Our most-read equipment story of 2021: Drop this club if you’re a high-handicapper

A myriad of club options can make the buying process daunting, especially if you're unfamiliar with the different models and don't know where to start when it comes to building your ideal setup.

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In a year where new golfers picked up the sport in record numbers, GOLF.com’s equipment staff wrote extensively about bag optimization and offered gear tips for those who were likely purchasing clubs for the first time. A myriad of club options can make the buying process daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the different models and don’t know where to start when it comes to building your ideal setup.

Of the stories we wrote this year, one resonated with high-handicap golfers more than any other — and it’s connected to a club they would do well to avoid as they learn the game. That would be the lob wedge.

During an April edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag (read the full version here), a reader pondered if he was using the best 11-club setup for his game. While I didn’t have any problem with him proceeding with less than 14 clubs, the overall set makeup revealed a few holes. Replacing the 5-iron with a high-lofted fairway wood or hybrid is an easy fix.

So, too, is dropping the lob wedge for a gap or sand wedge that’ll see far more use during a round. I get that removing a 58- or 60-degree wedge reduces your chances to hit a flop shot, but how often are you really using that shot? And do you even know how to properly execute it?

aaron baddeley putts
This was GOLF.com’s most-read putting tip of 2021
By: Zephyr Melton

Maybe there’s a beginner golfer out there who was born with a deft touch and can get it up-and-down from a short-sided position with Mickelson-esque consistency, but I’m willing to bet you’d be better off learning to perfect shots that stay along the ground before adding a flop to the short game arsenal.

If the suggestion from a gear scribe isn’t enough to sway your decision to swap out the lob wedge for something with less loft, just know Bob Vokey and Roger Cleveland — two wedge legends — are firmly in my camp as well.

Call me the “Gear Grinch” if you must, but I’ll stand firm on this one. As your game improves, particularly around the green, feel free to test a lob wedge and integrate it into your setup. For the moment, however, work on perfecting those shots with a gap or sand wedge.

I promise your scores will go in the right direction with this simple loft adjustment.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.