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When I was perusing Yahoo! Answers, and sometimes still over on Reddit, I see a surprising amount of people ask “what does the A on my golf club mean”?
Some of you may know, and that’s cool. GLG is for everyone, though, so for those of you reading that may not know… that’s why I’m here!
Basically, the “A” can stand for Attack or Approach wedge. There’s also the Utility wedge, which means the same thing.
Wanna know what that is?
It’s the “Gap” wedge, designed with a loft between 50 and 53 degrees. It looks like this:
This is not to be confused with the “E” wedge that was typical in older Hogan iron sets. That was the “Equalizer” wedge, which was actually the pitching wedge.
Fun fact: did you know those older sets, like the old Hogan models, had a PW (or “equalizer wedge” if you wanna be technical) with lofts of 52 degrees? Yup, the OEMs have decreased the lofts so much on irons that today’s “gap” wedge is yesteryear’s “pitching” wedge.
Anyway, the Gap wedge is designed to fill that 10-12 degree gap between the PW and SW. Get it?
The PW’s are between 44-47 degrees, and the SW is between 54 and 56 degrees, hence the 10-12 degree space. I say “gap”, but maybe “gaping maw” would be more accurate…Never mind. Tough crowd… To make up for the bad joke, why not hang out until the end to get a free download?
With that out of the way, do you need a gap wedge? Well, remember from an earlier post that to have consistency in our attack on the greens, be it full wedge shots, chips, or pitches, a GW may well be the tool to allow for it. If you’re not good at half- and three-quarter swings with the PW, or get bad results from trying to crush a SW, the G/AW should seriously be considered for your bag.
If you’re holding out on getting a gap wedge because the Pro’s don’t use them… think again.
“At last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, only seven players (Aaron Baddeley, Robert Garrigus, Brian Gay, Danny Lee, Davis Love III, George McNeill and Rory Sabbatini) in the 120-player field did not have a wedge between 50 and 54 degrees in their bag”, according to Golf Digest.
That means 94% of all golfers at that tournament had some form of gap wedge. Normally I’m not a fan of doing what the pros do, but if they’re looking for tools to give them more help around the greens, shouldn’t we?
According to Bob Vokey, Titleist’s “wedge guy”, from the same article:
“Why would you keep a 3-iron in the bag that you might use once a round when you can have a wedge you might use five times or more”?
And it’s not just for full swings. As mentioned earlier, there’s something to be said for keeping things simple. If you have four wedges that produce four incrementally different outcomes with the same swing, that’s a good thing.
For instance, if you need a 20-yard pitch, why try to finesse a PW or smash a SW, when you can just use your normal swing with a GW?
Use the same swing, change the club, get different results. Simple.
The Wedge Matrix
Something I like to do, and I feel you should, as well: create what I call a “wedge matrix“:
I’m kinda particular, so I do this with full, half, three-quarter and quarter-swings. You don’t have to do that; if you just want to do full and half, that’s cool. I also do it with pitches.
So, I hit twelve shots, remove the longest and the shortest, then get the average of the remaining ten. That’s the average distance I can expect to hit each style of shot with each wedge in my bag. Sure, I may flub some or overshoot the green on others, but those are rare. I need to know what I can typically expect.
If you do this, you may see some shots overlap. An example would be a half-swing with the PW may carry the same distance as a full LW. That’s OK, because that allows diversity in your short game.
Typically, the half-PW will fly lower than the full LW; if you’re stuck at a distance and you need to keep the ball under an obstacle (like a tree branch), instead of hitting a full LW, give the half-PW a try.
You should also know that the higher LW shot will have less roll-out than the lower PW shot. If you’re stuck without much green to work with, the LW might be the better shot; if you have room to let the ball roll and/or you need to keep it low, consider the PW.
No doubt this can get complicated, but only if you allow it. You don’t have to go full-bore in everything… ease yourself into some of these ideas. Even if you don’t have a complete knowledge of every single distance you can hit a wedge, some knowledge is better than no knowledge.