Okay, if you didn’t know any better you’d likely think we likely have a wedge fetish or something if you read our last post about lob wedges, but I’ll tell you now, we won’t be making a post on a 64 degree wedge.
Gap wedges used to be hard to find, rarely used, and more or less unrequired for a vast portion of the golfing population. Only better players who could rattle off the lofts of all their clubs like some Sound of Music “Do Re Mi” remake would carry such a thing. Well, times are a changing my friends, and it may be time you start re-looking at the gap wedge.
The gap wedges original purpose was fit the gap in loft between the standard 48 degree pitching wedge and the sand wedge at 56. This 8 degree different often left players with a 25 yards distance where they were forced to make half swings, despite being within the 150 yard marker. Half swings are rarely a golfers best friend when it comes to consistency, so the gap wedge was born. Golfers could now hit their pitching wedges 125, gap 110 and sand wedges 95-100. So for them, this problem was solved.
For the less serious golfer however, this problem was avoided altogether, which ain’t really a big deal, until you begin to consider what golf manufacturers have started to do to your irons.
Iron sets are getting stronger and stronger in loft
Major OEM’s are continually trying to get more distance out of their irons. New technologies are helping golfers get the ball on much higher trajectories, and airborne faster and more often. This has allowed them to turn the loft of your pitching wedge into the same as an 8-iron in other sets. And as you would expect, these are rarely included in stock sets.
Here’s an example:
- The Rocketbladez pitching wedge carries a loft of 45 degrees (luckily TaylorMade also has a 50 degree gap, but of course it’s extra).
- The TaylorMade Rac MB TaylorMade pitching wedge carried a loft of 48 degrees (released in 2002).
- In the 1960’s pitching wedges had lofts of 50-51 degrees (source)
So why does this matter?
Well, for one, the loft of sand wedges and lob wedges are not changing too much at all. While you can get them in a variety of degrees, more or less the standard loft for sand wedges are between 54-56 and lob wedges are between 58-60. But now pitching wedges are carrying 45 degrees. Thats a gap of 9-11 degrees, and even for the amateur golfer, this starts to become an issue in the scoring department. We’re now looking at a 30-40 yard difference for some golfers from their pitching wedge to their sand wedge, and this is in your prime scoring zone.
So what should you buy?
And what should you get rid of (seeing as you can only have 14 clubs in your bag)? When it comes to purchasing a wedge, the best bet is to have some consistency in their differences of loft. In my bag, my pitching wedge is 46 degrees, gap wedge is 50, sand wedge is 54 and lob is 58. I’d recommend something similar. If your pitching wedge is 45 degrees, get a 50 degree gap wedge, 55 degree sand wedge and 60 degree lob (if you want/need one). When it comes to what you should get rid of that’s a slightly tougher question. Personally I have two woods, 3-9 iron, four wedges and a putter. I would suggest you rid yourself of any club often costing you strokes – and more often than not, that’s a wood or long iron. 2-hybrids can often replace a 3-wood and 3-iron.
Whatever you choose, be aware of the loft of your clubs and the distances they go, because as major OEM’s push the boundaries of technology to help improve your game, at times, gaps are opening up in your game that need to be addressed.