Wedges are scoring clubs. Whether you are 100 yards out or just off the fringe, chances are you are reaching for a wedge. Which one you choose depends on a few different things and is in many ways a personal choice from one golfer to another. Looking at pitching wedge vs lob wedge and their differences goes to show how these choices can affect your score on the course.
- A Pitching Wedge might be part of your iron set
- Loft isn’t the only difference.
- Many shots can be played with both
When is a Wedge not a Wedge?
The pitching wedge is an interesting club because it is really the transition between the iron set and the ‘real’ wedges. All irons sets are generally sold from 3/4/5 iron at the longest to pitching wedge (and occasionally gap wedge too depending on the set.)
This means that for the majority of golfers, their pitching wedge is actually a ten iron. It will look and play like the rest of the set. This is fine depending on how you play. If the pitching wedge is a club you use to hit a distance, like a nine or eight iron, it makes sense to have something that blends in with the other irons. However, this might be missing a trick if you want to improve closer to the greens.
For example, I generally now play a 46 Vokey wedge instead of my pitching wedge from the set. Why would I do this? Well, I can hit the same shots I can with my set pitching wedge but it also gives me another option for the short game. This is where it gets interesting in relation to the rest of my wedges too, especially the lob wedge.
One shot, Several Options
Golf is about as far from a one dimensional game as you can get and club choice is a very obvious, but underused, example of this. If we take my lob wedge and my pitching wedge, it illustrates this perfectly.
Unfortunately, a lot of golfers will just associate these clubs with the distance of the shot. If you are pitching from further out, use a pitching wedge. If you are close in, suddenly it is all about the lob wedge. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but it ignores a host of options.
Let’s take an example. My ball is sitting 3 yards off the green. What club do I hit? From this information, who knows? Justin Rose used a three would from the edge of the green on his way to winning the US Open. Phil Mickelson has famously used his lob wedge from on the putting surface many times. Sitting five yards off the green in a pot bunker and five yards away on a closely cut pre-green are going to give two very different answers.
SO let’s specify a bit. My ball is five yards off the green in light rough with no obstacle between me and the putting surface. You might now be thinking 56 degree or lob wedge. But once again, it isn’t that simple. Just because it is a short shot, it doesn’t need to be with your most lofted club. A bump and run with a pitching wedge is an excellent option here.
Loft and Bounce: The Keys to Wedge Selection
Of course, what I am driving at is that it isn’t all about loft. A pitching wedge, depending on the model and whether it is a set wedge or a specialist wedge, will have something between 43-50 degrees of loft, most commonly around say 45 degrees. A lob wedge is usually a wedge that has from 58 to 64 degrees of loft. If we look at my current set up, my pitching wedge has 46 degrees of loft and my lob wedge, depending on what is in the bag, 58. 12 degrees difference. This means one club is going to hit it further than the other, but a 58 degree club is also going to launch higher than 46.
If I need to go up and over something, loft is almost certainly going to be my friend. If I want to stop the ball quickly, the same thing is true. However, if I want the ball to go lower or run, 46 degrees would be more appropriate. OK, that is fine but loft is only have the story. The other key difference when looking a pitching wedge vs lob wedge will be bounce.
Bounce is basically the angle between the leading edge and the floor. A club with very little bounce can sit closer to the floor but might also have a tendency to dig in. When looking at wedges, bounce can be your friend. The common advice to the average golfer is to use less loft in their short game, but if your lob wedge has a lot of loft, this could be a good reason to ignore that advice.
bounce is one of the keys to forgiveness in wedges. As much as a 60 degree wedge with low bounce, say 4-6 degrees, should probably only be put in the hands of a good golfer, the same wedge with 16 degrees of bounce could be a very friendly club indeed. It will help with fat and thin shots, get the ball out of the sand more easily and pop it out of the rough too.
Pitching Wedge vs Lob Wedge: A Personal Choice
As much as I generally prefer fewer clubs in the bag, I think that having a different choices on shots, especially around the green can make the game interesting and help to develop both playing skills and thinking on the course. As a practice drill, playing the same shot twice with these two clubs is a great idea. It will show up the differences, help you find what you really prefer and also may just show that for your game, the common wisdom doesn’t necessarily hold true.