When buying wedges, one of the visually-obvious disparities between the different clubs is the loft.
A pitching wedge’s loft can measure in with as little as 44 degrees of loft, while a lob wedge typically clocks in at 64.
Quite a discrepancy, when you consider that each are only two clubs’ worth of distance apart.
More subtle, and usually less understood, are the differences in bounce angle between wedges.
Bounce angle, we hear you ask?
Yep, and it’s every bit as important as loft when it comes to controlling your ball with pitches, chips and bunker shots. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out more…
The Science Of Bounce In A Wedge
When it comes to wedges, the ‘bounce’ refers to the area of the club’s sole which hits the turf at impact – or, in layman’s terms, the part which bounces off the surface.
It’s important to distinguish between ‘bounce’ and ‘bounce angle’.
The former is a collaborative term which encompasses all fundamentals of sole design such as the leading edge, camber, rocker, width and bounce angle.
The term ‘bounce angle’ simply refers to the angle between the sole’s leading edge and the point at which it first makes contact with the ground at impact. Bounce angle thus busts a common misperception that the sole of a wedge naturally lies flat on the ground. It doesn’t, and for good reason!
If the sole did lie flat, then, unless you were hitting the ball off a billiard table (and striking it cleanly every time), the club would dig in, and all momentum would either be disrupted, or even stopped completely if the terrain was thick or undulating enough.
Bounce, and specifically bounce angle, thus ensures the wedge can penetrate uneven sand or turf, and allow you to get through the ball – regardless of the difficulty of the lie.
Bounce In Wedges: Low to High
Now that you understand the concept of bounce, you’ll need to decide what level of bounce you need in your wedges.
But how to do it? What do the numbers and degrees actually mean?
Wedges are loosely broken up into three categories: namely, low-bounce wedges, standard-bounce wedges and high-bounce wedges.
Low Bounce Wedges
Low bounce wedges, as the name suggests, will have less bounce angle, and thus less bounce at the point at which it connects with the turf or sand. They also tend to have a narrower sole and a lower leading edge, which allows better grip with the turf. As a result, these are better suited to those who take shallower divots, and whose natural swing arc on the downswing is a sweeping one. It is also more beneficial on dryer, harder courses (like links courses) where you often get a lot of tight lies; and also bunkers which either have heavy sand, or not much sand at all.
High Bounce Wedges
At the other end of the scale, high bounce wedges have a much-higher bounce angle, and thus are more inclined to spring off the surface. They also tend to be associated with a wider flange, and are designed to prevent the club digging into the ground. As such, they are ideally suited to those with steeper downswings, and who are prone to taking deeper divots. They are also beneficial on softer, wetter courses, while, in bunker terms, will be useful in negotiating finer sand (especially bunkers with plenty of it).
Standard Bounce Wedges
Mid (or ‘standard’) bounce wedges fall in between the two, and thus appeal to the broadest spectrum of golfers, as they tend to be a bit more adaptable.
The below Wedge Bounce Chart shows the extent of bounce angle associated with each type of wedge:
Wedge Bounce Chart
|Low Bounce Wedge||Standard Bounce Wedge||High Bounce Wedge|
|0-10 Degrees||10-16 Degrees||16-18 Degrees|
|Sole Width (Less)||Sole Width (Standard)||Sole Width (More)|
|Camber (Less Arch)||Camber (Standard)||Camber (More Arch)|
Choosing The Right Bounce For Your Wedge
Here is a super helpful video guide by the effervescent Mark Crossfield on choosing the right bounce for your wedge.
Now that you have all the information on bounce and bounce angle, you’re all set to go wedge shopping and revolutionize your short game.
Ask yourself: what type of courses, and in what kind of conditions do you normally play? How creative are you, and how much action do you want to put on the ball when it comes to wedge play? And what is your typical swing angle with shorter shots?
If in doubt about the latter, go get your swing angles checked out by a coach or fitter. It’s something you’ll only need to do once in your life. Thereafter, you’ll be all set to buy the perfect wedges for you.