What are the Best Wedges for beginners in 2017?
When you buy your beginner set of irons, a wedge or two is usually provided along with it. Early on, when you are still grappling with the basics of proper swing and stance, wedges are not a priority. But it is better to get a full set of these high scoring clubs sooner rather than later. Wedges come into play much closer to the green than the longer woods and drivers and can have a more direct impact on your final score. And these are the clubs that you turn to when your relative lack of accuracy as a beginner gets you into sand bunkers and all sorts of nasty lies. Keeping that in mind, here is a shortlist of the best wedges for beginners in 2017:
What Are Wedges?Just as a driver is a type of fairway wood, wedges are a sort of specialized irons. This is why most standard iron sets offer at least a pitching wedge (PW) as part of the package. Some manufacturers offer an option to include multiple wedges along with their irons. So you can either buy wedges individually or have some as part of an iron set. Wedges are the highest lofted irons, with loft angles above and beyond the short irons. There are four main types of wedges:
Pitching Wedge (PW):
- Pitching Wedge (PW): The lowest lofted wedge is considered to be a scoring club since it is used most often to land the golf ball onto the green with the minimal forward roll. This is the first wedge you will have to master as a beginner. You can use these for full shots and some of the longer chips towards the hole. Loft angles: 44-48.
Gap Wedge (GW):
- Gap Wedge (GW): The need for these newer wedges arose in the 1990s when the decreasing lofts on iron sets and their Pitching Wedges created a gap between that club and the Sand Wedge (SW). Gap wedges are also called utility wedges or attack wedges. When you are in a lie that doesn't require the distance of the PW or the loft of the SW, you can use a GW with your natural swing, rather than using either of those other wedges with a light or heavy swing. Loft angles: 50-54.
Sand Wedge (SW):
- Sand Wedge (SW): The oldest among wedges along with the PW, the sand wedge is used for hitting the ball high into the air from a sand bunker/tall grass. They are designed with a thick head and minimal spin. Low spin is essential if you want to prevent the ball from bouncing too much and rolling away from the cup. Loft angles: 54-58.
Lob Wedges (LW):
- Lob Wedges (LW): These highest lofted wedges are also the newest kids on the block. As their name suggests, they are used to lob the ball high into the air, over and above tall obstacles. You can also use these wedges from a bunker near the green to land the ball softly on the green with minimal roll or bounce, much like a sand wedge. Loft angles: 59-65.
The Importance of Proper GappingThe maximum range/yardage of a golf club is related to the loft angle. When designing an iron set, manufacturers ensure that there is an even spacing between the loft angles of each club in the set, so that no distance range is left uncovered. The optimum gap between irons is considered to be around 4 degrees. To identify the ideal loft angle when shopping for your wedges, start with PW you get with your iron set. If it has a loft angle of 48 degrees, get a GW with 52 degrees, and an SW with 56 degrees, and LW of 60 degrees of loft for optimal spacing.
How Many Wedges To CarryIf you are focusing a lot on the shorter game closer to the green, it might make sense to get all four wedges into your 14 club set. For example, a set including a driver, 3-5 wood, 4-5hybrid, 6-9 irons, and a putter, will leave you with the slots to include all four wedges. But if you want to bring along extra long clubs, you can switch to a three wedge combination and leave out the LW. For instance, there are some who believe that the best lob wedge for high handicappers is something that doesn't exist since it is important for beginners to learn the lower lofted wedges first. Most Tour Pros focus a lot on their short game and tend to bring at least the regulation three, if not the full complement of all four wedges.
Suitability and HandicapWedges don't have a very clear demarcation regarding player handicaps when compared to other clubs like drivers, woods or irons. Unlike game improvement irons or max game improvement drivers, you will not usually find a list of the best wedges for high handicappers since wedges are the shortest clubs and pose fewer challenges for beginners when compared to longer clubs. But nonetheless, you will still find particular wedges with added forgiveness which brings them into the category of best wedges for high handicappers.
Other Features To Look Out ForBounce: The Bounce is the angle at which the leading edge of a wedge sits when the club is held perpendicular to the ground with its sole touching surface. The bounce of a wedge is usually within the 0-14 degree range. Bounce prevents the wedge from digging into the turf. The best wedges on the market will have a multitude of bounce options to choose from. Lower bounce (4-6) is ideal for firmer turfs and coarser sand, while high bounce (above 10) is for softer turf and finer sand. Sole Grinds: These days, wedges are available with additional shaping on their soles, either at the heel or toe. This can improve the way you shape shots with a wedge, but you will need the help of a professional to decide the ideal sole grind to suit your individual play style. Finish: This is almost entirely a subjective issue since it affects the looks of the club more than the performance. Raw finishes are an exception since they can rust over time, increasing friction and improving the chances of adding extra spin. Other than that, painted finishes might wear down faster while chrome and nickel finishes tend to last longer. The best wedges golf clubmakers produce in the higher price ranges will have more durable finishes.
As a beginner, you don’t necessarily have pay top dollar to get a competent set of wedges that suit your handicap level. Wilson has built their reputation around providing beautiful quality clubs at very affordable prices.
The Harmonized series have earned a devoted fan following for their classic chrome finish, simple yet classic design and effortless playability.
These are highly reliable clubs that will stand you in good stead as you learn the intricacies of the short game.
What we like
- Outstanding value for money at a very low price point.
- Available in durable chrome finish, a black finish version with less longevity is also available.
- Tour grinds help with various lies.
- The grooves on the head provide decent amounts of spin.
What we dislike
- Some players found the wedges to be too heavy.
- Doesn’t have the performance comparable to the (more expensive) big brands.
Cleveland is the acknowledged leader in the short game, and their popular 588 series were considered to be some of the best golf wedges ever. But they have ditched the famous 588 monikers for the more modern Rotex Face brand, or RTX.
These wedges incorporate a lot of cutting edge technology, and it does make a difference. Beginners can look at the bigger cavity back (CB) model with improved CoG, V sole grinds and better spin from the Rotex face.
The wedges are available in both steel and graphite shafts, and in three different finish options.
What we like
- The black satin finish looks great and is more durable than similar finishes from other manufacturers.
- The Feel Balancing Technology has improved the Center of Gravity and the overall feel and feedback from the clubs.
- Laser milled Rotex grooves add additional spin.
- Comes in three sole options, with low, medium and high bounce.
- Their 60-degree wedge is probably the best lob wedge for any high handicapper, due to added forgiveness from the cavity back design.
What we dislike
- Expensive when compared to other options.
- Finding the right grind will require expert assistance.
Featuring different versions of the high spin grooves that prompted the legendary Phil Mickelson to call them “Mack Daddy,” these wedges from Callaway offer a different rate of spin with each wedge.
Other than the variable spin levels, Callaway has also improved the overall balance and control of the wedges by shaving off excess weight from the back of the clubhead.
The four holes created as a result add to the overall good looks of this series.
What we like
- Increased width on the soles improves forgiveness.
- Looks classy in chrome.
- The groove optimization improves the performance of the specialized wedges.
- Three sole grinds and numerous loft angles offer a wide array of choice.
What we dislike
- The price is on the higher side.
- Though a very solid club, the overall performance is not exactly game changing.
They may not make the best wedges for mid handicappers, but Pinemeadow is a decent option if you want some dirt cheap wedges to practice as a beginner.
Available in both left and right-hand orientations, these wedges as available in the GW, SW and LW loft angle, and are ideal if you already have a 48 degree PW along with your iron set.
Though they miss out on any fancy technological innovations, they are solid performers available at rock bottom prices.
What we like
- Very cheap and affordable club, great for beginners and casual golfers.
- Offers good performance for the price.
- Available in both left and right-hand specifications.
- Classic design with large clubface gives added forgiveness for beginners.
What we dislike
- Not the best in class when it comes to looks or build-quality.
- Fewer loft angle choices when compared to other brands.
If you are not worried about looks or brands, and just want a set of wedges to have fun on the course, this set of three from Texan Classics should suit you well.
Though they don’t look half bad with the dark paint coating, don’t expect it to last for a long time.
You will get some insane amounts of spin thanks to the sharp grooves, which can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on your situation and lie.
The price is what these wedges have going for them, and when you are getting a full set at under $20 per wedge, that is a great deal any day for a beginner golfer.
What we like
- The dark paint finish looks cool while it lasts.
- Extremely affordable set of wedges, ideal for beginners and high handicap casual golfers.
- Sharp grooves bring a lot of spin to your short game.
- Decent feel and feedback, with good consistency despite the extra spin.
What we dislike
- Not available in many loft angles.
- The spin can be a bit of an extreme.
- The finish is not durable, and the clubs are a bit on the heavier side.
Recommending the best golf wedges for mid-handicappers and beginners is not a difficult task. Particularly for beginners, the best golf wedges on the market don’t necessarily have to be the best-performing ones.
Sure, buying the best wedges golf manufacturers at the top of the food chain produce will have all the bells and whistles, including great looks and innovative technology, but a lot of that doesn’t matter for beginners. For a fraction of their price, beginners can get cheap wedges that give more value for money.
But if you want to spend top dollar, the Cleveland RTX 3 comes from a series famous for some of the best golf wedges ever and is highly recommended. Meanwhile, the Callaway Mack Daddy 3 is one of the best golf wedges for mid-handicappers with their sole grinds and groove optimization. But if you want the best beginner wedge, our vote would go for the Wilson Harmonized series, purely because they provide a solid build quality, excellent performance and good choice of loft angles all at an unbeatable price.
Before we go though, it would be incomplete if we failed to mention the Power Play Friction Face Wedge by Hireko Golf. They offer great custom fit wedges at a very appealing price point.
If you want highly customized wedges that suit your individual play style, without spending a ton of cash, seek out the Power Play Friction Face Wedge, which is available in a wide variety of club lengths, shafts, and grips.