The world of wedges can be confusing to many golfers, especially when they are just starting. We often hear people ask about sand wedges and whether they actually need them. Are you confused about how to use sand wedges? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The first step to understanding a sand wedge and how it works in golf is knowing its loft degree and its effect on your game. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you by explaining the loft degree of a sand wedge in this article.
So, what degree loft is a sand wedge? The standard lofts for a sand wedge can range between 54 and 58 degrees. This degree range means that the sand wedge is more lofted than gap wedges and pitching wedges, so golfers can expect their shots to fly quite as far in the air when using a sand wedge.
Now that we’re clear on the degree of the loft of a sand wedge, let’s review what a sand wedge really is and how its angle can affect your all-around play. Review this article on the best sand wedges if you’re in the market.
What is a Sand Wedge?
Otherwise known as a sand iron, a sand wedge is a golf club designed to get out of sand bunkers. Compared to most other types of wedges, the sand wedge has the widest sole. It’s this sole that provides it the bounce that allows the clubhead to glide through the sand instead of digging in.
The sand wedge became popular in 1932 after Gene Sarazen had success with the newly designed club for sand play. Apart from sandy play, many golfers have adopted the club for playing in other soft lies like soggy grounds, thick roughs, and muddy ground.
The Design of a Sand Wedge
The reinvention of sand wedges mean that it has become the heaviest iron in a player’s bag. Most modern sand wedges would weigh around 40 ounces.
Traditionally, it had the highest loft at 55-58 degrees. However, with the invention of the lob wedge, that has changed. Of course, lob wedges have their loft degree at 60 and above. Sand wedges are usually designed to feature a very short shaft, usually between 84 cm and 91 cm. This shaft size is the shortest in the back. Only in a few rare situations would you find some pitching wedges shorter.
One of the most significant differences between this club and most others is the bounce. The design of most other irons features a sole perpendicular to the shaft, which makes their sole roughly parallel to the ground when a player is not taking a swing. This angle allows the lead edge to get between the ball and the ground more easily. On the other hand, the sand wedge features a design that positions the club’s sole at an angle to the ground when placed in the same position described above.
This design accomplishes three things:
- The design typically requires more material, and this can increase the weight of the club’s head. And more weight brings more momentum, and since the weight is focused on the low and forward end of the club, you can expect higher launches.
- The angled sole that this design produces helps lift the leading edge off the ground at the bottom of the swing, thus keeping the club from digging into soft lies like mud, sand, and thick grasses. Instead, the club would skim over the lies’ surface, allowing you more flexibility to address the ball better. Depending on how you play, this position can also offer you alternatives between lining the ball up in the center of your stance and moving the ball rearward in your stance. If you execute your shot correctly, your clubface would have less loft at contact, and your call will launch at a lower angle, creating more distance.
- If you play from a bunker, you may notice your ball buried deeply into the sand. Lifting it out requires that your clubhead contacts the ball from underneath, which can seem like an impossible task because your club’s leading edge must go a few inches under the sand’s surface to achieve this. However, a bounce allows the angle of your club’s sole to counteract the downward pressure of your clubface, thus digging itself more into the sand and creating the possibility to swing the club under the sand’s surface.
When Should You NOT Use a Sand Wedge?
Now that we’ve talked so much about sand wedge and its loft degree, you’re probably wondering whether it works for everything. Actually, it works for so many plays, but there are still some situations when you can’t use it.
Just because you’re in the sand doesn’t necessarily mean you should use a sand wedge. There are times when it won’t be the best option.
As we’ve explained above, the sand wedge is designed to feature a lot of bounce. While this makes it an excellent option for soft sand and long grass, it can be a significant disadvantage for moments when you need to play on hard ground and compacted sand. With this kind of bounce, you may strike the ball near the middle, forcing a mistake on your shot.
In situations like this, many pros will prefer to play a pitching wedge or even a 9 iron to avoid the bounce and perfect their shots. We usually advise golfers to try to feel the situation before making their club selection.
Recap: Sand Wedge Loft
Whether you’re a pro golfer or just an enthusiast who’s starting your journey, a knowledge of loft angles can help you perfect your shots early. Sand wedges are among the most popular wedges, so you’ll probably come across them more often than other wedges. Bear in mind that a sand wedge has a loft degree of between 55-58 and would work better for moments when you’ll need to play on sandy ground.
When determining the right wedge for your shots, you’ll need to figure out what lofts and bounce settings best suit your particular swing. In this article, we’ve also reviewed the bounce of a sand wedge, what it stands for, and how it’ll affect your game. A good option for getting an excellent bounce and loft combination in your wedge is custom fitting. Click here to read our article on custom fitting for golf clubs.