Make your wedges, and your game, more versatile with the right mix of bounce angles

March 3, 2013

I find that most of my students are pretty tuned in to their woods and hybrids. They know what to expect from each club and can usually rattle off the key specs (loft, clubface angle, shaft flex, etc.). Although they’re less informed about their irons and assume that what they bought off the rack works for their swings, they’ve often done some homework when it comes to their wedges. Most of them are aware of the trajectory and backspin they get with each one, as well as the loft built into each model. When I ask about bounce angle, however, the room usually just falls silent.

If this sounds familiar to you, then you may have a problem. It’s critical to outfit your wedge set with a variety of bounces, and at the very least, you should be able to point out the wedge with the lowest amount of bounce and the one with the highest. Even if you own a perfect wedge swing, it’s the bounce that ultimately determines how each club will react with the turf, sand, water—or whatever else your ball may be sitting in—through impact. The bounce on your wedges is just as important as the attack angle of your swing. The two combine to help you maintain speed through the ball or—gulp—dig into the ground and slow down.

For example, let’s say the ball is lying on hard, wet sand. If you try to hit this shot with a high-bounce sand wedge, you’re going to have a difficult time getting the ball out of the bunker. But if you know that your lob wedge has less bounce and that less bounce performs better from this type of lie, you’re in a much better position to save par. The opposite applies when you have to play a shot from soft sand. In this situation, more bounce will help the club glide instead of dig.

Take a few minutes to research the bounce angle on each of your wedges. If your clubs don’t have a bounce value stamped on them (for example, 55/12 means 55 degrees of loft and 12 degrees of bounce), ask your pro or custom club shop for help. The important thing is to learn if the range of bounces in your wedge set is wide enough to tackle whatever the course throws at you. Regardless of the lofts you carry, make sure that your wedges offer a low-bounce, mid-bounce and high-bounce option.

The perfect wedge set features loft gaps of 4 to 5 degrees between each club 
 and a range of bounce angles to handle all the conditions in which you typically play. If your current set falls short of this standard, then you’re just making the game more difficult—and adding strokes to your score—every time you play.