How Many Wedges Should I Carry?
Not -- How Many Wedges? It’s -- How Many Scoring Options?

I write a lot about managing your distance gaps in your set of clubs, but apparently this subject is generating a lot of thinking by you readers. So this week I selected a question by D.R. Bryden. He asks:
“What is your opinion on big gaps vs. little gaps in club yardages and where they should occur?”
D.R., thanks for the question and yes, I am a huge fan of managing your gaps so that you have the required level of precision for the shot at hand. In my opinion and experience, that means that you should have the most shotmaking options when you are closer to the green.

Think of it this way. At 180-225 yards from the green, you have, or at least should have, pretty broad expectations of results. Regardless of your skill level, you should be playing the safe side of the green, even if it leaves you a pitch or chip, and a bogey is not a bad score at that range. If you are within 40-60 feet from your target spot, you probably are not going to be too bad off, as course architects typically are more generous on those long-approach holes than the shorter ones.

But if you are within short iron range, say 140 or less, you can begin thinking of hitting it close and taking a more aggressive line to the flag or safe side of it anyway. That’s where you need precision in both direction and distance, and manageable gaps between clubs of 12-15 yards are how you’ll get that.

In our popular book, “The SCoR Method”, we present a system of distance management that shows you how to get at least three precise distances from each club by changing your hand position on the grip – at the normal place, and then gripped down in ½” increments. Each ½” down on the club will take off about 5 yards typically. So, if you had 15-17 yard gaps at the long end of your set, you could still gear down to 7-10 yard accuracy with The SCoR Method, right? And that’s plenty good at 200 yards – 30 feet long or short is a good shot at that distance, even for a low handicap player.

But at the short end of the set, that process will allow you to achieve 3-5 yard accuracy when you are trying to set up birdies and save pars. If you have more club options in this range, your scoring will improve for sure.

I had a dialog with a long-hitting customer just yesterday who was asking about what wedge lofts he should be carrying. He claimed to hit his Callaway X-Tour pitching wedge 135-140, so that meant he was relying on his wedges a lot. He also had four clubs that produced over 200 yard distances – why? I suggested that he lengthen his 4-iron by ½” and drop his 3-iron. That leaves him the 4, his hybrid and fairway wood for all shots over 210 or so. Then he could supplement the pitching wedge with our wedges of 50, 53, 57 and 60 to give him a sound set of scoring tools to dissect golf courses with.

You might be screaming “five wedges!!!!”, but yes, for a golfer that hits it that far, he needs them. That’s where most of his shots are coming from. For me, for example, from 140 and in, I have six clubs – 8, 9, P, and 50, 54 and 58 wedges.

Don’t think of it as how many wedges – think of it as how many scoring options you have inside 150 yards!
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 ]
Jake Bogardus says:
Tiger hits his wedge at least as far as your "long hitter" and he carries only 3 wedges! I think it is more useful to learn shots and actually have a feel for the game rather than carry 5 wedges some of which you will only be using once a round.
4/2/09
 
ryohazuki222 says:
I'd agree with the post above....
4/2/09
 
M.Nugent says:
I agree that scoring options are good but a sand wedge (57), lob wedge(60), and gap wedge (50) should be fine for any player
4/2/09
 
ajdaddy says:
I would suggest that Tiger Woods has a bit more time to hit balls than most of us do. As many wedges as it takes to get the job done. Doesn't mean you don't have a feel for the game, because you still have to play shots, just so that you have to make up less of them, since you aren't practicing and playing 8-10 hours a day.
4/2/09
 
georgelohr says:
I agree with Nugent. Gap, Lob and Sand....so long as they are incremented correctly. Alot of people don't know the loft of the PW that came with their iron set. Would be silly to have a PW with a 48* loft and then a GW with a 50* loft.
4/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
He's aying something very specific - relating to the SCOUR method. However, that requires sensible play and many dollars - you need to be willing to play some target golf (not always going for it from way out) and shelling out dough for the properly incremented clubs.
Most golfers trade in sets, let clubs and grips get old, and have a mix of lofts, bounces, and club styles (though run through mucho sheckles on carts, beer and bets (usually enough to buy a new wedge)). I think money were no option we'd see more sensible club selections (and more lessons). Instead we're victims of impulse buys, superstitions, and the same mediocre results.
I myself am trying to puzzle my way out of a wedge situation...
4/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
I had always used a Vokey 58/08 for everything from 100yds in - varying ball position mostly, for high pitches, low punches, chips, and sand shots. For a while I had a 64 hi lob for intense bunker and lob needs - but used it very, very rarely. I dropped that and picked up a Vokey 52/04 gapper which split the difference with a new set of irons. Then I found a Vokey 56/14 in the weeds (brand new with a sheared off shaft) and got it shafted/ gripped for $40. The 58/08 is worn out finally, and I'm now using 56/14 for flops, pitches, sand, and 52/04 for chipping and gapping (both of these due to bounce disparity 52/04 vs. 56/14). Full 56 = 105 yds. Full 52 = 118. Full P = 125. 9 = 135. 8 = 150. I'm planning on getting a 60 with a low bounce for pitches and punches <100 yds
What is interesting now is getting used to differentiated functions of these clubs vs. a 58/08 to use for almost all of these.
4/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Q: What bounce should I get for the new 60?

I think low like 04? I play the ball center to back and only flop when absolutely necessary. In other words, I'm not sliding the club under as much as hitting the back mostly. I'm not sculling/ chunking anymore due to bounce use, but it's tough getting used to all the new loft/ yardage adjustments.

Or is it better to get a moderate bounce (8-10)?

-Wedgy in Wickford
4/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
So, If you can get the info and get set up right, it's very much worth it. Getting dialed in will take some time. Then there's more questions... "Am I at 49yds or 56yds?"

If you can't... feel, creative shotmaking, guts, etc. are where it's at. It has to be.
4/2/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
I just don't know how you are going to use 5 wedges. If you play "real" courses you really aren't hitting to many wedges. I hit the ball fairly long, and today played a 6900 yard course, you don't hit wedges into many greens no matter how long you are. Don't think I had any full wedge shots other than on the par 5s and around the green of course. But I certainly don't need 5 options from 20 yards and in.
4/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Right now I'm just using 2, but for different things. A third gives me an option I don't have. I don't want to use the 56 from the fairway (or tight lies) because of the 14 degree bounce - It's for rough/ sand/ rhubarb.
The 52 is better for that, but full is at about 120yds. It'd be nice to pitch from tight lies with the loft and range of a 60.
All I'm saying is, that it works either way. However, once you start differentiating, you find more holes.
Some people do a lot of differentiation in the 200+yd range and the wedgy guy clearly disagrees with that.
Do you change club selection based on the course?

I have a friend who makes crazy sets based on the course. Of course he hates hitting the long irons. He'll swap out woods/ wedges and sometimes "lightens the bag" to make room for fishing gear (literally, license and all).
4/3/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
No I agree with wedge guy that you don't need 5 clubs from 200+. I really think that the optimal set is Driver, 3W, 5W or 3H, 4-PW, GW, SW, putter. From there you decide if you want to go with a 4th wedge, or put in both the 3H and 5W, or maybe you go Mick and carry 2 drivers. In the end you play whatever you are most comfortable and confident in because at the end of the day confidence is your best club
4/3/09
 
ghecko90 says:
I think the ability to control distance is just as important as the ability to judge distance. Wind, temperature, elevation all play into this. I can't tell you anyone who know how much 20 degree temp changes affects their yardage. Maybe pros can. Dialing in +/- 3 yards of accuracy on a wegde does you no good if you get the distance wrong. I still don't see many GPS, or lasers on the course. I rarely see anyone pacing the distace off either. How do you judge distance to effectively use whatever wedges are in your bag?
4/3/09
 
Tim Horan says:
I am with Terry on this one. I have six clubs in from 150yds 8, 9, 48, 52, 56 and 60. I like the options to run it in, fire it in low, lob it in or on occasion Texas wedge the sucker. If you short side yourself you need all the loft you can get! With my putting I would rather miss the green (even on a medium/ short par 4)chip on with a variety of clubs and single putt for par than hit the green and three putt.
4/3/09
 
Tim Horan says:
With these V sole Eidolons it is like having 8 wedges available. Firing in a 60 degree low and zippy and with the same club being able to lob it in and release gently to the hole. I played at Woodhall Spa over the weekend... bunkers like you've never seen 12 ft deep with sheer faces. The only way out was 60 degree power blasts no way was 56 degree enough! So how many wedges do you need? All of them!
4/3/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Right. And it was just a matter of time before the v-sole sales pitch came. Jake it seems is killer with GIR from a distance. Some people play really short insane flops.
How legal are GPS and other yardage devices?
Mind you, they don't give you the firmness, the undulation, or the wind - perhaps bigger factors. Many courses are poorly marked, or wrongly marked.
Either way, it's worth going down the road to see what you find. I've already come up with unique stategical solutions to golf situations with new wedge insight.
4/3/09
 
sigmapete1 says:
Someone above mentioned using lasers (which are more accurate than GPSs) and I think this is the best way to help your 140 and in game. Without one, can you tell the difference between 75 and 85? or 95 and 105? And we all know the course markers are 1) not always accurate and 2) measured to the center, not the pin. Rather than spend the money on new wedges, get a laser rangefinder. Because you CAN NOT learn feel from 140 and in if you never know the exact distance you just hit that last shot.
4/3/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
Sig, question for you, did Hogan have a laser to find exact distance to pin? How about Nicklaus? Or Bobby Jones? Jeez how about Harry Vardon? Don't think so. Feel is the most important part of the game and you can most certainly feel from 140 and in, in fact its essential to do so. Players today still profess to just feeling distances and shot shapes. Golf, as much as some of us might want to believe is not a mechanical game where you can memorize what length swing equates to what distance. Golf is not a formula people! It is a game of feel and touch. So Sig, I would have to say I disagree with you 100% on this.
4/3/09
 
Terry Johnson says:
I think it is this easy, I don't hit balls everyday. I think the wedges are the hardest to hit in the bag to control distance. I carry three wedges that I know I can trust and have confidence in and it works for me. Gap Wedge, 56 and a 60 degree, no use putting sonething in my hand that I don't have confidence in.
4/3/09
 
pvt4211 says:
Bottom line - learn how to hit your wedges, and you will have a lot more distance options. Whether it is choking down, a half swing, delofting the club, playing the ball front or back, it does not matter what you do to control distance, it is important to practice these on the range. My opinion is that all amateurs should hit at least as many balls with each of your wedges with a specific target on the range as you hit with your driver. Also, practice your wedge game off grass, the stupid mats give your wedge game a tremendous false confidence. These little things have helped me tremendously in my game. I'm no expert or scratch golfer, but that is my 2 cents.
4/3/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
Exactly! Practice! And for those of you who say you don't have time to hit balls and practice, then guess what, you are never going to be good, so carry 13 wedges, you still aren't going to be good if you don't practice
4/3/09
 
onedollarwed says:
All clubs are essentially wedges - simple machines to reduce work. Golf reduces work - unless you're on the grounds crew.
Love the pleasant banter. A funny thing... tell me if you agree. I never in the past have watched ANY golf on TV. There were many years I had no TV - a choice - and only recently have cable... so now a cna't help but see what's on the golf channel.
One thing I hunger for is real touring pros teaching. It seems most of them are terrible teachers. The almost have no detailed knowledge of how they do what they do: "Well... it's like 200 something and I'll just grab like a 6 iron and sort of sweep it a bit, like this see and... uh... feel it flow, smooth, and, uh make nice solid contact - keep it nice and smooth in here (some kind of vague gesture), and click (beautiful shot)"
4/4/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Now, I'm not saying they don't know what they're doing... I'm agreeing with Jake in that so much of their skill is intutitive, almost animal. When I play best everything is intuitive. No matter what I calculate, the muscles and brain hijack the calculation and fix it to match the intuition.
How many times have you planned to hit a putt a certain way and then whoosh! "why did I hit it so hard?" and then it turns out it was right?
Of course that intuition comes from:
1. knowing the course
2. playing a course for the first time which is visually obvious
3. Repetition - like practice
4. confidence
So, a real question?
Is it the caddie's job to know them better that they know themselves and trick them into getting it right? Do they know what they're doing? Are they totally dependent on caddies, practice rounds, trainers?
I used to think anyone could play golf, until I taught it for a couple of years.
4/4/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Wedgy's system, I think is for the unintutitive, perhaps? Is it easier to use the crutches of technique, knowlegde, and calculation to eliminate variables?
Or, like Charlie Parker... learn everything there is to know and then promptly throw it all away?
4/4/09
 
wedgeguy says:
Great dialog, guys, and I'm enjoying it. But let me clarify something. I am and have always been a "feel player", but found that when I know exactly what club and swing produce 78, 85, 97 yards, etc., I find that my feel and intuition is just that much more enhanced. If you travel around, you know that terrain affects your ability to judge distance dramatically, as do flag sticks of varying heights. I'm a fan of the laser rangefinder, particularly when traveling to new courses. They're legal and very helpful.
4/7/09
 
JWHpurist says:
Rather interesting comments. The major point is, learn to use the tools you have to produce the desired results! Thirty years ago I had only two wedges, an FG-17 PW and a PGA R-91. I learned after many hours of practice (on grass & sand) how to produce the desired shot results from 110 yd. in with these clubs. Also my original persimmon Ginty #7 proved to be the best pitch & run club when held & swung properly. This was before the name "Utility Club or Hybrid" was coined. This club also produced rather interesting results form 150yd. to 130 yd. in, when used in the proper manner. How about that! JWHpurist
4/7/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Wow, I need more information... What I mean is, as far as legalality. I'm not concerned about some of those issues always and need to know more. I'll bring extra clubs sometimes for demo purposes. Or 2 putters - one to lend, one to demo. But what are the technologies that can be used in real tournaments or leagues?
I'm not in a league, and at this point havbe no interest in real competitions. But could I be using? What are the relative costs? GPS is kind of pricey.
I often suffer from failing to analyze some aspect of a shot - like up/ downhill, or front/ back pin, the lie (up/ down, side), or firmness of particular greens. Usually, some root distance from a sprinkler, a few paces, etc.
I'm best when using a yardage book and/ or benchmarks (stones) on par 3's - in other words, exact distances.
I didn't think the range devices could be used in real competitions.
4/7/09
 
Tim Horan says:
I am not Terry's stooge! I have no special loyalty to Eidolon but until I find something that works as well I will promote the V sole wedges. Have you tried them?
4/7/09
 
Albatross says:
I think Terry's got it right, but for me it depends on the course. I regularly play courses that range from 6200 yds. to over 7000. The shorter, tighter courses require accuracy and excellent play around and on the greens, so I add a wedge. The longer, generally wide open courses require more distance so I add a fairway wood/hybrid and take out a wedge. When I figure out how to hit a wider variety of shots with some of my fairway woods/hybrids I will drop a long club and go back to more wedges. I prefer having more choices from 130 yds in rather than from 215 to 250.
4/8/09
 
chvnc7 says:
I've been looking to buy some new wedges and have been completely confused with "bounce". Could you please explain what bounce is and how it affects shots?
4/15/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
If the Wedge Guy would write about one of my questions some week, I'd put the Edilon wedge in my bag and go to 4 wedges, until then, it'll be 3 and I'll argue against more wedges till the death.
4/15/09
 
wedgeguy says:
chvnc7, We have a very comprehensive set of pages on wedges in general on our website. Go to www.BestWedge.com and click on the "About Wedges" link. I think it will answer many of your questions, especially about bounce. If not, post your question here and we'll discuss it.
4/16/09
 
wedgeguy says:
As for you, Jake, shoot me the question you think most would like also to hear me sound off about and you might just get that 4th wedge!
4/16/09
 
Tim Horan says:
Jake is that you on the ropes?
4/17/09
 
Jake Bogardus says:
@ Tim: haha not quite, but I would put a 4th wedge in and take the 3 iron out. And wedgeguy, I've sent you some solid questions, I think you just don't like me. lol. I'll keep sending them. I really do enjoy your article each week, and this is what its all about right, discussing different point of views on the best way to play the game. Keep up the good work.
4/17/09
 
dpolisoto says:
You're looking a 3 degree spead in your wedges, where I find the 4 degree spread works out well. My PW is 48, GW is 52, SW is 56 and LW is 60. This seems to cover the 140 and in yardages pretty well. Thanks
5/8/09
 
WeBClubbin' says:
Jake, you ask if Nicklaus, Bobby Jones or Harry Vardon had lasers? Well of course they did not. They had something better. Caddies, detailed yardage books and the ability to have their caddies shag their practice shots to give them exact distances. They had FEEDBACK. Without it, practice is useless. I recently played in a charity tournament. Off the tee I said it was 247 yards to carry the bunker. My playing partners looked at me like "How do you know that?" I said I checked the yardage book. Then I hit the back of the bunker with a laser and hey guess what it was? 247 yards. Now, when was the last time you played a course where you had a yardage book available? Watch the pros. Those little books they carry around are not "to do lists" for the day.
6/8/09
 
WeBClubbin' says:
I also like to add. What is a wedge? Today's pitching wedge is yesterday's nine iron. When a pitching wedge was 50 degrees and a sand wedge 56 it was understandable to carry two or three wedges. But today the "pitching wedge" is just an another iron. Often lofted at 45 - 48 degrees. I carry three to four wedges a 50 degree, 56 degree, 60 degree and 64 degree. My nine iron is 45 degrees and the spacing of my irons is 5 degrees.
6/8/09
 
WeBClubbin' says:
Set makeup involves the entire bag, not just the wedges you carry. Last time I checked the object of the game of golf was to advance the ball around the course in the fewest number of strokes. The rules of golf allows you to carry 14 tools (golf clubs) to accomplish this. Whatever 14 tools YOU need to accomplish your goal THAT is what you should carry. As for Terry's V-sole technology, I am a big fan of it. His 56 degree wedge has let me handle all types of lies in all types of sand bunkers. I simply could not get out of a bunker before I got one of Terry's wedges. So, it works for me! And in the interest of full disclosure I am a club fitter/builder and I carry Terry's wedge line.
6/8/09
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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