Maybe you’re in the final stages of creating that perfect bag “of sticks.” You’ve found the best fairway woods for your money and the fitter at the pro shop helped you pick a driver that fits your swing. The only thing left is to find the best sand wedge. Finding a sand wedge that extracts your ball from those pesky sand bunkers as soon as possible can be tricky stuff. Overwhelmed by too many choices? Learn how to buy the best sand wedges for you in this quick guide.
4 Best Sand Wedges
The following is a round-up of some of the best golf wedges on the market. You’ll find information describing brands, golfer’s skill level (i.e., best sand wedge for beginners, best sand wedges for high handicappers, etc.) and which clubs are best for arid or soggy course conditions.
Loft: Available in 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees
The Callaway Men’s Mack Daddy 3 Black S-grind is a wedge that is ideal for all skill levels. It has milled line grooves on its face that provide for optimal spin on the ball as you increase loft size. These groove lines can also effectively navigate the soggier areas on the course.
Loft: Available in 52, 54, 58 and 60 degrees
The Cleveland wedge also helps deliver excellent spin on the ball. The Cleveland’s shaft material is made out of steel, which makes it a heavier club to swing. Experienced or stronger golfers may be better suited for this club who play on firm, dryer turf conditions.
Loft: Available in 47, 50, 52, 54, 56 and 60 degrees
The chrome finish on the Ping Glide Wedge repels water which can be helpful when chipping in wet grass. This club is also helpful to golfers who don’t dig or have deep swings when in the rough.
Loft: 50, 52, 56, 60 and 64 degrees
This wedge has a wider clubface to help players improve their accuracy and land their shots. Wilson Wedge clubs are often included in a complete clubs set and are ideal for beginners as a way to minimize costs. Club sets for the novice tend to be priced less to pique beginner’s interest and learn the game.
Anatomy of a Sand Wedge
The sand wedge clubface is designed like no other. Other clubfaces are designed to be parallel to the ground to propel the ball the farthest distance. The sand wedge face is cut at an angle to specifically provide a perpendicular lift up off the ground and prevent digging into mud, thick grass or sand.
Wedge design features include the “loft” and the “bounce.” Read further to learn about these features:
- Loft. Also sometimes called “the loft angles,” this refers to what degree the face of the club is angled. Most sand wedges will have between a 54-56 degree loft. A higher degree of loft on a wedge will produce higher ball flight and less distance traveled.
- Bounce. Bounce refers to the underpart of the wedge clubface that’s in contact with the ground. The bounce angles are also measured in degrees. The higher the bounce angle degree, the further the bottom of the clubface is from touching the ground.
Lob/Pitching/Gap/Sand: Which Wedge is Which?
If you walked into a pro-shop, and casually asked an employee “wedge club section, please?” you would soon be asked which one. The sand wedge has many distant cousins that mirror the role of chipping the ball out of bunkers and rough grassy patches that surround the greens. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types:
The lob wedge has the highest loft measurement (60 to 64 degrees) and allows golfers to hit the ball with more height and spin. The lob wedge is often used to clear hazards such as water or sand. The higher loft also allows the golfer to clear taller brush that might be surrounding the greens.
The pitching wedge has a smaller loft angle (45-50 degrees) than the sand wedge. It’s used to loft the ball into the air when you need a lot of elevation rather than a long distance shot. A pitching wedge is best used for shots between fifteen to sixty yards away.
The gap wedge is a wedge to “fill in the gap” between the capabilities of the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. It carries a loft between 50 and 53 degrees and is the perfect club to hit the ball between 90 and 110 yards. The gap wedge is an effective club to use when a full swing onto the green isn’t needed.
The key characteristic that separates the sand wedge from its long lost cousins is the difference in the degree of loft. Some experts believe that golfers should always carry a pitching and gap wedge along with the sand wedge. Doing so will provide more options for covering the varying distance capabilities each club has and yield more shots that land closer to the hole.
Other Considerations to Keep in Mind
Before making a decision, there are some other things you should keep in mind. Let’s take a look at a few.
Golfer’s Skill Level
The best sand wedge for beginners is going to be a different creature than the best club for a veteran. Beginners may have more difficulty with heavier clubs or lack the technique they need to generate a spin on the ball. The degree of loft and bounce can provide more precision and help a beginner perfect these skills.
Golfers who dig a lot of sand or dirt out of their chips may enjoy a sand wedge that has a higher bounce angle that could minimize divots left in the course. Conversely, golfers who can skim the surface with as little drag as possible may benefit from a wedge with a lower bounce angle.
Clubface Material and Finishes
The metal and finish used on your sand wedge can affect your performance dramatically. Golfers should note the metals and finishes used to understand how they affect the weight of the club, generate spin on the ball or prevent rusting over time.
Golf Course Conditions
Courses that are located in rainy or wet climates have muddier and soggier hazards that golfers need to adjust for. Courses located in dry or arid locations will have fluffier, lighter sand and traps that won’t need such high lofts and bounces.
It’s no doubt that golf can be a pricey sport, especially when it comes to buying equipment. Find a club that doesn’t break your budget but compliments your skill level and helps navigate the physical conditions of the golf courses you will most likely be playing.