Sep 12, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

Sand Wedge vs. Pitching Wedge: What's the Difference?

The world of golf seems ever-expanding, meaning there are new additions and innovations within the game year-on-year. It can get a little daunting, to say the least, especially if you are new to the game or haven't been playing for particularly long. A common source of confusion among players is knowing which wedges to use, why, and what makes them unique.

If you have ever wondered about the difference between pitching wedges and sand wedges, then you are in the right place. We'll take you through their differences, including when to use them, and even tips on the other wedges you might want to include in your bag. Without further ado, let's get into it. 

When to Use a Pitching Wedge

Pitching wedges are often used by players when they are first starting in the game because they are incredibly player-friendly. They are easy to hit, providing a high launch. Thanks to their high loft, you can use them to move your golf ball if it gets stuck. Professional players often use pitching wedges on thicker roughs to get the ball moving again. 

You’ll get a similar spin with a pitching wedge that you would with other irons, just with some extra power for when you need it most. That extra boost makes it a valuable addition to your set. Think of it as an emergency get-out tool for those frustrating times you can't get the golf ball to budge from a tricky spot. 

However, there is one terrain pitch wedges aren't great at, and that's sand. Thankfully, there's a specific wedge for that. 

When to Use a Sand Wedge

A sand wedge has almost ten degrees more loft than a pitching wedge. It might not sound like much, but that's a significant difference in golf. 

A sand wedge allows players to make high shots with bounce on the bottom of the club. The bounce is what makes them so effective at escaping sand or even short grass. It allows the golf ball to cut through resistant terrain instead of remaining stranded.

Not only is a sand wedge perfect for getting your ball out of the sand, but it also won't send it hurtling in the opposite direction from where you need it to go. The shorter bounce means your golf ball will travel high but won't travel far once struck. 

With time, you will become even more accurate with your shots, making your sand wedge an invaluable part of your golfing arsenal. 

Should Beginners Use a Sand Wedge?

Absolutely. Surprisingly, you won't find sand wedges featured in beginner's golf sets very often. The reason is that they take some time to master fully, so they can feel a little daunting for a brand-new player. 

However, practice makes perfect, and the sooner you start, the sooner you will feel fully confident with your sand wedge. It will save you a lot of frustration down the line and could significantly improve your play. 

Also, it's worth mentioning that a sand wedge is a highly versatile club. Many people mistakenly believe it's only good for getting your golf ball out of sandpits. While it undoubtedly excels in that, there are other ways to put this wedge to use! Its precision and accuracy make it valuable for various shots, not just as an emergency get-out tool. 

Do I Need a Pitching Wedge and a Sand Wedge?

All golfers play slightly differently with their own set of wedges, but we consider both a pitching wedge and a sand wedge essential for your equipment. They each have their benefits unique to their specific design. When choosing which wedges to include in your bag, you need to think about the purpose each of them serves. 

The best players have a wedge for (almost) every situation. Pitching and sand wedges cover a lot of bases. It's tough to know precisely what you need until you're out on the course, in the thick of it. By arriving with everything you need already in your bag, you're prepared for just about anything, no matter how many sandpits lie in front of you!

Granted, there is always the possibility you won't need to use some of the wedges that you bring with you. All courses feature a distinct layout. Some feature bunkers with high lips that require significant loft, whereas others are smooth from start to finish. Regardless, the best players come prepared for any eventuality. It is far better to arrive with all the necessary equipment than to be stuck with a shot you can't make because you left the right wedge at home. 

How Many Wedges Should a Player Carry in Their Golf Bag?

At an absolute minimum, golfers should be carrying around two kinds of wedges in their golf bags. That said, we consider an ideal amount to be four. This lucky number should cover all bases, no matter what course you're on or what kind of shot you're trying to make. 

Your consideration should not only factor in the terrain but also the distance you're trying to cover. Certain clubs can hit far further than others. Likewise, certain clubs are more apt for controlled, precise shots within a short distance. Do whatever it takes to feel the most prepared you can. That will ensure the smoothest game and help you to perform at your best. 

We advise you to take four clubs to the course, but you can take more if it helps you feel more prepared. Different courses have different rules, so bear that in mind before heading out there. 

Generally, the maximum number of clubs you are allowed to take is fourteen, per the guidelines by the USGA. We're sure you will agree that this is more than enough, as it's ten more than we think you'll need anyway! Whatever you do, just ensure you're abiding by the rules of the course. 

What Other Kinds of Golf Wedges Should You Have?

So, we have already discussed the importance of sand and pitch wedges, but what other kinds are out there? In truth, there are many, and golf clubs have seen significant evolution over the years. Without wanting to overwhelm you and to bring you up to that ideal four-wedge setup, we have two further recommendations for your golf bag:

A Gap Wedge

The classic gap wedge provides a perfect middle ground between the sand and pitching clubs. It is designed for short distances that a pitching club would overshoot and a sand wedge couldn't make. 

The gap wedge comes in handy for players who prefer to play close to the green. The loft angle varies between 50 and 54 degrees, and the shaft is commonly made from steel for maximum durability. 

A Lob Wedge

These handy clubs allow players to hit high and stop quickly, improving accuracy with every swing. They are best for those shots that wouldn't work if the ball continued to roll once it hit the ground. 

With a simple swing, you can send the ball upward. When it returns to Earth, it will only travel a minimal amount. The loft here is never greater than 60 degrees. Any higher than that, and they become difficult to use. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Sand Wedge Need to Match the Irons Set?

Ultimately, you can play however you want to and should do whatever feels most comfortable. However, generally speaking, we advise matching your golf clubs up as closely as possible in terms of weight and style. It will get you used to handling a particular weight, improving your game overall. Frequently switching from one style to another could significantly throw you off your play. 

Can a Pitching Wedge Be Used as a Sand Wedge?

Yes, it can, but it won't be as effective in certain areas. Sand wedges deal with sandpits the most effectively, and pitching wedges do not possess the same efficiency. They are better for grass and shorter approach shots, not escaping a difficult bunker. In short, you could use a pitching wedge in the sand, but you will find it a more challenging experience. 

Should I Chip With a Pitching Wedge or a Sand Wedge?

You should chip with your pitching wedge in most instances, as they are better for shorter-distance shots. However, you can use sand wedges for chipping in certain instances, such as overcoming an immediate obstacle. Sand wedges are far better at helping you to send the ball up high, which makes them perfect for ‘hopping’ over anything in your way should you need to. In other circumstances, a pitching wedge will serve you better. 

Does a Pitching Wedge go Further Than a Sand Wedge?

Yes. A pitching wedge can cause a ball to travel around 103 yards, whereas a sand wedge will hit for 88 yards. Of course, this depends on numerous factors, including environment and player strength. Still, you can reasonably assume that a pitching wedge will always help your golf ball to travel further than a sand wedge. 

Final Thoughts

That concludes our guide to pitching wedges vs. sand wedges. There are many differences between the two, but the predominant factor is the situations that call for them and the distance or loft they allow you to achieve. Despite looking somewhat similar, golf clubs can vary enormously and serve different purposes! Don't sabotage your own game by using the wrong clubs. Sometimes, the tools are to blame, and not the artist. 

If you’re heading out for the course with a new set of pitching and sand wedges, don’t forget to protect your investment. Shop STITCH Golf today for quality golf bags, head covers, and more to look like a pro and play like one.