Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which we field your hard-hitting gear questions.
How do I choose the right gap wedge?
One of the fastest ways to tidy up your short game is to choose the proper set of wedges. At first glance it seems easy: grab either two or three wedges that look good to you from your local golf shop and be on your way.
Could it really be that simple?
Of course not. This is golf equipment we’re talking about here, and there are near endless options and opportunities to round out a wedge set. The key is in how you get started in selecting your wedges in the first place.
To choose the right wedge setup, the logical first step is to look at the pitching wedge in your set and build from there. Today’s modern-day pitching wedges range anywhere from 43 to 46 degrees in loft, but it hasn’t always been that way.
For decades, pitching wedges had more lofts, ranging around 48 degrees or more. This means it used to be easier to flow your iron set into a standard pair of wedges that include either a 54- or 56-degree sand wedge and a 58- or 60-degree lob wedge.
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Cleveland Smart Sole 4
Now that lofts are stronger, gap wedges have become staples in the bags of many players who need to fill the wide gap in loft between modern-day pitching wedges and standard 56-degree sand wedges. A typical gap wedge has anywhere between 46 to 52 degrees of loft, meaning you want to choose a gap wedge that enables you to space your lofts out as evenly as possible.
For example, you may have a 44-degree wedge to start with. (And if you don’t know the loft of your pitching wedge a clubfitter can tell you, or most brands and models have lofts listed somewhere online.) In an ideal situation, you’d probably pick a 48- or 50-degree gap wedge, then either a 54- or 56-degree sand wedge, followed by a 58- or 60-degree lob wedge. In case you’re wondering, top wedge brands carry multiple lofts in every model, making it easy to find a gap wedge that will match the rest of your wedge set.
Once you dial in the loft, here’s where you need to make an assessment on how you plan to use it. Most golfers who carry gap wedges carry them to play full-swing shots and not for finesse shots around the green. And if the thought of swinging full-strength with a wedge sounds intimidating, a game-improvement option like Cleveland’s Smart Sole 4 wedge is a solid option. The Smart Sole comes in a 50-degree gap model with an extra-wide three-tiered sole for maximum forgiveness and minimal digging.
Remember, choosing the right gap wedge starts with the pitching wedge, not via choosing a lob or sand wedge first. And one more thing, if you prefer a gap wedge that looks and feels less like a wedge and more like the irons in your set, check with your iron manufacturer and see if the company makes a gap wedge version. Many of them do and they’re usually sold separately.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.