Lob Wedge: Love it or hate it?
It may just be the most controversial club in the game — the dreaded or cherished "lob wedge". Tom Kite is generally credited as being one of the first tour professionals to put the 60-degree "lob wedge" into the bag for regular play. And shortly thereafter, Mr. Kite became legendary for his skills and accuracy with that club. And others followed, starting with the tour players. The popularity of the lob wedge spread quickly, as things tend to happen in golf equipment, once this visibility and dialog reached a regular pitch on TV.
I hear regularly from golfer two comments about "lob wedges". It seems golfers' opinions about this specialty club fall into two categories. Either you hate it because you never learned to master it, or you love it because you have. I got a question from a reader asking my opinion on this high-loft specialty club, so here goes.
First of all, let's define what we mean by "lob wedge". For this discussion, I'm considering lofts from 58 degrees and up, but mostly in the 58-62 range. There are higher lofted wedges available, but to me they belong in the next category, so we'll contain the discussion to those 58-62 models that are available.
The advantages of the lob wedge are that it launches the ball higher than the sand wedge, and can generate more spin if used properly. Therein lies the rub, so to speak, because these high-lofted wedges are not something you can just pick up and begin shaving strokes. They take orientation and practice to learn just what they can ... and cannot ... do for your short range scoring.
The key to solid lob wedge play is to realize that this is not really a "full swing" club, in the sense that you never want to swing our lob wedge nearly as hard as you would a mid-iron or even pitching wedge. Increased clubhead speed makes shots fly higher and with less distance consistency, and this "problem" is increased as the loft of the club increases. What you should consider a "full lob wedge" shot is really no more than 75-80% of your normal full swing power.
To hit the lob wedge, there are a few basic fundamentals you want to concentrate on. In your set-up, your stance should be narrower than a full-swing wedge shot, and feet aligned slightly left of your target line. The ball should be positioned toward the middle of your stance, so that you have a slight forward lean of the shaft from the head to your hands. Be careful when setting up this way that you do not allow the face to lay open to the target line.
The swing should be simple and "quiet", in that you don't want to allow excessive hinging of the wrists. The motion is felt in the body core rotation, and swinging of the arms, rather than the action of the hands. In the forward swing, you want to feel like you are pulling the club through the impact zone, with your body leading your arms, arms leading your hands, and hands leading the clubhead. That insures a crisp, slightly downward strike of the ball.
And let yourself swing into a nice high finish.
For those partial and half shots with the lob wedge, the same fundamentals apply, just reduce the length and force of the swing to gauge your distance.
If you have a lob wedge you hate, try these tips and see if you can't generate a little love down there at the bottom of your bag.
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[ comments ]
I carry a 60 degree lob wedge and I've learned to play with it and would not take it out of my bag. I rather give up my pitching wedge if I had to.
Kurt the Knife says:
my 60 is essential. I typically spend 2-3 hours per week in my backyard practicing precision tosses here and there. Im learning how to control anything from 10 feet to 25 yds. Its an essential tool.
Kurt the Knife says:
Forgot to say I'm using Mickelson's "Secrets of the Short Game" methods.
I gave up the 60 for a 58 and am much more consistant. Might have something to do with the 60 being a stock nike cpr and the 58 being a SCOR 1" long and 2* up but who knows.
Lob wedge is great out of the sand, too, when you need to get the ball up quickly and have it land softly.
I stumbled blindly into learning the flop shot by experimenting with my lob wedge.
Can't say I hate it since I never have really carried one. I messed around with one a few years back around the practice green and on the range. Never felt comfortable that I could carry the ball a consistant distance whether it was 10 feet or 50 yards.
Maybe I will give it a try again this year.
I'm attached to the 60. I think of it as a specialty club but let's face it there are times when I want to just take a full rip with it, because it seems like the right shot for the distance and pin position. Probably I use it mostly for flop shots though, rarely hit it with any kind of square or closed face. I am sort of a maniac with this garden hoe of a club--I'll attempt just about any kind of flop shot. There's no short side too short.
When I first started playing golf I was dying for a high lofted wedge. Then I read someone, I think Butch Harmon, make a comment that the 60 or 64 degree wedge was one of the worst things to ever happen in golf because it was too hard to hit for most golfers. Totally scared me so I stuck with a 56 degree for two years until I finally moved up to a 58 last year. Truly a love/hate relationship with the 58 - despite lots of practice, more really good shots than the 56, but also more sub par shots.
Duke of Hazards says:
some of my most memorable shots have come from the 60*, which I don't use very often. i recently had a short greenside bunker hole out with it (to save double) and twice last year at same course, I short sided myself on a reachable par 5, landing in fluffy rough, about 30 feet or so from the green, but with low hanging trees and a mound and bunker between me and the hole. only play was to go up and over. pulled off the towering flop over the trees both times and landed on the green. of course, I could've easily bladed the bloody hell out of either of those shots and had a much different opinion. as long as you're aware of your lie and the limitations of the club, I think it's an asset.
Alot of love for the lob wedge in the comments, but what can a 60* wedge do that a 56* can't? I'm just not sure of what situation an amatuer golfer would find him/herself in that would require a lob wedge instead of a sand wedge. And with the correct bounce angle you can even open up the 56* and adjust your stance accordingly for that extra high lofted shot.
carv712 - a few years ago I would have agreed with on regarding the similarities and functionality of a 56* sand wedge and a 60* lob wedge. The greatest difference between my sand wedge and my lob wedge are not the face angle but the bounce. The increased height and depth of the bounce on a standard sand wedge is much greater than any other iron in your bag, including the lob wedge. There are many finesse shots am not as comfortable making with a SW as I am using my LW. I am a lob wedge lover!
Yeah, you'll find much more bounce in traditional sand wedges - both in angle and in the width of the sole.
I used to do everything with a 52d wedge grew to love using one wedge for everything - varying stances, shot type, and ball position to suit the situation: greenside-chip to full swing approaches. Adding more wedges with differentiated bounces and angles helped me develop more shot types in more situations.
Now with 4 wedges with identical construction and bounce characteristics, any shot type can be played with any wedge. Now the question mostly entails marrying the shot type with the trajectory.
More bounce was the key for me in finding a useful 60 degree wedge. I've been messing with them for 30 years, and all of the early trials were with clubs with little to no bounce. In 1990, I ran across an Armour 845 "W4" with 60 degree loft and 13 degrees of bounce. It's never left the bag. If I need a soft shot from a bare lie I play it with a square face and an ultra weak grip. May not be textbook, but it's worked for me.
what can a 60 do that an opened face of a 56 can't? 60s are too hard to hit for the average amateur. even in the comments a lot of you are saying you barely use it.
it's probably me though. i never take full swings with my 52 and 56, so i just don't see the point in having one.
I love my L60* it gets used more than any of my other wedges around the green. I agree about not using as a full swing club even though i do sometimes it usually never plays out like i envision it. I like the flop if needed though that shot needs to be practiced to avoid bladeing it 30+ yards. I will close the face sometimes to hit shots that roll out more 3/4 shots from about 50 yards are great. I would give up my 52 or 56 before my 60 any day of the week.
badcaddy - if you open a sand wedge you will increase the loft. Yes, you can get the same effective loft from a SW as a LW. You can chip and pitch with either club interchangeably from 50 yards in. However, the bounce on a sand wedge comes more into play the more you lay a club open. It is difficult to make good contact a couple grooves off the bottom of a SW off a tightly mowed fairway or fringe. And you run the risk of blading a sand wedge if you open it up on a tight lie. From 20 yards and in, on any grass other than thick rough, which requires some carry I will always get better results with my 58 LW than my 55 SW.
Most manufacturers offer bounce options for all wedges (LW, SW, AW...) The Wedge Guy offers several options in this department. So if you have a 56* wedge with low bounce angle than you can safely open up the face without worrying about the dreaded "bladed shot". All I'm saying is a lob wedge with a higher bounce angle (10* or 12*) would act very similarly to opening the face of a 56* wedge that has less bounce (6* for example).
@badcaddy: You could have a 60deg with low bounce, and a "tour grind" (makes me want coffee), narrow sole or some such thing, vs. a high bounce large-soled 56deg.
I tend to love all the clubs in my bag, even the 59deg. I even carried a 64deg for a while to pop over small trees on certain courses. However, I play the ball back in my stance with wedges quite often (to get consistent contact), and can get a higher loft and more spin with a 60d than a 56deg.
I think it's been said before that: "it's how the club goes through the dirt..." etc., And I can say that every brand goes through the dirt differently based on many factors (length, flex, lie angle, loft angle, bounce, shape), never mind your technique and the ground your on and the lie you have - hope it's at least some combination of grass and dirt!
i have 2 sand wedges. 1 with low bounce for firm days, 1 with average bounce for the wet days. so depending on the conditions, i'll switch them out.
there are way too many things that you can factor in a shot, so i just decided to take one out of the equation by not having 1 more wedge. keep it simple.
Playing yesterday I had 3 different length chip/lob shots that I used 3 different clubs for. One was about 30 yds, used my 56 degree (sand wedge), stopped it about about 1' from the pin. The second was 50yds over a bunker, used my 52 degree Eidolon wedge, stopped it about 3" from the cup. Last was about 15 yds, used my 60 degree wedge, stopped about 18" from cup. I used Pro V1's yesterday for the first time this year. The inexpensive Callaways & Wilsons just won't stop quickly around the greens.
The stroke I use is an abreviated pitch. Swing back to 8 o'clock ish position then quickly accerate through the ball to a fast stop just past the ball. This pops the ball up and (with a ball that has spin) stops it quick on the green. So I like my 60!
Tim Horan says:
I bought a 64 degree a few years back. Fluffed every shot with it for six months and gave it away vowing never to venture into lob wedges again. Until... I bought a four wedge set from Eidolon. It must have been a bounce issue as I wouldn't be without my 60 degree V sole. With the double bounce it opens up a whole range of shots that were just not possible with a fixed 14 degree bounce and square heel.
Choose carefully they are very hard to judge from a range mat. Go to the second hand bucket and try a few different clubs. If you understand what you are looking at you will soon find one that suits you and then buy a similar design new.
I love my 60* vokey. All this mumbo jumbo about it being too hard to hit is ridiculous. Grab a bucket of balls and go to town. Time and patience go a long way in golf. So do yourself a favor go out and buy a lob wedge. I rarely use mine around the green unless im extremely short sided. Usually use mine for those tricky 35-50 yard shots. A half swing with a 60* will go that far and check and stop for those pin locations at the front and middle of the greens!
Love it. I have a 60Deg wedge that really saves my game on most days. ractise for at least 15 minutes every time i go to the range and feel that I have certainly not mastered it but "got the hang of it"
Hi there. I am in a bit of a pickle. I have your standard pitching wedge and sand wedge. I won myself a Cobra Tour Trusty wedge. So now I have to pick between 60 degrees or 52 (Gap Wedge)... So basically could someone advise me as to what would go the best? Should I go 60 or much lower?
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