Let's face it:
Once you get well below the 20-handicap mark, you should be looking to improve your short game even more.
And for that, you need the optimal rescue clubs.
So let's find them.
We compare the best wedges for mid handicappers available on the market right now and how to choose the perfect ones for you.
Table of Contents
The Best Wedges for Mid Handicappers in 2020
Wedges for intermediate Players: Buying Guide
What Are Wedges?
They are a species of irons, with the shortest shafts, heaviest club heads, and the highest loft angles. Wedges gradually became a part of the modern golf set in the 20th century, when several innovators designed customized existing short irons to perform better in difficult conditions like the sand, rough and tight lies. They have become so essential to golfers in the modern game that an estimated 25% of all shots played in a round of golf involves wedges. They can help you get out of jail with shots from bunkers to the green to get a par score, and can even be used to hit birdies. They are the quintessential scoring clubs that any golfer worth his/her salt must learn how to wield effectively.
Different Kinds Of Wedges
There are four main types of wedges, based on their loft angles and utility:
Pitching Wedge (PW):
The oldest type of wedge, the PW is, in fact, a direct descendant of the "niblick," a blade-style, high lofted club used for short approach shots. When loft angles were standardized, the niblick was split into two clubs, the standard 9-iron, and a higher lofted Pitching Wedge. The wedge name was adopted to match it to the more famous Sand Wedge designed by Gene Sarazen in the 1930s. The current PW has a loft angle between 44-48 and is used for approach shots within a maximum range of 125 yards.
Sand Wedge (SW):
The first club to carry the wedge label, the SW was famously designed by Gene Sarazen, who was inspired by aircraft wing flaps during a flight aboard Howard Hughes' private plane in the 1930s. The thicker club head and wide angled sole design became a huge success and was adopted by many manufacturers for their short irons. The Sand Wedge is lofted between 54-58 degrees and is used from sand bunkers.
Gap Wedge (GW):
When the loft angles of pitching wedges were gradually reduced by manufacturers in the 1980s and '90s, there was a wide gap in loft between the Pitching Wedge and Sand Wedge. This meant that in particular situations you either had to over-hit with a PW or swing lightly with an SW. Gap Wedges were designed with a loft between 49-53 degrees to bridge this "gap," and have an option where you can strike the ball with your normal full swing. These wedges are useful, for shots within 80-100 yards from the pin. Gap wedges are also called Attack Wedges (AW).
Lob Wedge (LW):
The LW was designed in the 1980s to help golfers tackle new greens which were more challenging that traditional greens, with undulating and elevated surfaces, surrounding hazards and tougher approaches. Lob wedges are lofted very high, between 58-64 degrees, and are ideal for high arced shots that land on the greens with minimal roll on the surface. They are very useful for close range shots within 50-60 yards from the pin.
Wedges and Skill Levels
Beginners in golf should not concern themselves with the higher lofted wedges. They should learn the wedge game by using the Pitching wedge initially, before taking up the higher lofts.
As for high handicappers, they can comfortably make do with a high-quality PW and SW. The best wedges for intermediate golfers are a PW, SW, and LW, with a GW as an optional extra. Mid handicappers with handicaps closer to 10 should ideally carry the full complement of Pitching Wedge, Gap Wedge, Sand Wedge and Lob Wedge since by that stage the short game should be their prime focus for improvement.
Regarding design, wedges do not have the level of technological innovation that other clubs sport. For instance, the best irons for mid handicappers and the best drivers for mid handicappers will have a lot of features including perimeter weighting, movable weights, adjustable lofts, cavity back designs and much more.
Lack of proper gapping defeats the whole purpose of buying a PW and SW with a GW in between. Proper gapping ensures that for each lie within 120 yards, you have a club that you use with a full swing, instead of trying risky under-powered/over-powered shots. The ideal gap between club lofts is somewhere in the vicinity of 4-6 degrees.
For average players, the wedges should have a loft gapping of 4 degrees. Better players might get more optimal performance from higher gaps, but 4 degrees is a safe number. For instance, an example of ideal loft gapping in a wedge set would be a 46 degree Pitching Wedge, with a 50 degree Gap Wedge, a 54 degree Sand Wedge, and finally, a 58 degree Lob Wedge.
Ideal Bounce And Sole Grinds
The bounce on a wedge is the design and angle at the sole of the club, the surface which regularly comes in contact with the ground surface. Lower bounce angles (between 4-6 degrees) is ideal if you have a lot of sweep shots, or play on courses with firm, links-type surfaces.
Mid bounce (7-10 degrees) is considered the jack of all trades, with enough versatility to handle different surface conditions and swing styles with aplomb. Choose this if you are unsure about your course conditions or swing. High bounce (above 10 degrees) is considered optimal for players whose swings have a tendency to dig deep into the ground, and for softer parkland-style courses.
Sole grinds are added by manufacturers to optimize a wedge for specific turf conditions and shots. These are created by machining down the sole of the club head, either at heel or toe, to achieve specific shapes. Sole grinds are advanced features, and you should get advice from your Teaching Pro or a club fitter to figure out the best sole grind for you.
For more info on bounce angles, check out this informative YouTube Video:
Conclusion and Editors Choice
A shortlist of the best golf wedges for mid-handicappers has to include clubs that offer varying levels of forgiveness. Some players prefer more playability while others want more forgiveness for a relaxed game.
So, on our short list, we have tried to include some of the best golf wedges on the market with wide variations regarding forgiveness. In fact, at least a couple of our selections could very well find themselves on a list of the best wedges for high handicappers as well!
But that is all fine since there is a fair bit of overlap regarding golf player skill levels and club categories. For those who prefer more playability and finesse, Titleist Vokey SM6 wedges offer a great set of features. For those looking for extra forgiveness, it is hard not to recommend the Cleveland Smart Sole 2.0 series of wedges. That wraps up our review of mid handicapper wedges.
If you are on the hunt for other clubs as well, we also have reviews on the best drivers for mid handicappers, and the best irons for mid handicappers on our site. Do check them out!