What Degree is an Approach Wedge (Approach Wedge Loft)

What Degree is an Approach Wedge? (+How To Choose)

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a teeny-tiny 🤏 affiliate commission.

Upping your golf game is all about lowering your swing count, but are your sticks helping you achieve this? 

In my experience, hitting the perfect loft is all about knowing your approach wedge angle and how this affects your shot. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the typical degree of loft for an approach wedge, how this affects ball flight and distance control, as well as how to choose the right degree of approach wedge for your game. 

Let’s get started!

Degree of Loft in an Approach Wedge

While it can vary between manufacturers, the degree of loft in an approach wedge is generally between 50 and 55 degrees. 

This angle means that it lies between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge, making it perfect for those in-between shots when you’re trying to make your way back onto the green!

When using a wedge, a higher degree of loft gives you more height and spin in your shots, making your ball stop sharply once it’s bounced. 

This is what allows a shot hit with a sand wedge to travel over the rough and land softly onto the green. 

In my experience, using a sand wedge for finesse shots works extremely well as it allows you to affect the ball’s spin more drastically.

Conversely, a wedge with a lower angle (such as a pitching wedge) gives you a lower trajectory and more rollaway. 

Its flatter flight path gives it much more forward momentum, allowing it to travel much further once it has bounced. This is better for shots closer to the green where you want to get as close to the hole as possible.  

Degree of approach wedge vs. distance

DegreeDistance (at full swing)
40 Degree WedgeAround 110 – 130 yards
50 Degree WedgeAround 90 – 110 yards 
60 Degree WedgeAround 60 – 80 yards

Type of shot vs. degree of approach wedge

Type of shotDegree
Full shot from the fairwayLow to medium angle wedge, 44° – 53°
Pitch shot from the roughHigh angle wedge, around 54° – 60°
Chip shot from around the greenMedium angle wedge, around 49° – 53°
Flop shot from over a bunkerHigh angle wedge, around 58° – 60°

Types of wedges vs. their typical degrees

Types of wedgeDegree
Pitching wedge (PW) Around 41° – 46°, 44° is most common 
Gap wedge (AW)Around 54° – 60°
Sand wedge (SW)Around 54° – 58°, 55° is most common
Lob wedge (LW)Around 60° – 65°

How to Choose the Right Degree of Approach Wedge for Your Game?

When choosing the right approach wedge for your game, it’s important to consider to consider several factors:

  • Firstly, what skill level are you? An approach wedge with a lower loft angle will decrease the power you need to hit your shots with, thus increasing your margin for error
  • Secondly, what is the angle of the other wedges in your set? Try to choose an approach wedge that fits in between your pitching wedge and sand wedge
  • Finally, what style of shots do you like to play? Golfers who like finesse shots with a higher trajectory will suit a higher loft angle, while players who like more distance control should opt for a lower loft angle.

Why is There A Need For an Approach Wedge?

Why is There A Need For an Approach Wedge

Just like golfers, club manufacturers are very competitive.

With new manufacturers springing up every day, it’s not surprising that even established brands are putting in new efforts daily to make golf clubs better and more effective.

Everybody is fighting to get a larger slice of the golf equipment pie. This means more money, effort, and time for research and development.

One common feature that players often long for is a greater distance, and this is something equipment makers would never want to take lightly. As a result, many manufacturers have re-engineered their clubs over the years.

We’ve even seen a reduction of the loft on most irons to influence distance. After all, it’s common knowledge that less loft often translates to more distance as long as a golfer hits correctly!

While irons and pitching wedges experienced more of these changes, the sand wedge typically remained the same. In other words, most modern pitching wedges can now go a lot farther than what was available several years ago.

On the other hand, the sand wedge has not undergone any significant changes, so you’ll still likely get the same distance you’d have gotten several years ago. 

That’s understandable because sand wedges are designed for a specific play: bunker play.

These factors have combined to cause a significant gap distance between the sand wedge and the new pitching wedge.

In a quest to fill this created gap, manufacturers introduced the approach wedge. 

Perhaps, you can now see why many people refer to it as a gap wedge! It’s an invaluable club for periods when you want to hit a distance that you’ll need to adjust your swing on other wedge options to hit.

Every golfer knows how much easier it is to get the right distance at full swing.

A complete swing of the approach wedge will get you closer to the target if you are within 90 to 100 yards from the green. Of course, this typically means more accuracy and greater consistency.

An approach wedge would help an average golfer save a few putts and shave some strokes off each round.

When to Use an Approach Wedge?

When to Use an Approach Wedge

How you choose to use your approach wedge on the course is usually entirely up to you.

For some golfers, an approach wedge exists to help them achieve the distance they want by taking a full swing. 

Others see it as a knockdown club that helps avoid the high loft that a lob wedge or sand wedge will offer.

Whatever the situation, you’ll always find approach clubs very useful when you attempt to take pitch shots that need to run!

An approach wedge is also an excellent option to turn to when you want to fill a specific shot or distance at the bottom of your golf bag.

Are you still wondering how an approach wedge will help your game?

Remember how important accuracy is, especially in your quest to score well. An approach wedge helps hit a certain distance with a full swing, and you know that full swings reduce the margin for errors! 

So, instead of attempting to force a full power swing with your sand wedge, you can use a gap wedge to hit an easy-to-control 80% swing and still get just enough height for the ball to land softly.

Putting Them Together

Putting Them Together

Sand wedge, pitching wedge, approach wedge: all these are names that tend to confuse beginner golfers. 

Remember that what matters in the end is getting the right tools for your specific job and knowing how to use them!

While it’s cool to have a few wedges in your bag, we typically recommend ensuring you know them and what distance you can cover on average with each. 

You want to have a good spread of lofts, irrespective of what’s labeled on the wedge.

It’s also important to remember that carrying an additional wedge might mean sacrificing another club. You don’t want to run short of drivers, fairway woods, or hybrids because of the extra wedge you carry.