Wedges are one of the most important clubs in your bag. But often the most neglected when it comes to buying new clubs.
Never forget, your equipment can play a major role in helping you shoot your best scores. While most golfers focus on new drivers that can help increase distance, you can’t forget about wedges either.
Most iron sets come with a pitching wedge but it’s up to you to get a sand wedge, gap wedge, and/or lob wedge to complete your set. This can get a little confusing with all the different types of wedges, lofts, bounce, and more.
This article will help you understand the right wedge setup so you can have confidence in your short game. Keep reading to learn how to find the right sand wedge and other equipment for your golf game.
What Degree is a Sand Wedge?
Typically, the most common loft for a sand wedge is 56 degrees.
But there isn’t a set sand wedge loft as most sand wedges are between 54-56 degrees. Some brands and manufacturers might be slightly more or slightly less.
If I had to pick one loft I would choose 56 as it’s been the most common SW loft over the years. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for your game though.
Ironically, I just replaced my 56 degree sand wedge with a 54 degree before researching and writing this article. The reason was that I had a big distance gap between my GW and SW, causing a lot of awkward shots on the golf course.
The reason for these gaps was that my gap wedge was the same type of club as my set – a Callaway Apex TCB. While my sand wedge was a Titleist Vokey, which has a more compact head and a heavier shaft.
Even though there was a four degree loft gap between my wedges, the Callaway club still went much further than a Vokey of the same loft.
Because the club is bigger and has a slight cavity back. So I replaced my 56 with a 54 and now have a much better distance control with wedges. The clubhead itself changed slightly but not much and the bounce remained the same.
Now, I have more confidence than ever from previously tricky distance. The point is, you need to find the right loft that works for the rest of your clubs, not just by any 56 degree wedge.
Here’s how to find the right setup for your bag…
54 vs. 56 Degree Sand Wedge
So, should you play a 54 or 56 degree sand wedge?
The answer depends on the rest of your golf clubs. The key is to make sure that your wedges are spaced equally so you don’t have major yardage gaps.
For example, most players don’t know their PW loft and just buy a 56 and 60 degree wedge. But if your pitching wedge has 45 degrees of loft, that leaves 11 degrees between it and your SW. Which can correlate to 10-25 yards depending on how far you hit the golf ball.
The right way to space your wedges is to ask two questions:
- What is my pitching wedge loft?
- How many wedges do I want to carry?
The first step is identifying your pitching wedge loft as they can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer. Some pitching wedges might be 43 degrees, while others are 48 degrees! If you don’t know your pitching wedge loft, it’s nearly impossible to gap your wedges correctly.
Some club manufacturers have the loft on the clubhead itself. While others, you might need to Google the club specs to find the specific loft. Start here before buying any other clubs.
All the Wedges Explained
Once you know the loft, then you need to figure out how many wedges you want to carry. Higher handicap players tend to carry three wedges so they can have an extra hybrid or fairway wood to help with longer shots. While lower handicap golfers tend to carry a fourth wedge as they have more wedges into greens.
If you have three wedges, you will likely have a PW, SW, and LW, If you carry a fourth wedge, you will add in a gap wedge.
Three Clubs Setup
Here is a typical three wedge setup:
- 46 degree pitching wedge
- 54 degree sand wedge
- 60 degree lob wedge
four clubs Setup
If you carry four wedges, you might be more likely to have a 56 degree wedge. A common setup for four wedges might look like:
- 46 degree pitching wedge
- 52 degree gap wedge
- 56 degree sand wedge
- 60 degree lob wedge
Or, 48 degree PW, 50 degree gap wedge, 54 degree sand wedge, and 58 degree LW.
Having a mix of wedges with different loft and bounce can help golfers hit all types of shots…. fom normal shots, to sand traps, approach shots, and around the green. Remember, equipment can make the game easier!
Golf Wedges Lie Angle
Now that you understand the importance of choosing the right loft, I want to point out another important part of playing the right wedges – lie angle.
I’ve been fitted multiple times in my golf career and with my irons I’m usually one degree flat or standard lie. But the fitters always suggest going 1-2 degrees flatter with my wedges compared to my iron set.
To explain, I found a great interview on Golf.com from James Sieckmann, who is the director of instruction from Shadow Ridge Country Club. In the interview, he said, “Wedges are typically too upright and fit for full swing. And you’re not using it for full swing very often — you’re using it from 10 yards, 20 yards or in the bunker. The fit, specifically with a lob wedge, should be for a 20-yard shot, not an 80- and 90-yard shot.”
Later saying, “An elite player might be 1-degree upright in his irons but get gradually flatter when transitioning to the wedges, going to potentially a standard lie angle in the sand wedge and maybe even 1-degree flat in the lob wedge.”
While loft and equal spacing is important, make sure your lie angles are slightly flatter to help you hit it closer with wedges.
FAQs About Golf Wedges
Do you have more questions about sand wedges and making sure your equipment is right for you? Read the most common questions and answers below.
Can a sand wedge be 60 degrees?
No, a sand wedge is between 54-57 degrees (give or take .5 degrees). 60 degrees is the most common LW loft.
Should I carry a lob wedge and sand wedge?
I think it’s beneficial for most golfers as it’s the most lofted club with 58-64 degrees of loft.
But for beginners I would skip the LW for now. While it’s the highest degree wedge, a beginner might not hit the ball consistently well due to the loft/bounce combination.
But a skilled to average golfer will use it to hit shots from all around the green.
What is a 52 degree wedge equivalent to?
A 52 degree wedge is known as a gap wedge. Which is also known as an approach wedge or AW.
This is the club between your pitching wedge and sand wedge. It’s common when you have four wedges in your bag and remove a long club (like a hybrid, long iron, or fairway wood).
Gap wedges are great for pitch shots, long bunker shots, tight lies, and overall, very versatile clubs.
What degree wedge is best for sand?
In general, more loft is better to help you get the ball out of the sand. While loft is important, the biggest thing is to make sure to add loft by opening the clubface.
One of the biggest amateur golf mistakes is trying to play bunker shots with a square clubface. This usually stems from fear of the club being so open, but it’s needed to get out of the sand consistently.
Remember, you hit the sand, not the ball to get out of the bunker.
With a square face, you will have to hit much closer to the golf ball and likely will hit some thin. But with an open clubface, it’s easier to swing more aggressively and get that nice “thud” from hitting the sand.
Plus, more loft means more bounce as the leading edge is exposed. Bounce will help the wedge glide through the sand and get the ball up quickly. For longer bunker shots, you should experiment with an SW or GW.
What is a 58 degree wedge called?
A 58-degree wedge is referred to as a lob wedge.
While most golfers think of L-wedges as 60 or more degrees, 58 is usually the cut-off. While it’s closer to a sand wedge than a lot of lob wedges, it will still go higher and not travel as far.
If you have a 54 degree sand wedge, then it makes more sense to have 58 or possibly 60 degree lob wedge. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to space your wedges out equally so that you don’t have big distance gaps in your game.
This will make it easier to score well more consistently and not have to alter your swing length during the round. Remember, the less you have to manipulate or change on any given swing, the better!
Should I buy a wedge set?
Most wedges are sold individually but there are some wedge sets (like Kirkland) available. Creating your own set is usually the way to go as you can have the best versatility, ideal progression between wedges, and different wedge bounce.
For example, one club could have higher bounce, another with less bounce, and one with mid-bounce. This allows you to have more control, decide on the highest loft, and find the right club setup to match your PW.
Can you adjust the loft of golf clubs?
Yes, you can adjust the loft of most of your golf clubs. The only clubs you can’t adjust the loft of are ones that have fixed hosels.
But most drivers and some fairways woods offer adjustable hosels. These let you insert a tool into the club, remove the screw, and adjust the hosel’s loft and lie settings. This is great because you can make it easier to hit it straight, reduce a slice, or even hit a draw.
To adjust the loft and lies of your irons and wedges though is more work. This is something that most golfers will need to take to a certified club fitter to adjust.
During this process, they will clamp the golf club to a vice grip and then use a special tool to manually adjust the loft.
Just remember, when adjusting the wedge loft, you are also adjusting the bounce of the golf club too. If you have a 54.12 (54 degrees of loft, 12 degrees of bounce) but adjust to a 56 degree wedge, it will move it to 14 degrees of bounce.
Bounce is an important factor with wedges but too much or too little can cause issues. Always confirm with your clubfitter before making any adjustments. The most you can adjust is about two degrees without damaging the hosel.
How do you hit a sand wedge 100 yards?
The average club golfer hits a sand wedge a little less than 100 yards (depending on loft, swing speed, weather, and other factors). But I wouldn’t worry about this as wedge distance isn’t that important.
If you watch most guys on the PGA Tour, chances are you will notice they hit a lot of “knockdown” wedges instead of full shots. When they hit full wedges, they tend to go too high and spin too much.
They opt to hit controlled, knockdown shots instead. These type of shots don’t go as high, are easier to hit, and have consistent spin rates.
I would challenge you to do the same. The next time you’re between clubs, take the one with less loft. (Make sure to read our full article on hitting the 50 to 75 yard wedge shot.)
Even if you don’t hit it 100% perfect, you will still get to the green. Plus, swinging hard with a wedge makes it easy to chunk or skull it over the green.
Your sand wedge is important but it starts by figuring out your PW loft first. Then, work backward to make sure you have the right loft for each wedge based on if you want three or four in the bag.
While pitching and sand wedges are the most common, adding a GW and/or LW can help the average club golfer. Remember, there is no one size fits all here. It’s about finding the right setup that works for your handicap level and typical distances into the greens.
Finally, don’t neglect your lie angle as well. If you play wedges that are too upright (which most of them are), you’re going to make things much more difficult. Getting them adjusted for flatter lie angles will help you make better contact, which should lead to lower scores.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different brands, lofts, lies, and bounce to find the right wedges for you.