Among the various clubs a golfer might have in their bag, wedges play a vital role in ensuring short-game success. One of the often-overlooked yet extremely useful wedges is the gap wedge. And for some golfers, one of the most beloved clubs in the bag. Because, as the name (aka attack wedge) suggests, it’s an awesome way to go after the pin when a golfer has it in their hand. However, some may struggle with finding good distance control and a consistent strike.
Discover the gap wedge – its origin, use, and significance in a golfer’s arsenal. Plus, explore the top 5 best reviewed gap wedges.
Origins of the Gap Wedge
The gap wedge, also sometimes known as an “approach wedge,” “utility wedge,” or “attack wedge,” was introduced as a solution to a problem. As club technology improved over the years, there emerged a noticeable ‘gap’ in distance between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. This meant that golfers often found themselves in a position where neither wedge would suffice for a particular shot. The gap wedge was, therefore, designed to fill this distance gap.
Gap Wedge Overview
What Is The Loft Of The Gap Wedge?
Typically, a gap wedge will have a loft that ranges between 50 and 54 degrees, placing it right between the traditional pitching wedge (around 45-48 degrees) and the sand wedge (typically 54-58 degrees). The exact specifications might vary based on the manufacturer and the player’s preference.
When to Use the Gap Wedge?
- Intermediate Distances: As its name suggests, it’s perfect for those intermediate distances where a pitching wedge might send the ball too far, and a sand wedge might fall short.
- Green Approach Shots: When approaching the green in golf, you may need a high, soft shot with a controlled landing and minimal roll/bounce. Alternatively, you might require lots of backspin to bring the ball back to the hole.
- Chipping Around the Green: The gap wedge can be used for chipping around the green, especially when you require a bit more airtime than roll. It can loft the ball over a small obstacle (like a bunker or rough patch) while ensuring the ball doesn’t run too far past the pin.
- Tight Lies: On firmer ground or when the ball is lying on tight grass, the gap wedge, with its typically narrower sole than a sand wedge, can provide cleaner contact without too much interference from the ground.
- Attacking Pins: When the pin is tucked behind a bunker or water hazard, and you need to carry the ball a specific distance with precision, the gap wedge comes into its element.
Choosing the Right Gap Wedge
- Loft: Ensure that the loft of the gap wedge you’re considering effectively bridges the gap between your pitching and sand wedges.
- Bounce: This refers to the angle between the leading edge and the lowest point of the club’s sole. Depending on your swing and the course conditions you frequently encounter, you might opt for a low, medium, or high bounce gap wedge.
- Feel: As with any club, it should feel comfortable and instill confidence. Test various brands and designs to find the one that suits your game best.
5 Best Gap Wedges
1) Callaway JAWS MD5 (Most Popular)
- Superior Spin: The Callaway JAWS MD5 is renowned for its exceptional spin control, courtesy of the JAWS groove design and the proprietary groove-in-groove technology.
- Versatility: It offers a wide range of loft and bounce options, making it suitable for diverse course conditions and play styles.
- Great Reviews: Many reviews comment on control, feel, and design of the club making all shots easy to hit.
- Many Pros Use: Jon Rahm, Sam Burns, Adam Hadwin
- More Affordable Price than other premium gap wedges.
- A few reviews have stated the durability of the club may be an issue.
- Limited Forgiveness: While it offers excellent control and spin, it might not be as forgiving for beginners or high-handicap players.
2) Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (PROS Favorite)
- Exceptional Feel: The Titleist Vokey Design SM9 is known for its soft feel and feedback, making it a favorite among players who prioritize touch and control.
- Versatility: With six available sole grinds and multiple loft options, the SM9 allows golfers to fine-tune their shots with precision, making it suitable for various conditions and scenarios.
- Tour-Proven Performance: Most popular wedge among the top 100 PGA Tour pros.
- Great Reviews: Reviewers raved about the exceptional quality, feel, design, and performance of this club.
- Expensive: A premium club at a premium price that may not fit into every golfer’s budget.
3) TaylorMade Milled Grind 4 (Best Reviewed)
- Precision Milling: The TaylorMade Milled Grind 4 is milled to exact specifications, ensuring consistency and precision in every shot.
- Great Reviews: Reviewers praised the exceptional spin, weight, and feel of this club. They also loved its stylish design and impressive performance.
- Versatile Grind Options: With five distinct grind options and many loft and bounce options, this wedge can cater to a wide range of playing styles.
- Classic Look: The classic design of the Milled Grind 4 is visually appealing to many golfers, offering a traditional look and feel.
- Pros Use: Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa has these wedges in their bags.
- Expensive: Another expensive club on this list.
- Durability Concerns: Some users have expressed possible durability issues with the club’s face, which may wear down more quickly than expected.
4) Cleveland RTX 6 Zipcore (My Favorite)
- Patented Groove Technology: The Cleveland RTX 6 Zipcore features a unique grooved pattern that promotes more spin and control, especially on partial shots and chips.
- Good Reviews: Reviewers are very happy with the performance and feel of the club.
- Variety of Grinds: The RTX 6 Zipcore offers four sole grind options, each catering to different playing styles and course conditions.
- Pros Use: One of the Top 3 more used wedges out there.
- Brand and Value: When I think of gap wedges I think of a Cleveland golf club. And at ~$120 this is a good value gap wedge.
- Reviewers have mentioned the club’s lack of forgiveness and durability as potential issues.
5) Top Flite Gamer Wedge (Most Affordable)
- Affordable: An excellent budget-friendly option for golfers who want a reliable gap wedge without breaking the bank.
- Forgiving: This club’s design and weight distribution make it very forgiving, helping players achieve more consistent shots.
- Good Reviews: Golfers commented about the excellent value, performance, lightweight design, and feel of this club.
- Solid Construction: Despite its affordable price point, this wedge is well-made and durable, offering excellent value for money.
- Lack of Brand Recognition: Top Flite may not have the same reputation as other top golf brands, which could deter some players from trying out this wedge.
- Less Spin Control: While it offers decent spin control, it does not match the same level of spin as more expensive wedges.
What is Loft?
- Definition: Loft refers to the angle between the clubface and an imaginary vertical line. It is an essential factor determining how high and far the ball will travel when struck.
- Importance: The greater the loft, the higher the ball’s trajectory. For instance, drivers have low lofts (typically 8-15 degrees) because they’re designed for distance and produce relatively low-flying shots. Conversely, wedges have high lofts (typically from 45 to 64 degrees) as they are meant for shorter, higher shots.
Why Wedge Bounce Is Important?
- Definition: Bounce refers to the angle between the leading edge of the clubface and the lowest point of the club’s sole (the part of the club that interacts with the ground). It essentially dictates how much the leading edge is elevated from the ground. When the club is addressed to the ball.
- Importance: The bounce is vital in preventing the club from digging too deeply into the ground. A higher bounce is ideal for softer conditions or fluffy sand, as it prevents the club from digging too much. In contrast, a lower bounce is suitable for firmer conditions. Ensuring the club doesn’t skip or bounce off the ground upon contact.
What is Wedge Grind/Sole?
- Definition: Grind refers to the modification of the wedge’s sole, with material being ground off to achieve a particular shape or characteristic. Different grinds allow the wedge to interact with the turf in varied ways.
- Importance: The type of grind on a wedge can influence the versatility of the club. For instance:
- Standard Grind: Ideal for a wide variety of conditions and swing types. It’s usually middle-of-the-road in terms of bounce and sole width.
- Heel/Toe Grind: Material is removed from the heel and toe, allowing for increased versatility, especially on open-faced shots.
- Wide Sole Grind: Offers added bounce and is great for softer conditions or players with a steeper attack angle.
- Narrow Sole Grind: Suited for firmer conditions or players with a shallower attack angle.