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How to properly gap your wedges

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Every golf equipment company has a theory and pitch for why you should play its wedges. I am here to say that, yes, certain wedges from certain manufacturers have advantages over others, both in performance and looks and feel. For that reason, golfers should spend some time determining what wedge is best for their game. If they don’t understand the process of wedge gapping, however, their next wedge purchase is unlikely to help them shoot lower scores.

The performance differences between today’s wedges include slight changes in spin production, sole grinds, stock shaft options, head construction and forgiveness. On the looks/feel side of things, there are big differences in head shape, finishes and feel. But again, these are secondary factors that should only be tackled once you properly gap your wedges. Doing so will not only give you more confidence about how far your wedges actually fly, but will leave you with fewer “tweener” yardages that are often harder to convert into birdies and pars.

So where should golfers start? Many fall into the trap of thinking that they need to buy specific wedges with specific lofts in order to achieve consistent yardage gaps. Sometimes they’re right, but before they make any new purchases they should first exhaust the simplest, most obvious solution. All they need to do is chart how far their wedges currently fly in the air, either on the course or on a launch monitor like Trackman. The feedback will be even more precise if you use the same golf ball you use when you play — and as I wrote about previously, premium golf balls are the way to go for a better wedge game.

To show you how important a wedge gapping is, I performed one on my wedge game with my Trackman. I currently use four wedges, and have a 4-degree loft separation between them as many players do. This is not done by customization, usually; it’s become the default configuration promoted by the manufacturers, and PW-52-56-60 or PW-50-54-58 are the most commonly recommended wedge sets.

As a PGA Professional, I’ve been so busy teaching in recent years that I haven’t gotten to play much golf, so I was particularly interested to see if I was playing a properly gapped set of wedges.

My current wedges 

  • TaylorMade PSi Tour (PW) — 46 Degrees
  • TaylorMade Tour Preferred (ATV Grind) — 50 Degrees
  • TaylorMade ATV — 54 Degrees
  • TaylorMade Tour Preferred (ATV Grind) — 58 Degrees

WedgeGapsGolf

My average carry distances

  • 115 yards,TaylorMade PSi Tour (PW) —  46 Degrees
  • 104.1 yards,TaylorMade Tour Preferred (ATV Grind) — 50 Degrees
  • 96.5 yards,TaylorMade ATV — 54 Degrees
  • 88.8 yards,TaylorMade Tour Preferred (ATV Grind) — 58 Degrees

My gaps

  • PW to GW: 10.9 yards
  • GW to SW: 7.6 yards
  • SW to LW: 7.7 yards

While my wedge gaps proved to be somewhat even, they were too close together. Do I really need four clubs for a distance range that covers less than 30 yards? The answer for me is no, so I will need to reconsider my wedge makeup to achieve the 12-yard gaps that I prefer.

Many golfers, especially those who have been playing a long time, will have different preferences about what they want their yardage gaps to be on full swings — 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards, etc. Generally, the more full swings golfers make with their wedges, the tighter their yardage gaps should be. Other players will never “max out” a wedge, preferring to hit finesse shots and alter their trajectory. These types of golfers generally play wedges with wider yardage gaps, as their distances are more feel-based.

Whatever type of wedge game you have, gapping is still of the utmost importance, because if you don’t know how far your wedges fly then you have no chance to play your best.

My friend Scott Felix, a Golf Digest Top 100 club fitter and owner of Felix Clubworks in Memphis, Tenn., says that every 1 degree change in wedge loft will create approximately a 3-yard change in carry distance. It’s not an exact science — if it was, my wedges would have already had 12-yard gaps between them —  but it’s a good starting point.

The achieve more consistent wedge gaps, I have two choices, as many of you will as well:

  1. Bend the wedges I already have to lofts that create the yardage gaps I want.
  2. Identify what wedge lofts aren’t working for me, and replace them with new models.

Altering the loft of a wedge, which involves bending it weaker or stronger, changes more than loft — it also changes the bounce angle on the wedge’s sole, as well as its amount of offset. Adding loft increases bounce and removes offset, while decreasing loft decreases bounce and adds offset.

Most PGA Tour players are generally ok with bending their wedges 1-to-2 degrees, but after that the look and performance of a wedge will start to become noticeably affected.

I’m sure that some of you reading this story wish your 52-degree wedge went a little farther, shorter, whatever, but don’t have access to a loft/lie machine.

If you’re in the market for new wedges, and want to dial in your distances without needing to bend the lofts, there is a viable option — Ben Hogan wedges. The company’s new TK-15 wedges are offered in every loft between 45 and 62 degrees, meaning that each wedge is designed to be played at a specific loft. That allows the sole grinds and bounce characteristics stay consistent from loft to loft.

Regardless of what wedges you buy, however, make sure you get to the course or to a Trackman to figure out how far your wedges fly. That will help you understand what lofts you need to fill the troublesome gaps in your wedge game.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Jim

    Dec 8, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Nice article, but you’re possibly missing one group of us that carry multiple wedges that not only gap distances but also elicit different feels for touch shots. I currently carry PW, UW, 52 and 56 degree wedges. I’d rather open up a 56 in a sand shot than use a higher lofted wedge (I had one several years ago and it doesn’t agree with me). I think there’s a lot to be said for being creative with shots too and not simply relying on the loft. Just my thought.

  2. Derek

    Dec 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Great read Tom! I tried 3 wedges but now happy with my sm4 52-12 and 58-06.
    I have a sm4 62-07 but didn’t get along with the grind. The grind (feel and turf interaction) for me is the biggest thing with sand/ lob wedges.
    Having two wedges does make life simpler and I also try to play 100 or 50m from the green to avoid all thes different chip yardages. I saw Phil mickelson talk about understanding your yardage for a 3/4 backswing to full follow through and then a 1/2 and 1/4 backswing which is easy to remember on the course. You can do the same but grip down Whig should take off 20m. Once you have a yardage and shot system life is a lot easier

  3. KK

    Dec 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    If many pros have 5 or 6 degree gaps between wedges, we lowly ams should probably have 6 or 8 degree gaps.

  4. Scooter McGavin

    Dec 5, 2015 at 9:18 am

    If you have access to a golf shop that can fit and sell you those Hogan wedges, you have access to a shop that can bend your lofts for less than $5.

  5. Steve

    Dec 5, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Another infomercial, wedge gapping is fundamenatally easy. Pw, 52,58 for me. Used to play a 54 but as pw became more 9i had to adjust

  6. Robert

    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    I was always trying to find the perfect gaps carrying 4 wedges. I’ve now settled on just my 714 AP2 PW and my 30 year old Bu Eye2 SW (57.5*). Sometimes what works is nowhere near what you initially thought.

  7. Thomas

    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Under what will seem like a shameless plug but is in reality my sharing what I think is a great solution, a suggestion. If you’re serious about getting fit for wedges, go to Titleist’s pro fitting facility at Manchester Lane.

    I went for a fitting because I wasn’t happy with my gapping (apropos!) and I wasn’t happy with rough interaction with my 60, which is my main chipping / pitching club. They have the facilities to make it a meaningful exercise. Notably, it was range with a trackman for 45 minutes and most importantly short game for 45-60 minutes with all the shots – green side fairway and rough, short and long bunker, flip wedges. I wanted to beg off hitting the 70-85 yard flip wedges, but my fitter cajoled me to confirming that I liked the turf interaction, flight, and landing characteristics on the actual green. All this while using the specific ball I play (V1x).

    It’s spendy – $200 for the service alone. You get specs and then have to go order. But I found it well worth the money. (So much so that I’m going to Oceanside in January to try a driver fitting.)

    For those who might be curious, I played MP-68s bent really weak so had a 50* PW, 56* vokey sm4-12, and 60-10 (or 12?) K grind. Had a 20 gap between PW and 56. Had trouble through rough with 60. I ended up with a 50-08 F grind (less bounce that PW which was up to 11*) so much better through the turf, a 56-12 S bent to 55*, and a 60* TVD low bounce K which has been so much better with a slightly smaller head and less depth bunch continued wide flange.

  8. Marc

    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    I have 46-50-54-58 with carry yardages of 115-103-90-77

    I feel comfortable with any yardage within these gaps. It dialing in the 45 yard shots that need some extra work.

  9. Dangeruss21

    Dec 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I want to do a wedge / full iron gapping and living in the northeast with cold weather on it way, would you recommend I do a gapping on the indoor trackman or wait until Spring when we can do it outdoors? Is there a difference when gapping on the trackman?

    • Dangeruss21

      Dec 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      What did you do to gap your wedges? Indoor / outdoor?

  10. Dj

    Dec 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Honestly, most people should not even carry anything higher than a sand wedge. I’ve never seen a 10 handicap hit a 60* well

    • Tom

      Dec 5, 2015 at 11:52 am

      generalizing.

    • KK

      Dec 5, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      I disagree. I think the vast majority of bunker shots should be played with a 58 or 60 for casual golfers, let alone 10 handicaps. It’s also a must for tight approach or scramble shots with lower spin balls used by many casual golfers. I’m a 16 HCP and my 60 is my 2nd or 3rd favorite club and probably my #2 club that elicits complements from my playing buds.

      • Joe Golfer

        Jan 18, 2016 at 12:37 am

        That is potentially correct, but many of those 58* or 60* wedges are definitely NOT sand wedges.
        They are lob wedges, and they have very little bounce on them.
        I have an old, old sand wedge that is 60*, but it has a lot of bounce on it.
        It is wonderful for sand shots, but not much good for anything else in my personal case due to difficulty in hitting a 60* wedge from fairway.
        If a player has a typical 60* wedge, it very well may be a lob wedge with little bounce on it, so it won’t be very good for sand play.

        • Nath

          Apr 25, 2016 at 8:30 am

          Unless you have very little sand in bunkers

  11. Atomic Wedge

    Dec 4, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    46-52-58 for me. An extra club off the tee is more important for me.

  12. Dan K

    Dec 4, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I have 4 wedges with mostly a 4 degree gap – 47, 52, 56, 60. My yardages are about 12 yards apart on a comfortable full swing – 138, 125, 112, 100. I can say I rarely try to hit a full 60 as it would spin off most of the greens at the course I play. The grooves on my SW are a bit worn down so I don’t mind hitting that at full. Typically I play 80-85% shots vs swinging hard with my 52,56 and 60 to cover 115, 100 and 85. I spend more time working on these gaps than any other club on the range when practicing and usually wrap up my pre-round practice getting a feel for my 80-85% shot.

  13. BD57

    Dec 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I carry 4 wedges 45-50-56-62 for yardages. While I can’t say I’m super precise with them, in general terms, they’re good for 115, 100, 85, and 70 yards. If I need something in between, choking down a bit takes care of it.

  14. Jack F

    Dec 4, 2015 at 11:29 am

    The hardest part for me isn’t the gap, since I feel yardages shorter than a full SW. The issue for me is a upright lie at address. During the full swing, you get deflection in the shaft so the club naturally flattens, but with half shots or chips, the shaft just doesn’t deflect. I have found that managing toe down on a full swing is easier to manage than trying to set up and finesse a pitch/chip with the toe too high. Therefore, my wedges (PW on down) are all flatter lie than my 9-iron on up. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but it’s how I set up my wedges.

  15. Chris

    Dec 4, 2015 at 11:18 am

    You people need to lighten up. Bunch of whiners and complainers. The author goes over a very important aspect of golf here – who cares if he drops a name or two. Get over it already. You people make it almost unbearable to even read these things.

    • Nath

      Apr 25, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Yea sure, and i was expecting to read an advertisement

  16. Jay

    Dec 4, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Tom, just curious if you feel that your 50* may be a slightly more upright lie than the other wedges, as it seems to be the only wedge that missed the center line, with the entire grouping left of center.

  17. Tom

    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Wow the Titleist crowd gets bent if another brand is mentioned.

  18. Get it together WRXer's

    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:05 am

    How in the world is this a shameless plug for Hogan? They are doing something that entirely ties into the article. Tom is on staff with TM and they don’t own Hogan. Here is how the rest of his search goes, he bends his wedges until he gets the lofts and yardage gaps he wants and then orders them from TM. Great article Tom, it shows an aspect of club fitting that is often overlooked by players and fitters.

    • Joe Golfer

      Jan 18, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Totally agree with you. This is not a “shameless plug” for Hogan.
      If Hogan happens to sell wedges that one can purchase at just 1* difference, many people may be interested in that rather than bending their current wedges, which changes their bounce and offset, as the article states.

  19. That Bob Guy

    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    So, the playing length of each wedge plays no role in distance gaps? I understood gaps were divided 50/50, between loft and length.

  20. Mikko U

    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:13 am

    The article was good until the last three paragraphs. I was expecting the author to go through the search for new wedges and show us the results.

    Unfortunately the article was just an add for Hogan.

  21. Chris

    Dec 4, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I really enjoyed the article until the shameless Ben Hogan wedge plug.

  22. Teaj

    Dec 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Great articular. I work in golf and I see the standard 4 deg gap go out the door everyday which I have also fell into myself. This year the 50, 54, 58 is going to change as I feel my 58 isn’t quite enough loft around the green and I never use the 54 other than full shots. keeping the 50 as it bending the 54 to 55 and I am going to purchase a 60 degree at some point before the spring which works out as the 58 has been used and abused for the last 2 seasons.

    Summer hurry up and get back here as I have already got the itch.

    • Josh

      Dec 4, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      You read my mind. I was also thinking of bending my PW one weak to 47, bending the 54 to 53 and bending the 58 to 59 giving 6 degree gaps and adding a 5 wood or 3 hybrid to the setup up top…

      • Manuel

        Dec 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm

        Exactly what I have and has worked fine for years as a 2 cap. My current PW is 47 and use a 54 bent to 53 and a 60. The 60 is by far the most important club for me as I do like to get aggressive around the greens with numerous flop shots.

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Instruction

Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

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As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

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Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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