How Many Degrees is a Sand Wedge? What is the Correct Loft
Every golfer should have a sand wedge in their club set in the event that they find themselves in a bunker and, since you’re here, we’re assuming you’re interested in finding out more about them. Whether it’s a precaution or because you’ve had trouble in the past (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us), this article should fill you in on the need to know information regarding these wedges.
Sand Wedge Degrees
So, how many lofts are there for sand wedges? The answer is actually very simple since the overwhelmingmajority of sand wedges carry a loft of 55 to 56 degrees, with some lofts being as low as 54 or as high as 58. Either way, the sand wedge will be the highest loft club if you’re working with a traditional club set, or the second-highest if you also have a lob wedge.
Which wedge degree you choose will depend on several factors, mainly your club set and your skill level with the sand wedges themselves. We go through these in more detail below, so stick around if you want to learn how to best apply a sand wedge that complements your club set and skill level.
With a possible total of fourteen clubs allowed in your club set, you have a lot of freedom in what types of clubs you take to the green. A pro golfer always has a club for any occasion but only takes what they need with them to a game. For example, if you’re anticipating that you’ll need longer game performance then you’ll want a woods-oriented club set over one that has more wedges.
58-Degree Sand Wedge
We’ve included an example of each below to help communicate how sand wedges fit into possible club sets. That woods-oriented club set we mentioned above is a great combination no matter the golfer’s skill level, anyone can get used to it. We’d take one driver, a fairway wood, a hybrid, the iron of our choice, a putter, and then finish off with three wedges, a 50-degree pitching wedge, a 54-degree gap wedge, and, of course, a 58-degree sand wedge.
As you can see, the wedge spacing means there’s a neat four degrees between each one. This is a very economical setup since the three wedges should have most wedge shots covered whilst the lack of a fourth makes room for another club to be added, preferably one that’s better at the long game to balance this club set out which is why we chose a hybrid. As the sand wedge here is the highest loft club, you can use it as it was intended to escape from bunkers but also open-face it and use it as if it were a 60-degree lob wedge. You know your playstyle and the local fairways the best, however, so feel free to experiment with the examples here to best fit your typical golfing performance.
56-Degree Sand Wedge
Our more wedge-heavy example would start out similar, your driver, a fairway wood, your iron, your putter, but then we’d have a 48-degree pitching wedge, a 52-degree gap wedge, a 56-degree sand wedge, and a 60-degree lob wedge. Once again, you can see that the wedges here follow the advice of having four degrees of loft difference between each other so that they aren’t too similar and can be used for a variety of strikes.
This would be a consistent setup, prizing a consistent performance over superiority in the long and short games, and because of that, it fairs quite well in both. Its adherence to the four degrees of loft separation common in wedges only makes it a more effective kit when you’re closing in on the last 120 yards.
The winning performance of a club set like this will hinge on your mastery of fractional wedge shots, so this isn’t the kind of setup you go into blind. If you can pull off the quarter, half, and three-quarter shots with each wedge then your shot possibility has grown from just the four wedge shots to sixteen variations of those shots.
You can have the best kit available and still flop if you haven’t put those hours in the course. Sand wedges are a paradox since people only really get experience with them after they’ve messed up, assuming the wedge is being used to get out of a bunker, meaning that the skilled application of a sand wedge can be a blind spot in many skilled players unless they make a conscious effort to train with them.
This gives sand wedges a reputation for being unwieldy, which isn’t entirely unearned given their fat and heavy soles ideals for churning sand away from the golf ball. As covered above, however, some master the use of wedges to apply them in the short game. If you’re struggling with either of these methods of using a sand wedge, see some of our tips below.
You should follow the common advice that getting your ball out of the bunker is the top priority. Before you think about anything else, like how far away the flag is or whether you can squeeze some extra distance out of the bunker shot, just make sure you escape the bunker when your club meets the ball. You can do this by first making a big swing to compensate for the dampening effect the sand has on all your club impacts. Remember to strike with an open face, a very open face, to add bounce to your club so it doesn’t get bogged down in the sand.
Also, remember that there are strategic differences between a greenside or a fairway bunker, so for a fairway bunker, you may want to ease up your swing to maintain control of the golf ball and where it’s going. Start working on improving your swing tempo and balance and soon, you’ll find out getting out of bunker way easier.
Since the sand wedge is one of, if not the, heaviest club in your bag, you’ll find the tour pros reaching for it when they need to make a surgical strike that can stop on a dime. While it may seem strange to use the sand wedge outside of the sand, they use the same principle as their sand performance, which is their generous loft, to power through thick lies.
Proficiency with lofted clubs will only come with time and experience but, as when you’re trapped in a bunker, don’t be afraid of opening the face a tad so that the club’s flange is in play and can establish a gliding action upon impact. You’ll also be making a bigger swing than you’re used to, which can feel counterintuitive but you’ll get used to it when you see the results.