Fully Equipped mailbag: Is there a common wedge setup in pro golf?
Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions.
Where do most pros land with their wedges? Is pitching wedge, 52, 56, 60 the most common setup? — Logan Stokes
With the introduction of the wedge portion of GOLF’s 2020 ClubTest, this feels like a good week to tackle a question I get asked frequently. When it comes to common wedge setups on the PGA Tour, there are far more golfers playing with four wedges than three.
Looking strictly at the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, 80 percent are using a pitching wedge, 50/52-, 56-, 60-degree loft combination. That’s a small sample size, but it gives you an idea of what the Tour’s elite typically carry on a week-to-week basis.
If you’re wondering why four wedges are more common than three, just look at how far guys like Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are hitting it these days. Length isn’t an issue. What’s far more important is filling every conceivable yardage gap inside 130-140 yards, which you can do far more easily with an extra (fourth) wedge in the bag.
All that being said, it’s important to point out that wedge combinations change throughout the Tour season. For example, Rory’s most recent setup for 2020 consisted of TaylorMade’s P730 pitching wedge and three Milled Grind 2 wedges (52, 56 and 60 degrees). But if you go back to last season, he played three wedges with six-degree loft gaps (48, 54 and 60 degrees) before turning to a four-wedge configuration (48, 52, 56 and 60 degrees) in advance of the U.S. Open. I’ve even seen Dustin Johnson opt for eight-degree loft gaps one week (52 and 60 degrees) and then add a second lob wedge (64 degrees) for the next start.
What does all of this tell you? Wedge setup decisions are purely course-dependent.
Sure, there’s a “common” wedge setup — and it typically includes four scoring clubs. Just don’t get stuck on the lofts if you decide to follow the lead of Rory, JT and Brooks.
Instead, I’d recommend heeding Rory’s advice and concentrating more on the course you’re playing to determine if you’d be better off with three or four wedges.
“If your home course is on the longer side, maybe consider going with just three wedges, because you’d probably benefit from a hybrid or another fairway wood,” McIlroy said. “The opposite would probably be the case for shorter courses where you’ll have more wedges in your hand.”
And if you find yourself needing to strengthen or weaken a wedge or two in an attempt to hit certain yardages, make sure you check out our handy cheat sheet to see what happens to your wedge(s) when you alter loft.