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Friday, January 11, 2019

How Many Wedges Do You Need?

I admit that I love to find advice that goes against the grain. While there are good reasons that some advice becomes THE advice you should follow, there are times when the correct advice for a player isn't what you typically hear. You need to know all your options so you can choose what is best for YOU.

The four most common wedges

As I was digging through some old golf magazines, I found an article in the April 2013 issue of Golf Digest by instructor Randy Smith. It looked at some of the most common advice given to weekend golfers that was based on what the pros do, weighing just how much it really helped you if you weren't a pro.

One of those pieces of advice was "you need to carry three wedges to have a good short game."

Smith said NO. Here's why:

From 100 yards and in, you can hit pretty much any shot you need with only a pitching wedge and a 56° sand wedge. Smith recommended replacing your third wedge -- gap or lob wedge, whichever you carry -- with another hybrid that fits between your mid-irons and fairway woods. (Personally, I've found that a 13 wood, sometimes called a trouble wood, is a very useful club from the rough. The head shape slips through the grass more easily.) That gives you another long-range weapon that can help you eliminate some shots from your score.

The logic of this makes sense if you just think about it. Many (if not most) weekend players don't hit the ball a long way, so they need more clubs that travel a greater distance. Getting within 100 yards of the green is a bigger challenge for them than hitting the green from within 100 yards. They would cut more shots from their score by getting closer to the green from 150-180 yards because they have more of those shots to begin with.

And while most pros use three wedges, there are a number who use one wedge for almost all their short game shots -- Phil Mickelson is one who immediately comes to mind. And using two wedges -- one for short-sided shots where you need to hit the ball high and stop it quick, with a second wedge for the normal approach shots where you can use a little run -- can be a very simple thing to learn.

Let's be honest here. Most of us don't practice enough to hit shots as accurately as the pros do. Just being able to put the ball in the middle of the green would improve most of our scores!

So that's an equipment issue that you should consider as you prepare for the 2019 golf season. Set up your clubs to help improve your game, not to copy the pros.

The photo came from this page at


  1. Hi Mike,
    Certainly good advice for the average golfer. I do normally play just a pitching wedge and my sand wedge from my Ping club set. I do fool around with different sand wedges however as the public courses I play have a wide range of sand conditions. Anything from packed almost hard pan to very soft and fluffy country club like bunkers. Having several sand wedges to choose from in the trunk is helpful from time to time.

    Unfortunately this year, we had so much rain here is western PA, all the bunkers were packed hard pan all summer. They never got a chance to dry out do the ground crews could get them in shape. I wound up putting a gap wedge in my bag and using that to just chip out of most bunkers. Hopefully that won't be a necessity this coming summer.


    1. I suspect quite a few golfers carry wedges they don't actually use during a round. And that's probably the best measure of whether a player needs them or not -- if they stay in your bag OR you don't use them effectively, it's probably a good idea to try a club setup without them and substitute another club that you might use more often, see if it helps your scores.

      I think you're smart to change your setup based on course conditions. That's something we all CAN copy from the pros.