Sam Day works on the European Tour for TaylorMade Golf, fitting some of the best players in the world. With the focus on wedges this week, he discusses some key insights for you to think about based on his experiences with all golfers.
Wedges can often look very similar but trust me, they’re not. Having the right set up can help you get out of a tricky situation and make par or even birdie but having the wrong wedges can cost you. Understanding the different types of wedges on offer along with the different specifications can help you get the most out of your game, but the main question is - where should you start?
The first thing I’d look at is how far does your shortest iron go in your golf bag - as it will give you an indication of where your wedge set up will come into play. This will vary from player to player, but most of our athletes leave bigger gaps at the top end of their bag as they can dictate a better pitch number with a longer club; they can draw it to get to a number and they can fade it. Down at the bottom end with the shorter golf clubs they have set feels, and that is where they’ll pitch at a constant number rather than drawing or fading a wedge.
I’m sure you’ll all agree that that’s very difficult and I can only dream of hitting one of those shots so what I need and what you’ll need is to have a wedge set up down the bottom end bag to hit those numbers consistently and more effectively.
This is a question that I get asked a lot and your “conforming” bag would be your pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge. On Tour a lot of our players will play this same set-up with the only difference being that these players will have these in their bags for specific numbers that they need to hit. So, although a wedge may say 50° on the bottom that is in there for a different shot, it doesn’t mean that they’ll always play a 54° and a 58°.
Looking at my golf bag and the way I have my wedges set up, I have a 50° which is bent to the loft of 49°. Now for me that goes a set number, and I can also play my feel shots which go another number. When I drop down into my 56° which is my sand wedge, it’s actually set at 55° of loft for the same reasons as my 50°. The only time I’ll use my lob wedge is if I’ve short sided myself or I’m in a bunker, so I want the maximum amount of loft so I can hit those shots in a very standard set up. My 60° is actually bent to 61°, so although my golf clubs will say 50°, 56° and 60°, they play slightly differently. If you’re looking at you wedge set up and you think it’s not working for you then it’s definitely worth checking with your fitter how far do your wedges go and how far do you need them to go, whilst still keeping in mind that launch, spin and that carry number which is very important in the scoring clubs.
One player that I work closely is Robert MacIntyre, as someone who is playing week-in/week-out on Tour he’s competing on a wide variety of courses which demand different set ups. Bob plays his lob wedge at a finished loft of 59° but travels with 3 of them all at the same loft and lie.
Why does he do this? I can’t stress enough on how important it is for him to repeat his technique and let the club do the work for him rather than trying to manipulate it himself. By using both 58° and 60° wedge heads I can change the bounce and turf interactions for the course he’s playing on.
Using a 58° bent to 59° it adds 1° of bounce, similarly his 60° bent to 59° will reduce bounce by a degree. So, what does this all mean? We’re not grinding the wedges; we’re leaving them as they’re initially designed but by creating more and less bounce it allows Bob to make better choices with the different courses he faces out on Tour.
He travels will them all and will make his decision based on how they perform in practice and the course. Essentially, he’ll be able to choose from;
- - 59° (58° head producing 11 bounce)
- - 59° (60° head producing 9 bounce)
- - 59° (60° head producing 6 bounce)
Simply put, bounce on a golf club is the angle that’s created from the leading edge to the trail edge of the wedge. Now what that does is the higher the bounce, the higher the leading edge will sit off the ground and likewise if you’ve got a lower bounce club, the leading edge will sit tighter.
A quick way to decide bounce is to look at the courses you play most frequently. Where you're playing, whether it's soft fairway conditions or it's firm fairway conditions, can dictate how much bounce you have on your wedges. Generally, I would say with softer conditions look at more bounce and firmer conditions I would use less bounce. It’s key not only for strike but for the ball spin, control and repeating that carry number and how your golf club interacts with the turf, how it gets into the turf and out of the turf more successfully.
For 2021 our Experiential teams are going to have a select fit wedge head in the lob wedge so what that enables you to do is actually test all of these wedge shafts which we’ve not been able to do before. When you’re testing these wedge shafts, look at consistency of feel, consistency of flight and consistency of spin. The fitter is there to help you and realise what is the best set up for you, play around with lie angle, don’t stand there in full posture hitting shots that you wouldn’t hit on the golf course, work on those feel shots and really test the wedges and put it through its paces.
I hope that helps for when you’re looking to get some fresh grooves in your bag.
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