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Solid wedge play will lower scores

By: Shawn Kelly Journal Golf Columnist
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How many wedges do you carry in your bag? Some players carry two or three and some may even carry four.
I personally carry three: a 49-degree pitching wedge, a 54-degree sand wedge and a 59-degree lob wedge. These lofts allow me to control distances from 125 yards to within 25 or less from the hole and control trajectory of the ball flight.
Most sets come with a pitching wedge that has a loft any where from 46 to 50 degrees, depending on the club’s center of gravity. Determining its loft and how far you hit it will help you decide what other wedges you will need to control the distances in your game.
I personally choose to not use the stock wedge that comes with my irons, but prefer using a Taylor Made 48-degree wedge with 4 degrees of bounce. I then bent it one degree stronger to 49 degrees, because I feel this is the perfect wedge to help me maximize the range of this club and achieve lower scores.
Then I set my other wedges five degrees apart to allow me to control my desired distances. Most top companies offer a 48-degree pitching wedge set this way in their wedge selection.
The bounce of the wedge is also something to consider. The type of turf or sand you normally play on will help determine how much bounce is best for you. Bounce is the angle of the sole of the club; different bounce can give you a different feel and reaction at impact.
Some wedges may have soles that have no bounce but rather a wide sole to help execute a shot. These can make it easier for some players to hit some sand shots.
Grooves can be another column all by itself. I personally don’t see much practical difference in the grooves because a solid hit will spin all you want. My recommendation is to get a good, quality wedge with the old grooves and play them ‘til they wear out. The groove issue is mainly for Tour players and USGS tournament play.
Club fitters have the expertise to bend your current wedges to fine-tune your distance control. Some wedges on the market can be bent to the best loft and lie that fit your swing and game. Come by the shop and I can check your wedges and fit them to your game.
Whichever wedges you choose are used to control varied distances to help you score. I have discussed in the past how I use three swings with three wedges to control my ball flight every 25 yards through 125 yards to the hole. This is my scoring system and it will never change. I practice these distances a lot and this allows me to score low.
The short irons are your scoring clubs. With all the different terrain and grass conditions around the greens you’ll need an arsenal of wedges to help you control all types of shots. Come by the golf shop and demo a few different wedges to see what may be best for you.
Good luck, play well and… Go Giants!
Shawn Kelly is the head PGA professional at The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn. Call him with questions or for lessons at (530) 888-PUTT.