FRIDAY, JUNE 15: Everyone knows that correctly fitted clubs will improve a golfer’s game. However, wedges are one area that is quite often overlooked when being fitted for clubs.
Generally, 70 per cent of the game is from within a hundred yards.
It is crucial to improve this part of the game if you want to reduce your handicap.
As one gets closer to the hole, direction becomes increasingly less important and distance exponentially crucial.
While there have been leaps in technology in regards to drivers and irons, most manufacturers pay mere lip service to the most important clubs in the bag.
Most wedges are very similar in design to those that have been around for the last fifty years or so, in that they are a classic blade style because peripheral weight design does not really help with the wedges.
The problem, as I see it, is there is no truly defined way to fit the short game.
A good club maker or fitter can accurately fit a golfer for their woods and irons using the time proven methods involving lie boards, impact stickers, swing speed metres, launch monitors etc, but because the short game has been coined a “game within a game” the same principles don’t apply.
Just because a golfer needs, let us say 1/2″ longer than standard irons, it does not follow that the same lengths will be best for the wedges.
In my own personal wedges, I use four lengths of shaft, standard, plus 1/2″, plus 1″ and standard.
There is the “Vanishing Loft Disease.”
Over the last 20 years or so, the golf industry has been guilty of strengthening lofts in the pursuit of distance.
Whilst this creates more distance in the mid irons, it has two detrimental effects on the set of clubs.
It makes the long irons so straight faced that they become unhittable for the average golfer, and secondly, the gap between pitching wedge and sand wedge becomes unacceptable.
The modern 47 degree PW and 55 degree SW simply does not work, and so gap wedges, etc have become part of the modern set of clubs.
You can see why sales have gone up on equipment — The customer is actually being conned.
In addition, the modern ball spins much less making it harder to get the ball airborne, you cannot rely on spin to get the ball up, you need to launch it higher than before.
I have seen the latest model from a major manufacturer, and the PW is 43 degrees!
This is equivalent to an 8 iron from the 1980’s. No wonder we are hitting the ball further. By dropping the obsolete long irons, we have the opportunity to carry more wedges to solve these yardage problems. I used to carry a 1, 2 and 3 iron, I now find I can barely hit a 4 iron.
My own wedges include 5 lofts, 48, 52, 54, 58 and 64 degrees. I also have a few varieties of bounce and sole grind. Just to give me more options.
Sole bounce is dependent on the technique used and the course conditions. Inland, parkland courses tend to have lusher fairways than those at seaside courses and so wedges need more bounce.
Hard sand in bunkers would mean less bounce on sand wedges and the opposite for courses with soft sand.
For the serious golfer who plays at a variety of courses it is well worth considering owning a variety of wedges in both loft and bounce.
Too much bounce on hardpan lies or links type fairways can cause that fabulous shot – the thin. It’s simple to understand, if you catch the ball ever so slightly heavy, the club bounces and the leading edge catches the ball above the ground, not quite the equator, but enough to give very little spin/control.
However, in my opinion if combined with good technique the more bounce on a wedge the better.
So if you are looking for a present for Father’s day, my recommendation is to purchase a wedge and a certificate for a 30 minute wedge lesson where the coach can show ‘Dad’ how to use his new weapon.
How do you know what wedge to get?
Just buy a nice looking one and any good golf shop will let you exchange it as long as Dad does not use it.
My favourite brand is a Callaway and their new Copper wedges are the ideal gift for any Fathers Day!
Paul Adams is the PGA director of golf at Rosewood Tucker’s Point.