In the complex and varied world of golf clubs, understanding the specific role of each club can be a bit challenging for beginners. Among the more versatile clubs in a golfer’s bag is the pitching wedge (PW). A frequent question that arises is: What degree is a pitching wedge?
What Is A Pitching Wedge? What Is The Loft?
Traditionally, the loft of a pitching wedge has been set around 42 to 48 degrees. The exact loft can depend on the manufacturer, the specific design of the club set, and even the desires of the golfer.
A pitching wedge, true to its name, was primarily designed for ‘pitch’ shots. However, thanks to its loft, a pitching wedge can produce shots that have a steep angle of descent, allowing the ball to land softly on the green with minimal roll.
However, it’s not just limited to pitch shots. Golfers often use the PW for full swings from the fairway, bump-and-run shots, and even some chip shots around the green.
Different Types of Wedges
Pitching Wedge (PW)
- Loft: Traditionally between 42 – 48 degrees.
- Purpose: The pitching wedge is the most commonly used wedge. And it’s suitable for shots that need to cover longer distances than other wedges but with a higher trajectory than irons.
- *Full swing: The club is beneficial for approach shots ranging from 90 to 135 yards for most golfers.
The pitching wedge (PW) is typically included as the first wedge in most iron sets. Golfers typically use a pitching wedge (PW) that matches their set of clubs, but more advanced players may choose a different PW that matches their wedges for better control at close range.
Gap Wedge (GW) or Approach Wedge (AW) or Utility Wedge (UW)
- Loft: Typically between 50 – 54 degrees.
- Purpose: As the name suggests, the gap wedge bridges the “gap” between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. It’s ideal for shots that are too long for a sand wedge but too short for a pitching wedge.
- *Full swing: Used for shots from 65 to 115 yards for many players.
Gap wedge, aka Approach wedge or Utility wedge or Attacking wedge, has more loft than a pitching wedge (around 50 – 54 degrees) and a slightly shorter shaft for better control. A GW is a versatile club that can be used for various shots, such as chip shots, long bunker shots, approach shots, and more.
Sand Wedge (SW)
- Loft: Traditionally between 54 – 58 degrees.
- Purpose: Initially this club was designed to get the ball out of bunkers. But now, the sand wedge is used for not only sand shots, but a variety of around the green shots. It provides a mix of loft and bounce, making it suitable for chips, pitches, and bunker shots.
- *Full swing: Used for shots from 50 to 100 yards for many players
The sand wedge (SW) is a versatile golf club, useful for various shots beyond just hitting from bunkers. It works well for full shots, chip shots, bunker shots, and more. The choice between a gap wedge (GW) and a sand wedge (SW) will depend on individual golfer preferences.
Lob Wedge (LW)
- Loft: Typically between 58 – 64 degrees, with some even reaching 68 degrees.
- Purpose: The lob wedge provides maximum loft. Therefore, it’s designed for shots that need to go very high and land softly, with minimal roll. It’s perfect for shots over hazards, tight pin placements, or when you need to execute a flop shot.
- *Full swing: Used for shots from 30 to 90 yards for many players
The lob wedge is a must-have club for advanced golfers. With its high loft, it can generate ample spin allowing players to stop the ball faster while getting closer to the pin. Great for tricky short-sided shots or over-the-bunker shots.
Note: *The range in yardage is based on factors such as the loft, the quality of strike, and your swing speed. It’s crucial to have a good grasp of how far your own shots go. For each wedge you need to know the yardage for a full swing, 3/4 swing, and half swing.
The Basics: Loft Degrees in Golf Clubs
It’s essential to understand the concept of ‘loft’. Because the loft of a golf club refers to the angle of the clubface relative to a vertical plane. And this angle determines the trajectory and distance the ball travels when struck. Therefore, a club with a higher loft degree will launch the ball at a steeper angle. Thus, often resulting in shorter distances but more control. Conversely, clubs with lower loft degrees tend to drive the ball further but with a lower trajectory.