clubs might be.

The problem is to figure out what “numbers” to have in your bag. Most golfers are best served by a 4 degree gap between their scoring clubs – longer hitters might consider taking that to 3 degrees, shorter hitters to 5.

So, working backward from your highest lofted wedge, you can figure out what you need to be well-equipped when you are in scoring range. If that is a 58 degree, for example, a reasonable set make-up would be a 54, 50, 46, 42 . . . It really doesn’t matter what marking is on those clubs; what you are after is consistent and reasonable gaps in your full swing yardages, so you can score the golf course efficiently. And you can tweak lofts and shaft length to get what you want and need.

I know, I know . . . you’re going to shout “Dang Terry, how many wedges should a golfer carry?” Well, when you remember that your pitching wedge probably isn’t a wedge at all, it gets easy. I think carrying less than three clubs from 48 degrees and up handicaps your short game. I personally carry a 50, 54 and 58 to complement my 47 degree set-match pitching wedge. That gives me full swing yardages of 117, 105, 92 and 80 with those four clubs. And many options around the greens to get different trajectories and roll-out, without having to manipulate the club much at all.

All I’m suggesting here is that you not get hung up on the nomenclature of your irons, but really understand what you can do with them. And if you find a distance range that is awkward, fill it!

See you guys on Friday. Keep those inquiries coming in, and win a FREE EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge like Michael just did.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Century1 says:
It appears as if set manufacturers are reverse educating everyone into beleiving
that longer is better with every club. It is a bit baffeling to me since, everybody calls the short clubs the scoring clubs. I don't see the guys from the long ball competitions, on the PGA tour. There are so many clubs out there to take care of the long game, driver 3,4,5, wood, 2,3,4, hybrid, 2,3,4 iron. It makes people forget that most of their shots are from within 120 yds. This collumn just reafirmed me that working back from the shortest club up is the right way to go. If one of the long clubs has to sit in the garage, to make room, oh well. At least I will have the right club for scoring distances. I just bought a set of Terry's wedges, because I think that this common sense approach, must surely have been a factor in the design.
2/9/10
 
daincm says:
Why are golf clubs labeled with a number in the first place?
2/9/10
 
TravisMiller says:
I found out this week that I am really lacking a gap wedge. My PW is 110 to 120 and my SW is 80-90 yards. Now to buy Or (win) a GW from eidolon!
2/9/10
 
mjaber says:
Thanks Terry. I had been getting frustrated with my iron shopping, because from what I was finding, I was not only going to need to buy the irons, but also a 48* to fill between the PW in the set and my 52* gap wedge. Now, I can get a 48* from Eidolon. Sweet. Thanks again.
2/9/10
 
golfmonkey says:
Is there a go to source for club specs? I play Nike Slingshot 4Ds and all I could find out online is that the PW is 46 degrees (source unknown). I couldn't find anything on the GW or any other club in the set for that matter.
2/9/10
 
cheymike says:
gm... the nike site has the specs for the 4Ds. At the risk of it looking like spam, and hoping there isn't a problem with posting a link.. its at www.nike.com/nikegolf/?navID=products&catID=club
2/9/10
 
mjaber says:
@golfmonkey- I got my info direct from the MFG websites. I know Callaway, TM and Cobra all have the loft angles for their clubs on their site. I'm not sure about Nike.
2/9/10
 
Tee it High. says:
Any golf fitter can tell you the specs in about 90 seconds. I recently got my PW looked at, just over 47 degrees, which helped me change my wedge configuration.
2/9/10
 
golfmonkey says:
@cheymike - Thanks! I tried Nike.com and then selected men's golf. All kinds of gear but no clubs! Thanks again.
2/9/10
 
mschad says:
Here is one for Sling Shot Irons, not sure they are 4D but you should be able to tell... www.eprolinegolf.com/NikeSlingShotIrons.aspx
2/9/10
 
Bryan K says:
Last year, I was using 60, 55, 52, and 45 degree wedges. The distances on those clubs were about 55, 70, 80, and 100. The difference between the pitching wedge and the gap wedge was absolutely brutal. I bought a new wedge set this winter that has five degree intervals...60, 55, 50, and 45. I like the 60 degree wedge. It's definitely my best and most consistent club. Yes, I have thought about adding a fifth wedge.
2/11/10
 
k-von says:
Personally, I think you can get away with a larger gap between higher-lofted wedges than the 130-90 yard clubs. When taking power off of a swing, it's been my experience that you can retain control/accuracy with greater ease using sand and lob wedges than the PW. For instance, I can pitch a 56* club 50 yards about as accurately as I can hit it 100 yards. But the comfort zone I have with a 49* club is only really 117-89 yards since it's less malleable by nature. Hence, I think you only really need one club in the high 40's, one in the low 50's, and one in the 56-60 range and have all your bases effectively covered.
2/11/10
 
Albatross says:
Century1 has it correct. Start from the bottom and work up. The most important thing to do is learn what the "consistent distance" is with each club in your bag. Not the longest distance, but the distance you can repeat and rely on. It doesn't make any difference what club it is, the distance is what is important.
2/11/10
 
Century1 says:
Albatross last year was a real eye opener for me. A guy I played quite a few rounds with, would rarely drive a ball over 220, but it was in the middle, and he had deadly aim from 160 in. He kept telling me that it was a straight game first, not a long game first. Needless to say he had lots of short irons which he used very well, and he kicked my butt every time we played. k-von makes an interesting point about swing speed, and using less wedges. I would like to here Terry's take on k-von's comments VS bjohn13 who seems to be hinting at a 64degree on top of the other 4.
2/11/10
 
wedgeguy says:
This is why I wrote the book, The SCoR Method, which we include with each order. It presents a systematic way to learn your "real" distances with your scoring clubs, and then how to hit the "in between" shots by altering your hand position on the club. It really will add a huge element of precision to your scoring range shots. And the key point k-von makes is that if you spend the time practicing them, you CAN bring real precision to your less-than-full shots.
2/12/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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