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Golf 101: What is bounce?

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Although I could pen a 2,000-word essay on the subject of “what is bounce,” that’s not the goal here. Instead, let’s paint a simple picture.

You are a new golfer looking to buy your first sand wedge because your buddy told you it was necessary. You enter your local shop and start looking at racks of wedges with numbers and letters. Loft? That’s simple enough. But what’s this other number—this “bounce” thing?

What is bounce?

When I explain it to new players, I use Bob Vokey’s “rudder” analogy. For soft sand, you need a bigger rudder (more bounce/wider sole) to move the sound out of the way. On firmer sand, you need a smaller rudder (less bounce/narrow sole) to keep the leading edge under the ball.

Basically, more bounce equals leading edge sits higher off the ground, less bounce means leading sits lower to the ground. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but this is for beginners so let’s keep it easy.

This is a VERY simple picture for those that are visual learners

Vokey’s Aaron Dill had this to say:

“Bounce is a combination of sole angles and shape that create forgiveness and versatility for all golfers.”

In simple terms, every golfer fits into a unique profile based on how they deliver the club at impact. Players that are steep tend to need a wedge with more bounce, shallow/sweepy/pickers prefer less bounce.

By the numbers: This is general, OEMs all have their own parameters for Low/Std/High but this will give you an idea

Low Bounce = 4-9 degrees

Std/High Bounce= 10-14 degrees

So when you are buying your first wedge (yes, just one, to begin with, a 56 degree), ask some questions, try some different options and if at all possible, more than any club in your bag, get to know that wedge like the back of your hand. As a new golfer, it will be the first club that will actually help your score.

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Jack Wullkotte

    Sep 9, 2020 at 11:03 am

    As far as I know, Toney Penna was the first club designer to incorporate bounce in designing iron heads. I believe it was in 1950. Prior to that, most irons had zero or minus bounce and laid wide open with extremely sharp leading edges. Toney also attempted to put 4 way roll on iron heads, but that never materialized. Just a little trivia from a 90 year old man who began working for the MacGregor Golf Co. in 1947.

  2. Ted Noel

    Sep 9, 2020 at 11:02 am

    This article is pablum. Bounce is not bounce is not bounce. Take the low bounce wedge and extend it further aft. You will get leading edge rise the same as a high bounce wedge. Thus, the key feature is leading edge rise. You can get it different ways, but your technique will determine how much leading edge rise you need. Further, leading edge shape will affect your shots. A sharp edge is less forgiving, while a more rounded edge will let you get away with some shots.

    We need to define wedges by 1) leading edge rise 2) leading edge profile 3) sole grind (for versatility). Bounce angle is worthless.

  3. Jack Nash

    Sep 9, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Important to consider bounce when chipping “against” the grain also. Lower bounce digs in more. Good article and explanation.

  4. Jim

    Sep 9, 2020 at 10:22 am

    I like the skid plate vs shovel analogy. Bounce is your friend For the average guy.

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