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Opinion & Analysis

The 48 “essential” items every golfer has in their bag

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After a winter of snow and cold, golfers get excited for their emergence from golf hibernation. This thought usually peaks when we get our first glimpse of the hallowed turf at Augusta during the Masters in April. We instantly get that Pavlov’s dog, watering-in-the-mouth desire to play. So off we go to hunt out the clubs from the garage, attic or shed and get ourselves in golf mode. And with that usually comes the annual bag clean-out.

Golfers know the rules enforcing a maximum of 14 clubs in a bag, but as far as I’m aware, there is no rule as to the amount of “stuff” one can carry in his or her bag. The realization that your bag now weighs 80 pounds (and getting it from your car to you cart is a health hazard) makes you think, “Do I really need all this stuff?”

Akin to the contents of a women’s purse, the golf bag is considered personal space. It’s filled with all sorts of goodies, essentials and lucky charms that golfers needs to survive for the few hours they spend on the golf course.

You decide to do a quick stock check and start opening the multiple compartments, slots and pockets on your bag. After 15 minutes of digging around and removing these items, you’re faced with an array of stuff on the floor that could easily start a yard sale. So you resolve to declutter, archiving the non-essential items.

Here’s what you’re likely to encounter:

  1. Enough balls to start your own mini-range, most of which have seen better days.
  2. An assortment of tees, ranging from wooden to plastic to brush in different shapes, sizes and colors, including at least one naked-lady tee.
  3. Ball markers: a selection of coins, as well as plastic and metal discs with sponsors or club motifs. You only ever use that lucky one you’ve had since you were 11.
  4. Seventeen pencils, usually only half of which can write or have lead.
  5. At least one edition of the rules of golf, so badly ripped and dog-eared by successive soakings that it is like an Egyptian relic when you attempt to use it.
  6. Spare change that has accumulated each week of the previous five golfing seasons. Added up, it’s enough to send your kid through college.
  7. Pitch mark repairers in an assortment of designs, colors and materials including that Scotty Cameron one that cost a fortune, but still does exactly the same job.
  8. Those four incompatible wrenches for the multiple drivers you have consumed in the last five years.
  9. A rangefinder with spare batteries.
  10. A waterproof jacket and trousers — taken off, stuffed away and forgotten about after that last soaking you got. They now smell like a vagabond’s crotch.
  11. A windproof top crumpled down to the size of an orange.
  12. Several faded caps, beanies and visors, all displaying mold, sweat stains, or other bodily fluids.
  13. Winter mittens for those “cold” early-morning July tee times.
  14. At least 10 golf gloves, most of which either have holes or rigor mortis-like rigidity, including a right-handed one should you ever face the dilemma of trying a shot left-handed.
  15. Rain gloves that have developed blue mold.
  16. Energy and chocolate bars, most of which passed their expiration date several months ago.
  17. An array of bags of nuts/crackers/trail mix/beef jerky and other consumables.
  18. A bottle opener/cork screw.
  19. Either a banana or apple that has leaked into a black goo at the bottom of the bag.
  20. Eye drops.
  21. A comb that is at least 15 years old.
  22. Sunglasses, possibly two pairs. One wraparound and a pair that you actually use.
  23. Sticking plasters (Band-Aids) for cuts, grazes, blisters and other severe golfing injuries.
  24. Deep Heat/Mentholatum/Tiger Balm or similar witches potions to loosen those weary/arthritic bones.
  25. An assortment of medications ranging from mild pain killers, anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines through to hallucinogens and anti-depressants (for those tougher days on the links).
  26. Insect repellent.
  27. Baby wipes/tissues.
  28. Sun cream (sun screen). In Ireland, it acts as a thermal insulator in cold weather. Long-distance swimmers smear themselves in grease for the same reason.
  29. Lip balm in an assortment of fruit flavours and colors.
  30. A cigar/cigarettes and a lighter, and possibly chewing tobacco.
  31. Several Sharpies in an array of colors, most of which have lost their cap and are dried out.
  32. A small hip flask of hooch, half-filled with some cheap intoxicant, probably whiskey.
  33. At least one half-drunk plastic soda or energy-drink bottle.
  34. Amino Vital packets to add to water, which for some reason are next to a flare gun and compass.
  35. An array of scorecards and yardage books built up over several seasons, which you felt compelled to hold onto.
  36. Membership and visitor tags from at least one top-100 course that you always brag about playing.
  37. An umbrella, the only one the wife hasn’t “borrowed” and failed to return.
  38. An extra pair of socks. Maybe even clean ones!
  39. Alignment rods with matching impact stickers. An indication of how seriously you take your game.
  40. Ball retriever. Note to self: make sure to change the worn-out grip.
  41. Putter headcover that was an essential when you first bought that priceless flat stick, but the magnetic closure is now broken and it keeps falling off. You actually thought you had lost it.
  42. Iron covers (which you justify keeping for travel). Two of them were lost.
  43. Extra spikes and a wrench.
  44. A rain hood.
  45. A club-cleaning wire brush, on which you’ve cut yourself on several times and sworn to get rid of… but never do.
  46. A Swiss Army knife.
  47. A magic sponge for cleaning your ball, which you got as a Christmas present five years ago.
  48. At least one extra towel, “borrowed” from the clubhouse.

Then there’s the several mystery items and things you thought you had lost like the spare car keys. You feel like Indiana Jones recovering this stuff.

And don’t forget you need to leave that last pocket, the valuable’s pocket, with enough space for your wallet, money clip, mobile phone(s), car keys, rings and all those other essential items that you will need to safely store during your round.

Your inner self tells you to chuck half of this crap, but you are conflicted. There may well be an occasion when you need that fifth glove or you lose your 37th ball of the day. Or you will find yourself starving to death or dying of dehydration on the 7th hole.

So you resolve to buy a bigger bag.

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Mark Donaghy is a writer and author from Northern Ireland, living in the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart. He is married to Christine and they have three boys. Mark is a "golf nut," and is lucky to be a member of a classic links, Portstewart Golf Club. At college he played for the Irish Universities golf team, and today he still deludes himself that he can play to that standard. He recently released Caddy Attitudes: 'Looping' for the Rich and Famous in New York. It recounts the life experiences of two young Irish lads working as caddies at the prestigious Shinnecock Hills course in the Hamptons. Mark has a unique writing style, with humorous observations of golfers and their caddies, navigating both the golf course and their respective attitudes. Toss in the personal experiences of a virtually broke couple of young men trying to make a few bucks and their adventures in a culture and society somewhat unknown to them... and you have Caddy Attitudes. From scintillating sex in a sand trap to the comparison of societal status with caddy shack status, the book will grab the attention of anyone who plays the game. Caddy Attitudes is available on Amazon/Kindle and to date it has had excellent reviews.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. don d.

    Mar 4, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Reminded me of my caddy days. A member I always got stuck with actually counted his balls and gloves and went through his bag after every round. Needless to say he paid minimum for maximum effort.

    • steve

      Mar 4, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Counting his Balls! How much were you tipped

  2. SirShives

    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I was once paired with a fellow who for the entirety of the round continued to produce beer out of his bag. Not just a couple of cans of beer mind you, more like the entire case. Guy drank from start to finish, loads his clubs back in the car at then end of the round, and heads home. I bet any beers that weren’t drunk on the course didn’t sit around in his bag until his next round.

  3. cb

    Mar 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    great list! i lost it when i saw the wire bush one. thats happened too many times to count

  4. ND

    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Am I the only person who walks? No wonder America has an obesity problem.

  5. steve

    Mar 3, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I know a lot of tour pros have this in their bags, weed and a onehitter

    • devilsadvocate

      Mar 5, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Actually you’d be surprised how many do

      • steve

        Mar 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

        I have a friend that’s been a tour caddy for 20 years with various players and he tells me that most do

  6. RoGar

    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    A bag, 13 clubs, 10 tees, 5 balls, 2 gloves, and rangefinders…Period!!!

  7. Mat

    Mar 2, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    What? Who does this?
    Clubs, dozen balls, tees, laser, marker, repair tool. I wear my gamegolf, but it stores in the bag. The bag has a hanging towel and a brush.
    Man, you guys think too much!

    • that guy

      Mar 3, 2016 at 12:07 am

      1 dozen balls is 6 too many… if you need more than that to get through a round god help you

      • Mat

        Mar 3, 2016 at 4:24 am

        I didn’t say I needed them for a round… sometimes a dozen is a good amount for practice. Don’t be *that guy*.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Mar 3, 2016 at 8:36 am

        One dozen balls is 11 too many for real players…

        • Double Mocha Man

          Mar 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

          I like to carry lots of balls so I can toss ’em to the gallery after every putt out.

  8. Navy Mustang

    Mar 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I once had most of the necessities listed. Until I decided to go old school – walk and carry. Goodbye umbrella, ball retriever, and a whole lot of other crap. Just me against the course.

  9. kn

    Mar 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t even have half of this stuff in my bag. Only 21 of the 48. But NO rain gear or “vagabond’s crotch” smell. I have my standards.

  10. Butch

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I have all those plus a pair of “reader” glasses and some “golf mints” (motrin)!

  11. Mike Honcho

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    A comb? Seriously! Even if you even own a comb much less have one in your golf bag, you’d be made so much fun of in our group that by #4 you’d be asking the marshal to give you a ride back to the clubhouse.

  12. Regis

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Well Done. One minor change for me. Since I enjoy a cigar on the back nine I carry two (one plus a backup) triple flame cigar lighters. They are filled with premium fuel and are tested before I set out. Nothing ruins a good round or makes a bad round worse than deciding that now is the time for my cigar (or trying to re-light it) and finding out its a no-go, usually in the snottiest weather at a point farthest from the clubhouse.

  13. Abother Lefty

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Is there a nail clipper on that swiss army knife

  14. Tim

    Mar 2, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    It is amazing how much stuff accumulates in a golf bag over the course of a season. Once or twice a season I audit my stash. I have to admit I am guilty of hording ball markers. I only use one, but I have a slue of backups should my lucky one come up missing. Also, I must have 10 divot tools, but only use the same one from Crooked Tree. Golfers are very peculiar creatures. A good lot of us actually carry these bags on our backs. We must be gluttons for punishment.

    Tim

  15. John Muir

    Mar 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Excellent, Mark. I have most of the 48 in my bag, #49 an old empty beer can with a little warm beer at the bottom of the can.
    John Muir

  16. John

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    6 balls, 15-20 tees, glove, 2 ball markers and one pitch mark tool is all I carry… I keep it very simple!

    • Scott

      Mar 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      so you are the one…

    • mhendon

      Mar 2, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      No he’s not the only one. Add a range finder and subtract the two ball markers. My ball marker is part of the pitch mark tool.

    • Mat

      Mar 2, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Definitely not the only one. Atta boy.

    • that guy the caddie

      Mar 3, 2016 at 12:08 am

      amen. you must have been under the strap at some point.

  17. Geo

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Love this I have at least 20% of this stuff and now know what to collect and gather over my next 10 years.

  18. Walker

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Just get a mackenzie golf bag, you wont have any pockets to put all this stuff, nor will you have any money left to buy anything to put in the bag.

  19. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 2, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Funny stuff! Anyone who has a bag like this definitely needs to use a power cart. I outfit my bag light and lean for carrying or rolling. The only excess in my bag is that golf ball emblazoned with the word “Dad” that my son gave to me for Father’s Day 10 years ago. Every time I am lucky enough to play a Top 100 golf course I use it for one hole, for good luck. Currently is has Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach and Chambers Bay DNA smeared all over it.

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Opinion & Analysis

So you wanna work in golf media…

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I get this question all the time: “So, how does someone get a job in golf media?”

Hmm…I could give you a bunch of tips, ideas, resume suggestions, etc. I’m not going to. All I know is how I got here. It’s a story of passion, initiative, blind luck, God, and desperation.

I feel like in the telling of how I got here you will see a path but not the only path.

My story—condensed into the point golf gear took over my life.

It’s 1993, and I’m a sophomore in high school at John F. Kennedy Memorial in Burien, Washington. I was a baseball player my whole life, and for whatever reason that summer, I decided it wasn’t for me anymore, and I wanted to go scrub clubs, pick balls and have the occasional lung dart with my buddies at the local country club. At that time, golf was something to me just shy of an afterthought. I had played the occasional short 9 as a kid, went to a camp or two, but in all honesty, it was just another game.

Fast forward to my first week working at Rainier G&CC—the second assistant was a guy named Mike Montegomery (DOG at Glendale CC now), and he took me to the range to help pick balls and hit some into the net. After about 30 mins of pounding balls, I was hooked. Hook, line, and sinker.

I’m an obsessive person by nature, so when I get into something, it becomes a bit scary—I want to know everything. That’s when the equipment junkie revealed himself, and it all started with a trip to the dentist and an issue of Golf Digest.

This one…

Golf Digest, February issue, 1993

This magazine started the whole thing. No, it wasn’t the fact that Phil Mickelson graced the cover, it was the advertisements. The color codes of Ping, the black and gold of Cobra, Titleist Tour Balata, Founders Club, and on and on. Everything looked just so damn awesome. I wanted to try, see, touch and feel everything I could. And I did. From that point, until even today, golf and golf gear dominate a good chunk of my thoughts every day.

Lesson #1: To do this job well….you have to obsessed.

Now we are in 2005. I’m working in Irvine, California, for LendingTree slanging equity loans to the A paper client,s and in the search engine, I type David Duval golf clubs…

Before I go further it must be acknowledged that my good friend Nico Bollini and I used to spend HOURS on Getty images and at the local Wajamaya scouring pictures of players bags in Golf Classic magazine and any close-ups Getty would catch. Instead of going to parties and chasing girls as normal people do, we were trying to see what shaft Ray Floyd had in his Bridgestone J’s driver.

Back to DD. I type in “David Duval golf clubs,” and I land on this weird forum thing called BombSquad Golf. It was a site that not only talked gear in-depth like Nico and I did, but they had some dude taking pics at tour events. It was golf porn. I was in. Eventually, BSG became nothing, and Richard Audi and GolfWRX.com took over. That story is very well told, so I won’t go into it.

That fueled my golf junkie for a long time. It wasn’t until 2012 and the urging from my then-girlfriend that I began writing for WRX. Since I was on the site so much and had so many opinions, she jokingly said, “You should write for them,” to which I replied, “I should.”

This is where luck comes in. I found the contact info at the bottom of the site and ended emailing Zak, the editor at the time.

“Hi Zak,

My name is John Wunder and I am extremely excited and interested in writing for Golfwrx! I have been a member of this site for over 6 years now and I have always admired the professionalism and in-depth coverage that your site provides. I am what they would call in the golfing streets a “Junky”. Tour news, college news, equipment trends, companies, in the bag info, history, etc. You name it, I know it. I’m a lifer and the only thing I have left to do to get my fix is either learn how to putt and play the mini-tours or start writing. Unfortunately, even the belly putter was of no use to me so writing it is! As writing goes my experience is limited with the exception of the occasional Facebook comment but my knowledge of the game and its culture is undeniable.  I’m dying to be apart of this thing and if I had not been scrolling to the bottom of the page I would not have noticed the link to you. Maybe it’s a sign from the Golfing Gods, you never know. Any information you can give would be much appreciated.  I Look forward to hearing from you.”

Lesson #2: You won’t know what’s possible until you ask.

Eventually, Zak gave me a shot and from 2012 to 2018 I wrote roughly 30-40 articles for WRX. For fun, for free, for the love of the game. I wrote opinion pieces, did some video articles, reviews, tournament recaps, etc. Every time they asked, I said HELL YES. Why not? Golf content is what I think about all day anyway. It requires no real study or extra work to execute. It’s something I can just sit down and do, sometimes quickly.

Now we find ourselves in 2018. It’s late January. My son Seve had just been born and my main source of income at the time (film/tv) was slow and unpredictable. I had two months of savings left, no consistent income coming in to speak of, and with two kids and my girl that I am supporting. Things got scary. Desperate is a better word. In that desperation, a decision was made. I wanted to finally do the thing I’ve always wanted to do. Work in the golf business.

I sat down and mapped out my plan…

Lesson #3: Don’t be afraid of desperation. God can be found there.

But how? What can I bring to the table?

Remember obsession? Remember the power of asking?

I knew my knowledge of the tour and golf equipment was abnormal, to say the least. It still is. I knew that I had a Rolodex to choke a horse, and I had the email of someone at WRX that I could plead my case to. The editor at the time, Andrew Tursky. My email to him was very similar to my email to Zak. I plainly told what I wanted to do, why they needed me, and left it at that.

The term the squeaky wheel gets the grease is so true in my case—every job I have ever chased, there were two things I made sure were in place…

  1. I knew my passion equaled my knowledge
  2. I was willing to hear NO multiple times until the right YES came along.

Lesson #4: Know where you want to go (and tell people).

That email turned into a face-to-face with the GolfWRX brass, to a “yes we will hire you,” to getting a job doing what I love.

The job I was hired for has mutated into something way different. Every person at GolfWRX.com does multiple jobs—there is really no definitive titles or boxes we fit in. It’s a passionate, nimble crew and to a person, everyone is a golf junkie degenerate, including the owner, Rich. That was the deciding factor of going down this path. Yes, I wanted the job, but after meeting Richard Audi and discovering he was just as crazy as I am, I knew I had to work for that man.

The moral of the story is this: Golf media is not a box anymore. You don’t need a degree in journalism or your doctorate in Bill Shakespeare.  It’s the time of the hustler. So, if you have something to say, say it, something to show, show it, and most importantly if you want to get in, ASK. ASK. ASK. Someone will say yes eventually and when they do, what you do with that YES is up to you.

Hope this gives you a hint that like anything else, there is not one door, there are multiple. Knock, scream, kick, and do it with some fire.

Lesson #5: ANYTHING is possible if you want it bad enough

 

 

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Instruction

Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes

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There’s a saying in golf that, paraphrasing here, it’s the person holding the weapon, not the weapon. Basically, if you hit a bad shot, it’s almost certain that it was your fault, not the fault of the golf club. It has a better design than your swing. And while that truism is often correct, it ain’t necessarily so.

For example, if I were to try to hit one of those long drive drivers, I’d probably mis-hit it so badly that the ball might not be findable. That stick is way too long, stiff, and heavy for me. Similarly, if I were to use one of those senior flex drivers, I’d probably hit it badly, because it would be too floppy for my swing. It’s clear that there are arrows that this Indian can’t shoot well. Maybe a pro could adapt to whatever club you put in his hand, but there’s no reason he would accept less than a perfect fit. And there’s little reason why any amateur ought to accept less than a good fit.

I was never a competitive athlete, although I’m a competitive person. My path led a different direction, and as my medical career reached its mature years, I was introduced to our wonderful and frustrating game.

Being one who hates playing poorly, I immediately sought instruction. After fifteen years, multiple instructors, a wallet full of videos, and a wall full of clubs, I am finally learning how to do one particularly vexing part of the game reasonable well. I can chip! But as you may have guessed, the largest part of this journey has to do with the arrow, not the Indian.

We may immediately dismiss the golf shaft as a significant issue since chipping generally involves a low-speed movement. And as long as the grip is a reasonable fit for the hands, it’s not a big deal either. The rubber meets the road at the clubhead.

Manufacturers have worked hard to get the best ball spin out of the grooves. Their shape is precisely milled, and then smaller grooves and roughness are added to the exact maximum allowed under the rules. Various weighting schemes have been tried, with some success in tailoring wedges to players. And some manufacturers market the “newest” designs to make it impossible to screw up wedge shots. And yet, nothing seemed to solve my yips.

So I went on a mission. I studied all sorts of chipping techniques. Some advocate placing the ball far back to strike a descending blow. Others place it near the center of the stance. The swing must have no wrist hinge. The swing must have a hinge that is held. It should be a short swing. It should be a long swing. The face should be square. The face should be open. There should be a “pop.” There should be no power added.

If you are confused, join my club. So I went on a different mission. I started looking at sole construction. Ever since Gene Sarazen popularized a sole with bounce for use in the sand, manufacturers have been creating massive numbers of “different” sand wedges. They have one thing in common. They are generally all built to 55 or 56-degrees of loft.

The basic design feature of the sand wedge is that the sole extends down and aft from the leading edge at some angle. This generally ranges from 6 to 18-degrees. Its purpose is to allow the wedge to dig into the sand, but not too far. As the club goes down into the sand, the “bounce” pushes it back up.

 

One problem with having a lot of bounce on the wedge is that it can’t be opened up to allow certain specialty shots or have a higher effective loft. When the player does that, the leading edge lifts, resulting in thin shots. So manufacturers do various things to make the wedge more versatile, typically by removing bounce in the heel area.

At my last count, I have eight 56-degree wedges in my collection. Each one was thought to be a solution to my yips. Yet, until I listened to an interview with Dave Edel, I had almost no real understanding of why I was laying sod over a lot of my chips. Since gardening did not reduce my scores, I had to find another solution.

My first step was to look at the effective loft of a wedge in various ball positions. (Pictures were shot with the butt of the club at the left hip, in a recommended forward lean position. Since the protractor is not exactly lined up with the face, the angles are approximate.)

I had no idea that there was so much forward lean with a simple chip. If I were to use the most extreme rearward position, I would have to have 21-degrees of bounce just to keep the leading edge from digging in at impact. If there were the slightest error in my swing, I would be auditioning for greenskeeper.

My appreciation for the pros who can chip from this position suddenly became immense. For an amateur like me, the complete lack of forgiveness in this technique suddenly removed it from my alleged repertoire.

My next step was to look at bounce. As I commented before, bounce on sand wedges ranges between 6 and 18-degrees. As the drawing above shows, that’s a simple angle measurement. If I were to chip from the forward position, a 6-degree bounce sand wedge would have an effective bounce of 1-degree. That’s only fractionally better than the impossible chip behind my right foot. So I went to my local PGA Superstore to look at wedges with my Maltby Triangle Gauge in hand.

As you can see from the photos, there is a wide variation in wedges. What’s most curious, however, is that this variation is between two designs that are within one degree of the same nominal bounce. Could it be that “bounce is not bounce is not bounce?” Or should I say that “12-degrees is not 12-degrees is not 12-degrees?” If one looks below the name on the gauge, a curious bit of text appears. “Measuring effective bounce on wedges.” Hmmm… What is “effective bounce?”

The Maltby Triangle Gauge allows you to measure three things: leading-edge height, sole tangent point, and leading-edge sharpness. The last is the most obvious. If I’m chipping at the hairy edge of an adequate bounce, a sharp leading edge will dig in more easily than a blunt one. So if I’m using that far back ball position, I’ll need the 1OutPlus for safety, since its leading edge is the bluntest of the blunt. Even in that position, its 11-degree bounce keeps the leading edge an eighth of an inch up.

Wait a minute! How can that be? In the back position, the wedge is at 35-degrees effective loft, and 11-degrees of bounce ought to be 10-degrees less than we need. The difference here is found in combining all three parameters measured by the gauge, and not just the angle of the bounce.

The 1OutPlus is a very wide sole wedge. Its tangent point is a massive 1.7″ back. The leading edge rises .36″ off the ground and is very blunt. In other words, it has every possible design feature to create safety in case the chip from back in the stance isn’t as perfect as it might be. Since a golf ball is 1.68″ in diameter, that’s still less than halfway up to the center of the ball. But if you play the ball forward, this may not be the wedge for you.

Here are the measurements for the eight sand wedges that happen to be in my garage. All are either 56-degrees from the factory or bent to 56-degrees.

A couple of things jump out from this table. The Callaway PM Grind at 13-degrees has a lower leading edge (.26 inches) than the 11-degree Bazooka 1OutPlus (.36 inches). How can a lower bounce have a higher leading edge? Simple geometry suggests that if you want a higher leading edge, you will need a higher bounce angle. But it gets worse. The Wishon WS (wide sole) at 6-degrees (55-degree wedge bent to 56-degrees) has a leading-edge height of .28 inches, higher than the Callaway which has over twice the nominal bounce angle!

One thing is missing from this simple discussion of angles.

If I place one line at 34-degrees above the horizontal (loft is measured from the vertical), and then extend another at some angle below horizontal, the height above ground where the two join depends on how long the lower line is. This means that an 18-degree bounce with a narrow “C” grind will raise the leading edge a little bit. A 6-degree bounce on a wide sole may raise it more because the end of the bounce on the first wedge is so close to the leading edge.

 

Let’s look at this in the picture. If the red line of the bounce is very short, it doesn’t get far below the black ground line. But if it goes further, it gets lower. This is the difference between narrow and wide soles.

This diagram describes the mathematical description of these relationships.

Our first task is to realize that the angle 0 in this diagram is the complement of the 56-degree loft of the wedge, or 90 – 56 = 34-degrees since loft is measured from vertical, not horizontal. But the angle 0 in the bounce equation is just that, the bounce value. These two angles will now allow us to calculate the theoretical values of various parts of the wedge, and then compare them to our real-world examples.

My PM Grind Callaway wedge has its 3rd groove, the supposed “perfect” impact point, 0.54 inches above the leading edge. This should put it 0.8 inches back from the leading edge, roughly matching the measured 0.82 inches. So far, so good. (I’m using the gauge correctly!)

The 13-degree bounce at 1.14″ calculates out to 0.284″ of leading-edge rise. I measured 0.26″, so Callaway seems to be doing the numbers properly, until I realize that the leading edge is already .45″ back, given a real tangent of .69″. Something is out of whack. Re-doing the math suggests that the real bounce is 20-degrees, 40 min. Hmmm…

Maybe that bounce angle measurement isn’t such a good number to look at. Without digging through all the different wedges (which would make you cross-eyed), we should go back to basics. What is it that we really need?

Most instructors will suggest that striking the ball on about the third groove will give the best results. It will put the ball close to the center of mass (sweet spot) of the wedge and give the best spin action. If my wedge is at an effective 45-degree angle (about my right big toe), it will strike the ball about half-way up to its equator. It will also be close to the third groove. But to make that strike with minimal risk of gardening, I have to enough protection to keep the edge out of the turf if I mis-hit the ball by a little bit. That can be determined by the leading edge height! The higher the edge, the more forgiveness there is on a mis-hit.

Now this is an incomplete answer. If the bounce is short, with a sharp back side, it will tend to dig into the turf a bit. It may not do it a lot, but it will have more resistance than a wider, smoother bounce. In the extreme case, the 1OutPlus will simply glide over the ground on anything less than a ridiculous angle.

The amount of leading-edge height you need will depend on your style. If you play the ball forward, you may not need much. But as you move the ball back, you’ll need to increase it. And if you are still inconsistent, a wider sole with a smooth contour will help you avoid episodes of extreme gardening. A blunt leading edge will also help. It may slow your club in the sand, but it will protect your chips.

There is no substitute for practice, but if you’re practicing chips from behind your right foot using a wedge with a sharp, low leading edge, you’re asking for frustration. If you’re chipping from a forward position with a blunt, wide sole wedge, you’ll be blading a lot of balls. So look at your chipping style and find a leading-edge height and profile that match your technique. Forget about the “high bounce” and “low bounce” wedges. That language doesn’t answer the right question.

Get a wedge that presents the club to the ball with the leading edge far enough off the ground to provide you with some forgiveness. Then knock ’em stiff!

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Gear Dive: Barracuda winner Richy Werenski, also JJ and AD from the Titleist tour truck.

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On this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with the newly minted winner on the PGA Tour Richy Werenski and also checks-in with Aaron Dill and JJ Van Wezenbeeck from Team Titleist on what’s going down at the PGA Championship.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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