Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

A lob wedge is the most dangerous club in your bag—and not in a good way

Published

on

For professional golfers, a 60-degree lob wedge around the green could be classified as a surgical scalpel. Many pros—most notably Phil Mickelson—have built their reputations on the ability to hit miraculous recovery shots with these higher-lofted clubs. Phil has even gone as far as carrying a 64-degree wedge for extreme situations where it might come in handy.

For regular golfers though, higher-lofted wedges can end up being anything but scalpel-like, unless you plan on using one to shred your scorecard after the round. Higher lofted wedges can become a massive liability because of their limited margin for error and the speed at which they are swung. This is also why we see so many people trying to innovate in the wedge market—small changes for regular golfers can make a noticeable difference.

The benefits and dangers of the lob wedge

Being able to effectively use a lob wedge can save a lot of shots around the green, especially when faced with a short-sided up and down or a difficult buried lie, but the hardest part of an open-faced lob wedge shot is repeatability. It’s why you can feel like a hero on one hole, and a complete failure on the next—because the ball ended up exactly where it started…or it ends up on the other side of the green…

We’ve all done it!

Professionals at the highest level have the benefit of hitting these shots countless times in practice over and over, not just at their home course but week to week in varying conditions on different grass types. Most golfers don’t have this luxury, and without practice or understanding the dynamics of hitting the shot properly, the failure rate goes up quickly. This is why reasonable expectations, good decision making, and simple technique changes can make a big difference.

The WHY?

Wedges with 60 degrees of loft (and even 56 in some cases) look easy to hit since they have large faces which in turn equals greater surface area to make contact but face area versus effective face area to make contact are two completely different things.

Compared to a club with less loft, the most extreme being a driver, there is a smaller effective area to make contact and transfer energy to the ball, and beyond the transfer of energy, any club that has an effective loft of more than 50 degrees at impact will be more difficult to control in less than perfect conditions since the coefficient of friction decreases. That means you have less control over launch parameters including spin, which on short shots is one of the biggest components to stop the ball close to the intended target.

Solutions to your wedge problem

This one is the most obvious, but it’s also the least exciting: practice. By dedicating valuable practice time to the short game, you can quickly see improvements. Practice helps ingrain “feels” in your technique and also helps build up the knowledge to analyze ground conditions and lies to know which club to hit and how to play the shot.

The second option is a new wedge—come on, who doesn’t want a new wedge? Whether it be based on loft, bounce, or sole configuration, getting set up with the right tools can make a world of difference, especially if what you are using now is ill-fit to your game. If you really struggle with the short shots around the green and are willing to admit that practice isn’t an option, I highly recommend trying a specialty club designed to make the game easier. I know it’s not the “sexy” option but something like the Cutter CTR1 wedge: Cutter wedge -here to help,  or a Square Strike wedge for chipping can make golf fun and easier.

Learning to hit different shots, and making simple changes to how you approach the hole can make a huge difference very quickly to your game. This can involve choosing to hit more low running square faced shots with lower lofted-clubs like a 9 or 8-iron, or if you are still trying to be as aggressive as possible, learning to hit delofted shots with your higher lofted wedges which can also help create more spin. If possible, taking a short game lesson with a teacher can be truly game-changing with a few simple technique adjustments.

Understanding where you loose shots can help you save them

Last but not least, managing expectations can help take the pressure off when hitting shots around the green and help you make better decisions, leading to lower scores. Instead of trying to hit a “hero” flop shot over a bunker from a bad lie, aim for a larger part of the green and give yourself a better opportunity make your next shot—again not a magic cure, but if you do this a few more times in a round of golf, you can turn those wedges into weapons—and not weapons of self-destruction.

Your Reaction?
  • 589
  • LEGIT136
  • WOW23
  • LOL37
  • IDHT18
  • FLOP44
  • OB26
  • SHANK312

Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Pingback: Purchasing Your First Set Of Golf Irons – FAQs

  2. Pingback: From Sunday bags to club fitting: My favorite pieces of 2020 – GolfWRX

  3. steve jenney

    Oct 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    When I teach and I find a lot wedge in a 20 handicappers bag I say “there are only two people I know that can use this club” GOD and Tiger Woods! Michelson is so over rated its disgusting! Put in another hybrid or another wedge. 46, 49 52 and 56 at most.

  4. Dennis Beach

    Aug 8, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I usually use my 60* to make full swing shots. Trying to finesse a lob with a half swing is better left to the pros. Greenside bunkers where the green is higher than the sand is my go to 60* shot, especially if the green is eye level when you are in the bunker, as it requires a full swing to get up and on most of the time. My 56* is my all around chip/pitch club within 50 yards of the green. If the ground is level, I will use a pitching(46*)wedge to bump and run. I carry a 52*, but use mostly on full shots inside 100 yards of the green.

  5. christian

    Aug 1, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Hitting a lob wedge doesn’t need to be some big mysterious event. It’s the same as the rest of the irons in you bag. Keep your hands ahead of the ball at impact and you can hit a lob wedge just as effectively as a 4 iron. I don’t care if you’re hitting a one hop and stop pitch or a high soft lob, keep your shaft leaning forward and hands ahead of the ball at impact and you’ll hit 90% of them just fine. Everyone gets freaked out about 60 degree wedges for some reason and in the end, it’s just a club that needs a little practice to figure out…but then again, don’t all of your clubs need that.

  6. ChipNRun

    Jul 30, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Two things to decide on LWs:
    * Can you hit a 60* reliably? If not, go with a 58*.
    * Whether it’s a 60* or 58*, you need to pull firmly through the shot with the left side. If not, you’ll come up short a lot on your LW.

    Once you resolve these two points, remember: a LW is not an all-occasions club. If you hit a lob into a green with a false front, don’t be surprised if the ball spins back to your feet. In this case, go to a chip and run if you’re going uphill slightly.

    I saw this happen several times from the U.S. women in the 2014 Curtis Cup. The U.S. would lob into the false front and die, or spin back, while the British/Irish women would roll a chip-and-run in close for an easy tap-in. (Fortunately, the US women were dropping iron-shot darts into the green from the fairway, and eventually won out.)

  7. Par-Tee-Animal

    Jul 29, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Honestly, I think most of Ryan’s work is just product of boredom. This article is so lazily written that the only data he provides is a percentage of “sand saves” with no data on what kind of wedge was used during those attempted “saves”.

    Also on a similarly and ironic note, he includes a meme about skulling a sand wedge 170 yards from a bunker. What degree is a sand wedge again? Oh that’s right it’s between 54-57 degrees, so he’s basically invalidated his argument in one meme.

    How often are you going to open the face of a 60* lob wedge in a bunker or around the green? Hardly ever, want to know why? Because it has 60* of loft unlike the 56* everyone opens up and sweeps through the bunker with that has the added repercussion of higher bounce which leads to more skulled shots than a 60* with lower bounce.

    Now are lob wedges for everyone? Certainly not, there are guys like Lee Trevino who only carried a wedge as high as 54* and had a successful career. But for someone who want a little more confidence to land a nice soft shot onto the green over a bunker or even a water hazard they’re a nice tool to have. Why work on building a whole new swing for one shot when you can buy a club that effectively has the same mechanics?

    Ryan, I highly encourage you to rethink your Op-Ed articles as they’re basically non-educated opinions by someone who speed out articles that read like Buzzfeed headlines.

    I saw your latest post about club makers and gourmet chefs being similar, maybe it’s time for you to hang up the carry bag and take up cooking. At least that way everything is already measured out for you so you don’t have to try to use any critical thinking which you seem to lack.

  8. PATRICK CARROLL

    Jul 29, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    When i was a 25 handicap (maybe more that’s just a guess), I used a lob wedge often and ineffectively. Probably rarely at the right time. It probably didn’t help my score like using a 9 iron to bump and run would have. But it was fun.

    I’m officially a 12 handicap now. The big difference is I know the shots I CAN hit and know the shots I SHOULD hit. That combination means i spend most of my time using my 54* with great success. But, when I need to play a high, short, soft shot, I can do it with moderate success. Certainly much better than I could with an open faced 54 or lower.

    In short. Know the FEW shots and scenarios you NEED a LW and be diligent in using the club ONLY for those shots.

  9. Evan

    Jul 27, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Why, when facing a short shot that needs to fly high and land softly, wouldn’t a LW be helpful, regardless of handicap- in fact probably more helpful to a less skilled player?

  10. JackCi

    Jul 27, 2020 at 8:15 am

    This is a dumb article. I use my 60* a lot and also any other club down to a 7 even around the green. The 60* is nothing short of s godsend around the green and one of the easiest clubs to hit. Whoever wrote this is a hack and should retire.

  11. BWeez

    Jul 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    A 60 degree wedge is useless and isn’t worthy of the slot in the bag, you’d be better off with a driving iron. My 56 degree is the most effective club in my bag and I use it in a million different situations. It is also the club I practice with the most. Anyone who puts anything above a 48 degree in their hand and hasn’t got serious reps with it is hoping to get lucky.

  12. Justin

    Jul 21, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    I think this article has some credence. I have a 60 degree wedge and used many different kinds of grinds and bounces in the past. It is in the grinds and bounces that I think can benefit each player the most. Once the player understands what is best utilized for them can the wedge be beneficial. I have though found lately I have gravitated to more my 56 and 52 on standard wedge shots and pitches and only using my 60 in specialty situations. It is quite a low bounce so it comes in handy on tight lies and firm bunkers. It has a decent amount of heal and toe relief. I am a low single digit handicap. Not sure if thats any relevance to the situation but I always used to just use a 60* form anywhere. Have found since I expanded the 56 and 52 it has allowed me greater control over being able to keep the flight down and get the ball running on the green faster.

  13. Bas

    Jul 20, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I’m a 38 handicap and have a 60 degree Cleveland CBX in the bag. It is incredibly easy to hit, more so than my SW and AW (Callaway Rogue). I just put the ball in the middle of my stance, weight 50/50 and swing through the ball nice and easy. Nothing fancy. Love it from the sand as well.

    Although at my level I have never even thought about ‘opening up’ a 60 degree wedge. Why on earth would you do that? Isn’t the point of a 60 degree that you don’t have to open up your 54 degree? i would think that 60 would be enough.

  14. nomad golfer

    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:01 am

    I use a Lovett chipper wedge for getting out of sand traps otherwise it just stays in the bag. My reliable short range club is a sand wedge which I don’t use in sand !.
    Yeah it’s a funny game.

  15. Jonas Henderson

    Jul 19, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Exactly what audience are you addressing here? A lob wedge is an entirely legitimate tool for many serious golfers. I bet among single digit hcp players, most would say it’s indispensable. Among mid-cappers, I bet a good proportion wield it with decent competence, especially, if they use it for standard chips and pitches, and not hero shots.

    I’d wager the 3w has destroyed more rounds than LWs ever have.

    • gwelfgulfer

      Jul 29, 2020 at 11:46 am

      I’d easily take that bet. The LW has far more potential use in a round than a 3wd does for the vast majority. More so if they aren’t hitting a good % of GIR’s and blindly grab the 60* for each and every situation.

  16. Simms

    Jul 19, 2020 at 10:26 am

    If you play public golf I find it a lot easier to find a place to practice 58 degree lob and chip shots then any other shot…almost no one in the public course arena has a 100 yard grass to a real green practice area and for most of us 75% of driving ranges are mats (almost a waste of time for short iron and fairway wood practice). So I keep a 58 in my bag because I have practiced with it till it works.

  17. Tom Duckworth

    Jul 19, 2020 at 10:15 am

    I think Phil made the idea of a lob wedge popular for many golfers and that has probably hurt their games. In many weekend golfers minds their idea of the short game is to hit a high shot that lands close to the hole and stops, no matter what the shot really calls for. I guess a low running chip isn’t as sexy as a high lob but I’ll take closer to the hole any day.

  18. Matt70

    Jul 18, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I only carry 46° and then 54°. Keep it simple. +0.2 hcap

  19. Duane Martin

    Jul 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    I still carry my Ping Eye 2+ SW instead of lob wedge…..57.5 degrees, double bevel sole, 64.5 degrees of lie angle.
    Best “SW” ever made imo…. easy to flop, easy to hit 80 yards and easy to hit all green side bunker shots with.
    But like everyone else has said….. practice goes a long way towards perfection.

  20. Rascal

    Jul 18, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    I agree, don’t see the need to take up the bag spot when I can use the 3i instead.

  21. Mac

    Jul 18, 2020 at 3:43 am

    Technique is king!

    • gwelfgulfer

      Jul 19, 2020 at 2:34 pm

      Pretty well this. Golf is hard, even harder to play very well and the vast majority of players in the world have had little to no actual quality instruction, little to no practice (or practice poorly because of lack of knowledge) or actual drive/ability to get better.

  22. Dicklaus

    Jul 17, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve been a Cat 1 golfer for the best part of 50 years. The whole basis of the short game is to get the ball on the ground as soon as possible – unless you’re forced otherwise.
    I tried a LW once and realised it was an unreliable club – unless I was prepared to put in a lot of practice.
    It was also evident that a better strike, and the same result as a LW, was possible by opening up my 54 SI.
    In other words, the shot I’d learnt as a kid & used for decades.
    Different strokes for different folks!

  23. Dan

    Jul 17, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    I was a scratch when 95% of players didn’t carry a lob wedge, myself included. You practice enough you can hit anything.

  24. Richard Pym

    Jul 17, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    For me it’s all about course management a good player knows most of the time what type of shot to hit around the green. I think that the slightly higher handicappers sometimes try to hit the miracle Mickelson esq flops shots they have seen from TV rather than taking the easier shot for say bogey and walking away with 1 or 2 points rather than a blob.

  25. Bob Jones

    Jul 17, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    My 60-degree wedge is calibrated to certain distances for pitching and for chipping. I have practiced with it around the green and am familiar with what I can do with it and what I can’t. It’s a big stroke-saving club for me.

  26. KP

    Jul 17, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I never thought I would see an endorsement for gimmicks like the Square Strike wedge on GolfWrx, a website that is supposedly geared towards serious golfers. I’m stunned.

  27. Acemandrake

    Jul 17, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    56 is easier to use than 58 or 60. It’s also more versatile.

    For me, there’s just less thought involved with the 56.

  28. David

    Jul 17, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    I could probably hit 75% of my 60 degree shots with my 56, but still would play it more often in a round than I would a 3 wood. For my set I have put a 60 in the bag, lowered the loft on my 5 wood, and dumped the 3 wood to stay at 14 clubs. Newer 60s seem to have better weight distribution and easier to hit than my older versions did but that’s just my opinion. I think it comes down to understanding your capability when picking your target landing area, but its doesn’t seem any harder to hit to me. I understand I’m not Phil.

  29. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Jul 17, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I disagree. I have both a 58 and 62 degree. They are real stroke savers for me.

  30. DougE

    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:38 am

    I too have to disagree, with respect.

    I feel this article might be better published on a site where the majority of players are mid to higher handicappers. Not WRX. The article itself is not totally off base in the opinions presented, though it is quite condescending if you are lumping good players into the equation. You don’t get to be a single digit handicap without having good control of your wedges and a somewhat thorough understanding of the design and dynamics of wedges and swings, particularly short game swings.

    Personally, I could not play to the level I do without a good quality lob wedge. I use anything from a hybrid to a 58* around the greens, but 90% of the time, it is my 58. It is the most trusted short game club in my bag. Sure, I screw up with it, occasionally, just like everyone else does from time to time, but I’ll take the 90-95%, good to excellent shot, success rate I do have with it any day, over not having a LW in my bag at all. Yes, I admit, I practice and play a lot (virtually everyday), so I am very aware of how to handle it properly. But, I would also guess, that the majority of WRX readership would fall into my same category (4.8), or better. Most here are serious players of the game, not just casual golfers.

    A simple qualification in the beginning of the article suggesting that it is aimed more at mid to higher handicap level golfers, and then the article has plenty of merit. JMO.

  31. John B

    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Am 84 now – 30 years with my Ping 60 degree lob. Swing plane & speed very important. Don’t give up, just practice, practice!

  32. Brandon

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I think the negative feedback misses the real point Ryan is trying to make. Perhaps Ryan should change the title to “A lob wedge CAN be the most dangerous club.” It seems like the real point of it is that the club can be dangerous when trying to replicate the shots tour pros make look easy. I like using my lob wedge as much as any of you, but I wouldn’t dream of trying anything more complicated than a simple pitch shot.

  33. Big_Church

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:30 am

    I’m a 12 index and use a 60 all the time around the green, gets me out of trouble(which happens a lot) quite often. Disagree here.

  34. Obee

    Jul 17, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Define your audience first. The overwhelming majority of players below a 10-handicap can wield a LW just fine, and for many players 5 and under, it’s their go-to wedge around the green.

  35. Brian Parsons

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I completely disagree with this. I’m a 7 index and I would be lost without my 60. Gets me out of trouble around the greens all the time. I use it almost exclusively on shorter sand shots its my go to club for a full 80-90 yard shot from the fairway. Love my 60.

    • Brandon

      Jul 17, 2020 at 11:40 am

      I agree with you completely. Sometimes I’ll chunk or blade my 60, but I do it with my 56 or my 52 as well. Definitely not going to buy an infomercial wedge just because I suck. I’d rather be a 7 with real clubs and be able to look at myself in the mirror than a 5 with clown clubs.

  36. SV677

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I agree, lob wedges are a disaster waiting to happen. I pretty much only use one for full shots. Even then I avoid it as much as possible. I also do not open the clubface because the ball goes 45* left (lefty) every time. I think a max of 56* is enough unless one is very skilled. Find the safe spot on the green and hope for a long putt and avoid disaster.

  37. Alexander Thompson

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I disagree with this idea. I think more golfers should utilize a lob wedge. It’s not necessarily about technique of hitting the ball. It’s about knowing how to set up to the shot correctly. Feet position, hand position, and ball position are the keys to hitting a lob wedge. These don’t require much practice since they are set up related. Promoting gimmicky clubs to make the game easier is a set up for failure when the solution is rather simple and allows people to have a better understanding of what the club should be doing at impact with the ball.

  38. Skip

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Dumb article to assume nobody is good enough to use a lob wedge.

  39. brian

    Jul 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I stopped playing with anything higher lofted than a 56 degree. I can open the face and hit flops every bit as easily with a 56 and it has more utility, for me, than a 60.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Podcasts

The 19th Hole Episode 168: Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen discusses Bryson

Published

on

World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen discusses Bryson DeChambeau’s controversial entry at the World Long Drive Championships. Also features Kristine Rose of Kemper Sports and host Michael William’s Ryder Cup breakdown.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW2
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Club Junkie

Club Junkie: New Fujikura Speeder NX and Mizuno ST-G Driver Reviews!

Published

on

By

Fujikura has a new Speeder NX with a new Variable Torque Core that adds low torque for stability in the handle and tip section while leaving the mid-section with higher torque for better energy transfer.

The Speeder NX has a stout, but smooth, feel and offers a more mid launch with mid/low spin. The new Mizuno ST-G driver is ultra adjustable to fit any golfer out there. Mid launch and low spring, the Beta Titanium face has good ballspeed on shots hit way away from the center!

You can also watch on our YouTube channel here.

Your Reaction?
  • 6
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Takeaways from the Ryder Cup

Published

on

Like most of us, I watched quite a bit of the Ryder Cup matches this past weekend and was happy to see the “youth movement” of the U.S. Team rise to the occasion. Congrats to all the players, caddies, coaches, and support teams of our victorious U.S. team!

What I saw were a bunch of matches that were not too dissimilar to those most of us play on a regular basis. The wins were much more often due to great up-and-down scrambling or great putts. Very few holes, it seemed, were won by spectacular shotmaking — knocking the flags down with approach shots. Of course, there were plenty of those – in that many matches between the world’s best 24 golfers, how could there not be?

But by and large, holes and matches were won on and around the greens, just like they are with every round of golf we regular golfers play. Guys that could make the clutch chip or pitch – or the spectacular recovery like we saw from Jordan Spieth – WOW! And then there’s always the huge impact on your score from making more than “your average share” of the 4- 10-foot putts, and maybe even sneaking in a few more from 15 foot and longer.

If any of us are to take a lesson away from the Ryder Cup, it’s this: Spend the bulk of your practice time hitting short chips and pitches — and on the putting green — if you really want to make an impact on your average scores.

One of my favorite short game practice routines can be executed on any practice range, and you can do it with as large a bucket of balls as you can. With your sand wedge, hit a couple of shots toward the front of the range, starting with a target 20 to 30 feet in front of you. Then, hit a few shots to that target ball, varying the height of the shot – one low, one medium, one high – with the goal of flying the ball to that target ball from the firsts shot. Then hit a shot 10-15 feet past that grouping and do it all again, then another group of shots to a spot 10-15 feet closer to you. Repeat this pattern to different groups of balls ranging from 10-15 in front of you, on out to 15-20 yards or more. Work back and forth between these groupings – always bearing down to hit the exact shots you want.

Your future short game success will be proof that this drill develops a feel for hitting all the different greenside scoring shots you need to play to your potential.

As it pertains to actually “practicing” your putting, I think there are two aspects of that process.

The first is to drill on your basic stroke mechanics. I think the best way to do that is to lay down a chalk line on a dead straight putt of 6-10 feet. Hit putt after putt paying close attention to your face angle and alignment at address and to making a simply back-and-through stroke. You simply cannot hit enough of these.

The second practice putting routine I like is to putt the circuit around the putting green, hitting left- and right-breaking putts from distances of 20-40 feet. I recommend hitting two putts each time using the second putt to “go to school” from the break and speed of the first one. This is the only way to gain a “library” of feels and looks that will serve you on the course as you play a round of golf.

Those are my “lesson” takeaways from the Ryder Cup.

But the other thing that was so very evident was the havoc that a stout wind can deal into a round of golf. On Saturday, the wind blew harder than the other days, and the shotmaking showed it. There were many fewer shots covering the flag or hit pin-high — and many more that sailed wide of the target or came up way long or short.

It really doesn’t matter what level you play the game, the wind is always the most difficult “hazard” to negotiate as you propel a 1.68-ounce golf ball around several miles of golf course real estate.

Watch the difference in scoring from week to week on the PGA Tour – comparing those dead still days and the low scores any course will yield, to those days when the wind kicks up and changes the game considerably.

Again, kudos and congratulations to the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team. Great going, guys!

Your Reaction?
  • 34
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL3
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending