Bounce Your Way to the Green

Trevor Immelman, 2008 Masters champion, shot a five-under 66, and is two strokes off the lead.
Darren Carroll/SI

Frank Thomas is a former technical director of the United States Golf Association. He has written several books about golf equipment, the most recent being 'Just Hit It: Our Equipment and Our Game.'

If you have a question about golf equipment, e-mail him at inquiries@franklygolf.com.

Dear Frank,
I am considering replacing a couple of my wedges. I have used 52° and 56° wedges in addition to my pitching wedge for many years. I am planning to stay with those lofts but wonder how to select bounce for each. Should it be the same or different?

Thanks,
Mel

Mel,
Wedges and short irons are our scoring clubs, and they require some special attention.

A modern pitching wedge has about 46° of loft, and a sand wedge has about 56°. That leaves a 10° gap, which should be filled with a gap wedge with a loft of 50° to 52° and a bounce of about 8°.

The bounce is the angle the sole makes with the ground, from the higher leading edge to the lower back portion, when the club is in the normal address position. A large bounce—which is normally slightly rounded—will prevent the club from digging into the turf or sand. It allows the club to glide through or bounce off soft surfaces. This helps prevent fat short-iron shots.

So, Mel, your 52° wedge should have an 8° bounce unless you are a "digger" and take heavy divots, in which case a 10° bounce may be a better choice. You will want a 14° bounce on your 56° wedge, assuming this is the club you use out of the sand most of the time.

For those who use a lob wedge of 60° to 64° (not something I recommend unless you are prepared to practice with it), you do not want very much bounce—6° to 7° is plenty. More bounce than this will cause thin shots and put you well beyond your target.

All the best,
Frank

For more from Frank Thomas, go to franklygolf.com.

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