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Golf 101: If you could only pick one wedge loft to use, what would it be?

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What’s the perfect loft for a sand wedge? 

To take it a step further, what if you had to pick one tool to use from short distance? Do you have the chops to hit soft pitching wedges? Hard sand wedges? Do you know how to play with an open face? Closed? Use the bounce? Make something work?

I remember when I first started playing golf and my first full bag of clubs. I remember the set vividly, it was a set of Red Birds (now Avian) driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 3-PW, a sand wedge, and a Ping Anser 2 putter. If you do the math, that’s the 13 clubs (for the club counters out there) and it was by design. Growing up at Rainier G&CC, I was taught the game by now Director of Golf at Glendale CC Mike Montgomery.

“Where’s the 60?” I asked. “You don’t need it,” said Mike. “Everything you need to do around the greens can be done with your 9-iron and that 56 degree. Once you master those, we can look at a 60.” Not what you want to hear as a 16-year-old, but what did I know?

If you talk to any of the great wedge makers (Vokey, Taylor, Dill, etc), they will tell you the same thing, and it’s not based on some conservative theory—they have seen the best hands in the world play this way. Seve and Lee to name a few.

So I went down The Gear Dive guest list and asked this question…

If you had to pick one wedge to use after the pitching wedge, what would it be and why?

The answers are REALLY interesting.

Rocco Mediate: (50) – “With my bounce numbers then I can make it up to at least 75 degrees dynamic loft on-call, so all bases are covered.”

Ryan Palmer: (50) – “I could hit numerous shots and have shots from multiple distances.”

Aaron Dill: (56-14F) – “I think it’s plenty of loft for anyone but not too much where you’re disconnected from the PW. The F style of sole tends to be forgiving yet subtly versatile in most situations.”  

Fred Couples: (58) – “If I had to hit it 100 I could, and I know how to hit a soft PW. Also around the greens, I’d have everything I need.”

Steve Elkington: (52) – “I can always add loft but it’s hard to go the other way. 52 gives me plenty of options to get it done.” 

Jimmy Walker: (54) – “I can make it work around the greens and there are lots of 115 shots in golf.”

Chris Trott: (56 High Toe) – “Most golfers need the versatility of a 56, and if they need to turn it down and hit it out of the fairway it’s there. The High Toe gives them a little more versatility on opened face shots.”

So what did we learn here? More loft isn’t necessarily the end all be all. I don’t see any 60-degree wedges mentioned here.

So, the nugget is to get creative with all your wedges. Get to know what each one can do and what they offer. You may find that the more you mess around with them the more shots in your arsenal you will have. If you do it right, you won’t just go for the 60 every time. Most players at the highest level could not only turn one wedge into four or five but could also turn three into 12-15…

And back to the beginner (or me at 16): Master one first, and then add others. Do not make your life more complicated than it needs to be!

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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

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Dr Tee

    Dec 22, 2020 at 2:27 am

    58 !!

  2. Murv

    Dec 20, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    I also would pick 54 w/10-11 bounce.
    What i really chuckled at was the first set for the guy. 64 years ago at age 13 I got a 3-5-7-9 iron a driver and 3 wood and a putter. Played and became pretty good with that set.

  3. Jay

    Dec 19, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Vokey 56-S. From 90y in, it can do anything and the Stricker grind is money if you are a dead hands wedge player.

  4. Pi

    Dec 19, 2020 at 3:27 am

    56o for me. I am not good opening the club face so need the loft for the ‘too close tothe lip’ bunker shots and ones where there is little green to work with. I suppose a 60o would work as well. Currently after the pw I only have the 56o and it works well

  5. Alex

    Dec 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    I’m trying to go from a 58 as my go to, to a 54. It’s been rough but will stick to it. I picked the 58 since I read the book by Stan Utley and he recommends the 58. Been using the PM19 at 54 and 58 for the past year. Recently changed to the Mizuno ES21, 54 and 59. The change in look is throwing me off for now.

  6. Karsten's Ghost

    Dec 14, 2020 at 5:55 am

    Mark me down for a 54º.

  7. joeg_voll_ii.

    Dec 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Great Question! Very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the Pro choices & their logic behind their selections. I’d have to go with Steve Elkingtons logic, except I’d pick my 50°, for the same reasons he picked his 52°. I’ve been playing Cleveland CG15 wedges for 4 years now. I doubt I’ll ever switch. Their feel & performance is perfect to me. Anytime I find ’em in near mint or like new condition, I buy them. I would pick the 50°(10°b) with 2 white dots that I’ve no clue what it means. I practice so much with it, that I can hit any shot required and it’s my smooth 100 yard club. If I had to give 1 piece of advice to a new player, I’d tell them to pick a wedge that feels good to you, then just master the club. Practice with it until it feels like an extension of your body and you can pull off any shot, effortlessly, without even thinking. Anyway, Excellent Question. Hopefully some will give their picks and logic in the comments.

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