If you can hit the ball reasonably well from tee to green, most of your handicap is built from 30 yards and in. In order to hit the variety of short shots you are faced with, and hit them well, you have to have the right talent, but also the right clubs.
Which clubs you really need to hit to save strokes from close in is a question each golfer should ask and answer.
Everybody has a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. The question is whether to add a gap wedge of 52-54 degrees and/or a lob wedge of 58-60 degrees.
Do you think there are short shots you frequently hit that would turn out better with a different wedge, or wouldn’t be so much work with a different wedge? If so, read on.
Different courses place different demands on your short game. If the course you play on finds you having to hit into the green from under 100 yards more than a few times, then four wedges, calibrated to known pitching distances would be a good way to go.
Another way to answer the question is, how much work are you willing to put in to learn what that extra club can do for you? I don’t mean hours and hours, but I do mean at least a few honest hours at the practice green learning how to differentiate this wedge from the others you already have.
From the same place, a different wedge makes it a different shot. Knowing that difference is what will save you that extra stroke or not.
If you won’t put in this time to learn the uses for each wedge, the extra wedge will only add confusion and frustration to your game.
Realize in addition that if you add a fourth wedge to your bag, you have to take out a club, which would likely be a long fairway club of some kind.
To make the trade, consider whether adding a wedge will save you more strokes than you might lose by removing the longer club. Golfers who are long and accurate might not benefit.
There is no pat answer on this issue. It all depends on your playing skills, your style of maneuvering the ball around the course, and the amount of time you can devote to short game practice.
In the end, look at it this way. If you think the extra wedge will save you a stroke or two every round, add it. If it’s a stroke or two every month, don’t bother.
However you build your set of wedges, try to keep the gaps of loft consistent.
For example, if a pitching wedge has 48 degrees of loft, a good three-wedge set is 48-54-60. 48-56-60 would be OK, but a set running 48-58-60 has too much of a gap between the PW and the sand wedge, and too little difference between the SW and the lob wedge.
A good four-wedge progression would be 48-52-56-60.
Then there’s bounce and sole width to consider, but that would be turning this article into a book.
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