I was tagged on Twitter recently by a reader who posed the question below about sand wedge loft with this accompanying photo.
Yes, you see correctly, that is a 72° lob wedge! The ball flight must be higher than it is forward.
The question is interesting, too. I haven’t put any thought into it before now – and it certainly stirred some debate in the NCG office.
Currently, there are no restrictions on sand wedge loft or the loft of any other golf club. In other words, you can carry a 90-degree lob wedge if you wish, or a 1-degree driver.
But should there be a limit on wedge loft? It’s fair to say Tom Irwin and I disagree on this one. I’ll let him start…
‘Why would we make the game harder than it already is?’
Anything that makes golf harder has to be a bad thing, writes Tom Irwin. The game is basically impossible to do well as it is.
The marginal gain of carrying anything higher than a 64-degree wedge is so small and relevant to such a small portion of players skilful enough to use one that restricting lofts just feels like a rule for a rule’s sake.
Carrying a high lofted wedge will doubtless lead to a compromise in the bag elsewhere, removing a hybrid or a lofted fairway – clubs likely to save more shots per round.
Finally, how many times a round is the lofted wedge likely to be used? Twice? And how many times effectively? Probably none.
So, no, there is no need for a limit
‘Surely using a club with so much loft is taking away skill’
To quote the R&A, the Equipment Rules of Golf “protect the traditions of the game, prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than on practice and skill, and preserve skill differentials throughout the game.” Surely then, writes Hannah Holden, using a club with so much loft is taking away skill?
You don’t have to watch many club golfers play to see how much skill is involved in an excellent short game and how much practice and craft it takes to improve this part of your game. Undoubtedly, some of the most challenging shots are high, floaty flop shots and short-sided bunker shots.
A club with 72 degrees of loft make these shots significantly more straightforward as you don’t need a proper technique to execute the shots. Indeed that is taking away skill, which the golf equipment rules are designed to prevent.
As for what I think the legal loft limit should be? Sixty degrees seems an excellent place to lay the marker. It offers plenty of loft that, with manipulation, can generate enough height to control lots of shots around the green, but it also requires enough skill to create the right shots.
Should there be a legal limit on loft? Let me know what you think. If you’re after more equipment content, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and if you have any questions about anything gear related, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram.
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