Hitting your ball into the bunker sucks… Almost as bad as trying to hit it out! A proper sand wedge, for bunker shots, might change your outlook on this.
Ironically, I’ve read that since you don’t even have to hit the ball when playing out of the bunker, it’s technically the easiest shot. I completely disagree.
Now the pros can sometimes use the bunkers to their advantage. Albeit rarely, it can sometimes be easier to chip up and down from a bunker vs the surrounding deep grass. That being said, this post is for beginners or those that aren’t’ on the tour.
In this post, I want to discuss wedges and more specifically sand wedges. I’ll share what to look for when shopping for a sand wedge and make some recommendations on the best sand wedges available.
Types of Wedges
This post is primarily about sand wedges, but I do want to briefly discuss the other wedges too. Of the 14 clubs allowed in the bag, it’s common to have several wedges, because they are so critical to keeping your score down. The biggest difference between the wedges is the loft. The loft will really determine the distance the wedge is designed to be used from.
The pitching wedge loft is around 46-50 degrees. They usually have a short amount of bounce (around 2-5) and are generally used for approach shots when you’re 90-110 yards out.
Back in the day, there was primarily the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. Unfortunately, this left a “gap” between the two clubs lofts. The gap wedge usually has a loft between 50-54 degrees. If you’re hitting your pitching wedge around 110 and your sand wedge around 80 yards (on a clean hit), this leaves a gap.
The lob wedge has the highest loft of all the wedges (58+) and is used when the player needs to get the ball in the air quickly, without sailing over the green. For me, when I’m behind a tree and need to land on the green without rolling over, the lob wedge gets some playing time. Also, if I’ve managed to land in some deep rough, the lob wedge can help get under the ball and back into the fairway.
The sand wedge usually has a bounce of 10+ and can be used out of the sand, but not exclusively the sand. They usually have a loft of 54-58 and are primarily used from about 80 yards out.
Features of Sand Wedge for Beginners
Sand Wedge Forgiveness
It probably goes without saying, but a sand wedge with some forgiveness is best for high handicappers and beginners. Forgiveness usually entails a cavity in the back and usually some weight adjustments.
Sand Wedge Bounce
The bounce can really determine if you get the ball up and out, or if it will roll back to your feet. The bounce on the bottom of your sand wedge is what hits the sand first. And this is a good thing.
The purpose of the bounce is to prevent the club from digging deep into the sand. The bounce will provide a sliding motion that will slow down the club, but not stop it. Not every sand wedge has the same amount of bounce.
The higher the bounce or wider the sole on your sand wedge, the less the wedge digs into the sand. If you’re playing in a bunker that is firm, then a little less bounce is needed. If you’re playing in beach sand, the higher bounce will prevent you from digging a hole to China.
Sand wedge shafts usually come made with either graphite or steel shafts. If you need to use a full swing when hitting out of the bunker, a graphite shaft lighter weight and forgiveness is beneficial.
When possible I try to include a couple of different vendors so you can get the best deal available!
Best Sand Wedge for High Handicapper
1) Cleveland Golf Men’s Smart Sole 3 Sand Wedge – This Cleveland wedge is designed to help average players and beginners enjoy more success around the greens. It features feel-balancing technology, which moves weight away from the hosel and more toward the center of the clubface, with the result being improved feel and better shot dispersion. Available in both steel or graphite shaft. Check it out.
2) Pinemeadow Sand Wedge – if affordability is important to you, then Pinemeadow is a solid brand at a reasonable price. Built with a large face and quality craftsmanship, this simple sand wedge can be perfect for beginners or those learning the game. The lightweight and large sweet spot, make it great for high handicappers. Available in several different lofts.
3) Wilson Harmonized Golf Sand Wedge – Wilson doesn’t come to mind when thinking golf clubs, but they put out some quality clubs at an affordable price. Their wedge line is sleek, has a high 12 degrees of bounce , and is capable of getting under the ball and can stop on a dime. Current customers are loving the spin and say they have plenty of spin.
4) Cleveland Golf 2018 Men’s CBX Wedge – Cleveland has made the list again, but for good reason. They’re a premier club maker. The CBX has a lot of the same features of the Sole 3. The cavity back providing some forgiveness, but a full face of grooves. The CBX really allows you to open up the face and make some great flop shots. Even if you have a mis-hit the CBX can cover for you. The cavity back and the full face groove design makes this one of the best sand wedges for beginners.
5) Callaway Golf Mack Daddy 5 JAWS Wedge – if you prefer the Callaway line, their JAWS wedges are a premier wedge. It comes with all the bells and whistles. Featuring aggressive grooves to take spin and control to the next level. The S-Grind is made to be played on a variety of courses and conditions making the JAWS wedge able to fit nicely into your set of 14. Current users are saying, “don’t lend it to your buddies, you’ll never get it back.” Check it out.
Tips on Sand Wedge Shots
After you’ve let the curse words fly, and you’ve accepted that fact that you’re going to be playing out of the sand, it’s time to focus on how to get out. If you’ve played the sand, you’ll know as soon as you step into it, if it’s pretty hard or not. Some traps are pretty compact while others are more of a beach sand. Either way there are tips and tricks for getting up and down out of the sand with out racking up some more swings.
- Open your stance by placing your leading foot back until you start to feel a little ridiculous.
- If you’re in deep, rotate the club clockwise so the clubface is almost pointing straight up. This will pop the ball up.
- Position the ball forward in your stance.
- Aim about 2-3 inches behind the ball and swing about 80 percent of a full swing.
- You’ll want to really keep and shift your weight to the front foot as you swing.
With a bit of practice, getting out of the sand becomes pretty tolerable.
Conclusion of Best Sand Wedge for Beginners
Covering a few hundred yards on a couple of shots is nice, but if you’re adding 4-5 more strokes in the last 150 yards, your score is going to climb. Working on your 150 yards or less game will help tremendously. Getting out of the bunker and close to the pin so you can keep it to a two-putt, can help too. Hopefully, one of the aforementioned sand wedges can do this for you.
If having a consistent swing depth is an issue, check out the post on the best golf swing trainer for beginners.
FAQ on Sand Wedges
What is the easiest sand wedge to hit?
For beginners, the easiest sand wedge will be a cavity back sand wedge with 54-58 degrees of loft and around 10-14 degrees of bounce.
What wedge is best for hitting out of sand?
If the bunker is beach-soft sand you will want something with a high bounce to prevent from digging in. If the bunker is firm, a lower bounce is acceptable. Cleveland has a wide arrange of wedges suitable for all types of bunkers.
Should I carry more than a sand wedge and pitching wedge?
You can carry 14 clubs in your bag and it’s not uncommon to make 3-4 of those clubs wedges. A gap or lob wedge can come in handy when you’re within 100 yards of the green and you have hazards to deal with.
What is bounce when talking wedges?
The bounce is the bottom of the club that will either help the club dig under or prevent the club from digging too far under. The firmness of the sand determines the level of bounce you want.