Wedge School

The wedge is more complex than we think

Labels: EquipmentWedges
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Is there any piece of equipment to which we pay less attention? Yet no other is asked to do so many things. The wedge. It's a great little implement, and more complex than we think.

Beware The Lie
Over the years, club manufacturers have been building ever more upright clubs, a design tweak that, all else being equal, is designed to lessen slices. CordeValle teaching professional Jon Horner estimates that today's standard lie is equivalent to a two-degree-upright club of 30 years ago. That's all fine and well for recreational players trying to find the fairway. But Horner says it's "the worst thing possible for wedge play."

Wedges often are (should be) used for less-than-full shots, pitches and chips; swings that are less dynamic with hands typically dropped into a lower position. This effectively makes the wedge more upright. The tell-tale sign of a too-upright wedge is the leftward divot (for a righty) and a pulled shot. For best results, wedges should be flattened a degree or two from the configuration of your irons; some advise making some lie-angle adjustment to the 9-iron, as well.

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Don't Be Put Off By Offset
"It is counterintuitive," says Cleveland Golf's Scott Carlyle. "But there are better players, often better senior players, who like to see more offset in their wedges."

Long irons have more offset than short irons, players' clubs have less than game-improvement clubs. Offset helps a club close at impact, which typically isn't a problem, even for lesser-caliber players, with shorter clubs. That's why many wedges have no offset or even face progression, which is a wisp of the leading edge protruding in front of the hosel; who wants to pull a wedge, after all?

"It's just something they are comfortable with," adds Carlyle, mostly of players from a time when they weren't afraid to tinker with their own clubs and before today's ubiquitous lob wedges appeared. "It looks a bit like a gooseneck," he concludes. "It subconsciously makes players move the ball back."

The effect is achieved by taking a degree or two of loft out of a wedge on a bending bar, which coincidentally reduces the bounce, adding up to a perfect combo for those who like to hit down and through the ball for lower, higher-spinning pitches.

And it's not just for the old guys.

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