Golf equipment: What we learned from our wedge testAugust, 2013 Equipment
PGA Pro James Whitaker offers some advice on these short game weapons after a day of testing them
52˚ wedges are a dead animal
Most current iron sets – especially towards the game-improvement end – have pitching wedges with much stronger lofts than you’d expect. The average wedge used to be around 48˚, which gave a great gap with the 52˚. However, some sets on the market right now have wedges with 45˚ and less. My advice is to invest in a 50˚ – it gives a much better gap and will help with your consistency.
Not a bad wedge in the bunch
Usually when we do group tests there is at least one club that fails to win over at least one tester. Not one wedge in our test received unanimous negativity – in fact only a few had any bad comments at all. What this tells us is that with wedges being so personal, every one will appeal to someone.
Longer hitters can take advantage of more wedges
The main reason most people are recommended to carry just two specialist wedges (usually 52˚ & 58˚) is so they can add in another club at the top end of the set – another hybrid or a longer iron to give them more options in their long game. If you are a long hitter, though, think about adding in an extra wedge instead of that long iron. As Phil Mickelson proves, the extra options are invaluable.
Sort out your gaps
In the average iron set, the gap in loft between clubs is usually around 4˚. Most club players I see, do not continue this into their wedges. Tighten up the gaps in your wedges to no more than 5˚ and watch your distance control improve.
Never hit a wedge at full tilt
I see this a lot of with players at my club and it is usually down to having gaps that are too big in the wedges. Hitting a wedge at full pelt is not conducive to getting consistent distances so aim to swing no more than 90 per cent.
Iron set pitching wedges go much further
Pitching wedges from iron sets are stronger in loft than they used to be and they therefore go a lot further. But loft isn’t the only reason – if you were to get a cavity-back pitching wedge and a specialist wedge, both with the same loft, length and shaft, you would see a considerable difference in ball speed and spin. I conducted a test on TrackMan and it was clear that the iron-set wedges imparted less spin and more speed.
Some finishes look better on shelf than behind the ball
Everyone in our test team loved how the exotic finishes looked on the shelf – the oil can and black nickel varieties in particular. However, at address it was a different story. Almost exclusively, classic satin or chrome was judged to look considerably better next to the ball. Think about this before buying what looks good.