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
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
- 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:
- Bend the wedges I already have to lofts that create the yardage gaps I want.
- 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.
Clark: On learning golf
“A true teacher will teach how to think, not what to think”
There are several versions of the above adage, but when you teach every day, you get to see this up close and personal. In my opinion, all a teacher can do is to guide you as to what happens when you hit a golf ball. The student has to discover what works for them to achieve better results. It is that simple. The internet is loaded with “how-to” info, and some of it might actually apply to your individual issue, but do yourself a big favor: Go beat some balls and see how it goes; try this, try that, repeat steps one and two!
Let’s take turning as a classic example. If someone were to ask a teacher HOW to turn, there could be a dozen answers. What the teacher, the data, video show is simply this: You are NOT turning. Let’s try this, let’s try that, no, how about this? There are an unlimited number of ways, but the student needs to: FIRST, realize the lack or incorrectness of turn, and SECOND, find a way to do it. Any way, YOUR way. This is called participating in your learning and discovering process. When Ben Hogan said: “the secret is in the dirt,” this is precisely what he was referring to.
I have a short section each day in my golf school dedicated to the ballistics of impact. A student needs to know exactly what happens at impact. And when you know what produces good flight, then find what you personally are doing to violate those laws. How to correct an open and/or closed clubface means nothing to a student who doesn’t know what open or closed actually is, or does. Swing path and its relationship to clubface resulting in ball flight curvature is knowledge every teacher has, but is like rocket science to the student who knows none of this. I once had a student who thought his shanks were coming off the toe! When I told him that just the opposite was happening, he immediately moved away from the ball a little and stopped shanking (there were other reasons he shanked but just that much knowledge got him off the hosel!)
In order to correct anything, anything at all, it is first necessary to discover the problem and find a way, any way to correct it. No teacher, book, TV tip, or article can do what you can do for yourself. All the teacher might do is make you aware of the problem. But in the end, just go play and try this, that and the other thing. The answer is there, believe me, the answer is in you. You have to find it!
The problem, very often, is that golfers are looking for someone to offer them a light bulb moment, a flash of “aha,” the “I’ve-got-it-now” solution. The aha moment is the only way to get sustained improvement, but it must come from you, the individual. There is no universal “light-bulb moment,” it is uniquely-yours alone to discover. As I’ve said before, “it’s not what I cover, it’s what you discover.” Discover what? That “thing” you can grasp and go hit ball after ball until you have, at least to a functional degree, internalized it!
Good luck on your personal journey!
On a personal note, this will be my final article for GolfWRX. I have written 100-plus articles over the last 10 years or so and I have thoroughly enjoyed helping all of you who read my articles.
If you read through them on some rainy day, you’ll notice a theme: “If this, then that.” Meaning: If your golf ball is consistently doing that, try this. The articles are all archived on this site, and I am writing a book about my life on the lesson tee. It has been a labor of love as my whole career has been. There is no greater joy in my professional life than seeing the look on a golfers face and feel the joy within them when they improve. The minute that slice straightens, or that ground ball goes up in the air, is a special bond and a shared joy in the student-teacher relationship.
But I’ve said most of what I think is pertinent and anything after this would be redundant. There is now a plethora of how-to info out there, and I personally feel the reader may begin to think he/she should do this or that as opposed to thinking “I should try to discover this or that through my own personal exploration.”
If any of you wish to contact me directly regarding help with your game, you know how to do so. But do remember this: You cannot learn golf from words or pictures. My advice is to get a good teacher to look at you a few times, then go out and find the answer in the dirt. Golf is a game to played. And in that playing, in that trial-and-error process, you will find things that will help you achieve better outcomes. No one owns this game: We only to get to borrow it from time to time!
Me and My Golf: The basics of playing golf
In this week’s Impact Show, we give you week one of our brand new FREE coaching plan How To Play Golf: The Basics! This plan is ideal for all golf beginners and for any experienced golfers who would like to improve their golf swing, where they will be provided with the best golf tips and get back down to the basics of golf! In the first week, we will guide you through: the grip, ball position, and stance as we begin to show you the perfect golf set up. We also run you through two golfing myths and concepts that will help improve your backswing, through swing, and the impact you make with the golf ball.
Kyle Berkshire’s long drive wisdom wins!
This one is a doozie! So many awesome elements to take away from Kyle Berkshire and implement them immediately in your golf swing for effortless power in the swing. From the set up with strong grip to the timing mechanism to start the action and give it a heavy flow, to the huge backswing and massive load in the ground in the transition to the deepest delivery towards the target there is in the sport! Watch and learn long ball wisdom right here.
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