Gap Wedge vs. Approach Wedge: Is There a Difference?
When it comes to your game, it's all about keeping your swing count low. But are you doing everything in your power to make sure that happens?
Plenty of golfers think they can skip wedges and still get under par. Unfortunately, this is a misconception that will just cause you undue stress.
You've probably heard some golfers talking about approach wedges and gap wedges. Do you know how they can improve your score, though?
Let's talk about these golf clubs and clear up all the mysteries surrounding them. Become a wedge expert and start seeing results next time you bring one out!
What Distinguishes a Gap Wedge from an Approach Wedge?
This question is a long-standing debate among golfers. Everyone can agree this golf club is a subset of an iron. Its sole function is to get you on the green and overcome anything in your way.
But beyond that, there is some ongoing controversy in the details of what, if anything, separates these two clubs. Most will agree an approach wedge is simply an alternative name for gap wedge.
However, occasionally you hear golfers discuss a few key differences in terms of loft and function. Read on to find out more:
Think of this golf club as an alternative to a 9-iron. The loft is between 44 degrees and 54 degrees..
This club is ideal when you're afraid of overshooting but are still around 100 yards away from the hole depending on your stock distances. Your ball will go sky-high but still achieve a respectable distance.
This wedge shoots your ball high to clear all trees, bushes, and other obstacles in your way while creating lots of bite.
As the name suggests, this wedge is for use when you are approaching the hole. Break it out when you are around 80 yards away but haven't hit the green yet.
This style is perfect for getting you ready for the final putt with a loft between 54 degrees and 60 degrees. With such a high loft, the risk of overshooting is minimal with the exception of the deadly skull.
So what do golfers at the club say? Do they differentiate between the two? Either way, now you can join the discussion!
Why Do You Need a Gap Wedge or Approach Wedge?
Whatever you call this golf club, any reasonable golfer is smart enough to add it to their golf bag. But just how exactly can it make a difference?
The understanding of loft is essential to understanding wedges. A club's loft is the number of degrees determined by the angle between the clubface and the ground.
For example, a driving iron with 9 degrees or less loft puts distance at the forefront of its design. A wedge can go all the way up to 60 degrees for extreme height and spin over distance.
A higher loft was the golden rule in the past, with some as much as 12-16 degrees. However, golf has tended to favor lower lofts in recent years to achieve maximum distance and increased ball speed.
Chipping with a wedge can save you from sand and other tricky situations. A chip is a high but short shot. Advanced players with a high golf IQ know that a solid chip can make or break a challenging round.
While pretty much all pro golfers carry a gap wedge, it can increase the performance of even amateur golfers. So you can safely manage a shot between 90 and 100 yards when it comes to your wedge. It has the perfect balance of bounce that can get your ball airborne while still allowing your club to get right under the ball snugly.
The approach wedge may well become the only wedge you need. One with a well-balanced nature also means you save room in your bag. Why have four wedges that are all similar when you can have the best of each world in an approach wedge?
Speaking of four styles, let's learn more about what's on the market these days.
Understanding the Different Types of Wedges
All wedges are not made equal. There are many types that all come with specific advantages and uses. Don't grab the wrong wedge next time you're in a sand trap!
Learn the basics now, and then try out each club on the course!
The pitching wedge is ideal for distance — up to 125 yards(depending on your stock distances)! You can expect a loft of about 44 degrees to 49 degrees to achieve this distance. With good practice and control, you can adjust your distance to your needs.
This versatile wedge is ideal for setting up the perfect putt. Golfers who need to hit far and high always rely on a pitching wedge.
Next time you find yourself 100 yards from the course with a tree line in the way, break out your pitching wedge and clear that far away obstacle with ease.
There's no heading out to the course without a sand wedge in your bag. This specialized club is a lifesaver for the golfer stuck in those rough spots: mud, sand, soggy thick grass — you name it.
The loft on a sand wedge is between 54 degrees and 58 degrees. It features the widest sole and highest bounce you'll find on any wedge, letting you scoop the ball up and out of thick spots. The purpose of this club is not distance but height.
Some golfers will also use their sand club for chipping. However, only the best of the best can maintain control over this large and cumbersome club.
A sand wedge is also the heaviest iron most players will carry, weighing around 2.5 pounds. The shaft on this beast is tiny, only 33 inches!
A rugged sand wedge can handle anything, as long as you are strong enough to give it your all.
When you are approaching the course, it is time to use your lob wedge. The loft is extreme at anywhere between 59 degrees and 63 degrees. It will only get you about 70 yards of distance, but it lets you achieve unmatched height.
You want to break out the lob wedge when chipping or pitching around the green. The advantage of this style is that you can hit the ball in full swing. No matter how hard you hit it, the loft will prevent you from overshooting the green.
This option is perfect for beginner golfers still learning how to calculate the strength of each hit. This club teaches you how to use it with every swing. You'll understand how to get height fast and become more precise with every swing.
The high spin that comes with a lob hit also keeps the golfer in control for shorter distances.
Gap / Approach Wedge
Our old reliable, the gap or the approach is a solid iron that can fill in for any of the above clubs. It’s best to have one that makes up for the yardage between the loft and sand wedge. It will keep you close to the course without landing you in the next county. It will save you from a bunker in a pinch. It will fly over hills if you need it.
Quick recap: the loft can range between 44 degrees to 60 degrees but usually averages around 50 degrees. It’s what you want to use on your last hit before the putt. If you need a club to use after your driving iron, this style has you covered. Experienced players always use this style as their penultimate shot to victory.
Test out a few different versions of the approach or gap and find the one that feels most comfortable and, most importantly, gets you the lowest score. After some practice, this club can become a golfer's best friend!
The best way to think of a wedge is as a utility iron. Your irons get you closer and closer to the hole. Sometimes, you need a bit of technical help—that's where your wedge takes over. While the sand, lob, and pitching styles all have unique benefits, your approach will put you over the edge every time.
Find just the right club for your needs, and you will start playing those sought-after under-par rounds!
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