Wedge Fitting – Clubs with 44° of Loft and Above

One golf club category that club fitters (as well as golfers in general) should focus on the wedges as a high percentage of all shots will occur with these clubs. Whether it is for full approach shots from the fairway or short little finesse shots from the greenside rough or bunker, the wedges will be instrumental in one’s scoring abilities. As we noted in the Iron Fitting chapter, iron sets contain anywhere from one matching wedge to possibly as many as four, while some players may disregard those completely and go to a non-matching wedge set that will complement their game. Therefore in this chapter we are going to concentrate on those clubs with 44° of loft and above.

Beginning the Process of Wedge Fitting

Where and how will you be conducting the fitting?

One important consideration is where would you conduct your golf wedge fitting? Every shop is different. Some shops will operate in a retail environment where the customer is only able to hit the ball into a net with the aid of a launch monitor, swing analyzer or simulator. Conversely the fitting may be conducted outdoors at a range on a mat, grass or in a bunker with or without the assistance of computerized equipment. Lastly, the fitting could be all done over the phone or internet as an on-line transaction or surprise gift for someone. In all these situations, how the fitting is accomplished will vary.

Personal Interview and Specification Check

You would want to conduct the personal interview if you were fitting for the wedges separately and you had not already completed this step when fitting any of the other categories previously. For a review of the personal interview process and a list of possible questions, please refer to Chapter 3. Except for golfers brand new to the game, I would strongly suggest the customer have their current wedges so you can inspect wear patterns on the clubs and gather as much information by measuring their specifications.

If the player comes to you with a right handed club, that will obviously mean they will need right handed models. But for a golfer brand new to the game, you may need to ask or evaluate them for handiness by having them hit a few golf balls. Again, the main reason for asking handiness first is if they are left-handed, there will be fewer options to choose from.

How Wedges are Fitted Today

Unless you are a professional golfer on the circuit and have the luxury of the touring vans or custom departments at the major OEMs at your disposal, wedge fitting is often ignored. Even brand name fitting carts are devoid of any golf wedges and the shaft you see installed on many commercially available wedges is listed simply as the “Wedge” shaft. The player will usually fill out their set by picking the matching wedges that came with his or her set or choosing a finish or style that is popular on tour, with little regards to whether it fits his or her style of play.

Determine Set Make Up

Years ago golf club wedge fitting was so much easier. You had a pitching wedge (PW) and a sand wedge (SW) that came with your set. The PW was normally between 49-51 degrees and the SW ranged from 55-57 degrees. Over the years marketing departments at major manufacturers wanted to tout their irons are being the longest so the lofts of irons became stronger (lower) to the point an average #9-iron is now between 39-42 degrees.

The PW lofted followed suit and became stronger too. In Japan, the lofts have become so strong that in certain iron sets that #10 and even #11 irons were created. In all this chaos, the only lofted club in the bag that did not increase in loft was the SW as it had to be able to escape the raised lip of a bunker. Let us face it, the PW of today is the 9-iron of old, and that is why it almost should be considered an iron rather than a wedge.

However, this situation created such a large “gap” between the PW and SW that it created a need for an additional club commonly called a Gap Wedge (GW), or what would have been the traditional PW. Gap wedges are also known or listed as AW (Approach), DW (Dual) and UW (Utility) wedges.

  Iron & Wedge Lofts
Club 1970-97 1997-2017 2017+
3 iron 22° 20° 17°
4 iron 25° 23° 20°
5 iron 28° 26° 23°
6 iron 32° 29° 26°
7 iron 36° 33° 30°
8 iron 40° 37° 34.5°
9 iron 44° 41° 39°
PW 49° 45° 44°
GW N/A 50° 49°
SW 55° 55° 54°
LW 60° 60° 59°

The lob wedges came to fruition during the 1980s as a means for better players to attack tight pin locations, especially on elevated, multi-tiered and undulating greens. Tom Kite was one of the first to put one into use. With his success at the time, it led other professionals to follow suit, which has now trickled down to the average player. This leads us to the following categories and their range of lofts.

Pitching wedge (44-49 degrees) 
Gap wedge (49-54 degrees) 
Sand wedge (54-58 degrees) 
Lob wedge (58-higher degrees)

The big question is how many wedges does a player truly need? It could be anywhere from a minimum of two to as many as 5, with three being the most common. Oftentimes, the selection process comes down to how many clubs are left out of the maximum 14 allowable by the Rules of Golf after the driver, putter, fairway woods, hybrids and irons are selected. However the fitter should work backwards and select the driver, putter and then the wedges to complement the lofts of the irons before considering which and how many fairway woods and any hybrid(s) the customer might need because the wedges will be more frequently used.

Fitting for Wedge Loft

Before we consider what type of material and style the customer prefers, we should look at the loft first as this is the most universally accepted method of selecting a model. In addition, not every style head will be available in certain lofts, especially in left hand. While many golf club wedges can be bent or altered for loft, we will see if that will potentially create a negative situation a little later when we discuss bounce.

One of the first rules of wedge fitting is not have less than 4° separation between lofts and possibly no more than 6 or 7°. For example, the most popular specialty wedge series lofts sold are 52, 56 and 60 degree to match with a person’s existing PW. 

diagram of golf ball trajectories approaching a green from different distances and loftsdiagram of golf ball trajectories approaching a green from different distances and lofts

Before we choose what we need, we first need to look at (or measure) the loft of the customer’s 9-iron. If it is 42°, like in a player’s irons or sets perhaps marketed for women, we have several options as in the following chart.

Club Loft Loft Loft
9 iron 42° 42° 42°
PW 49° 47° 46°
GW   53° 50°
SW 56° 58° 54°
LW     58°


Somewhere we need to bridge the gap between the 9-iron to the sand wedge, so we cover all the distances and yet maintain some sort of incremental gaps. The simplest would be the 2-wedge set that is spaced 7 degrees apart (49° PW and 56° SW). If we wanted less distance gaps, we could space the wedges out in 5° lofts (47° PW, 53° GW and 58° SW). Lastly, we can use the minimum 4° spacing and end up with the 46° PW, 50° GW, 54° SW and an optional 58° LW.

If the 9-iron was stronger lofted (39°), here is how you might consider gapping the wedges. Again, the simplest would be the 2-wedge set but that would require us to space them 8 degrees apart (47° PW and 55° SW) and possibly create too much of a gap for most golfers to be able to dial in the correct distances. The exception would be for perhaps beginners using a partial set to get started out or for very slow swinging players who do not have as much of a distance gap between clubs and where this would make sense.

Club Loft Loft Loft Loft
9 iron 39° 39° 39° 39°
PW 47° 45° 44° 44° / 48°
GW   52° 49° 52°
SW 55° 58° 54° 56°
LW   64° 59° 60°

However, if a golfer is looking for the full complement of 14 clubs allowable, then the player can opt for 3 or possibly 4 wedges (including 64° utility lob wedge) with @ 6° loft gapping. A more common way for golfers to stagger the lofts is with 5° gaps as in the 44, 49, 54 and an optional 59 (or 60) degree set up.

Our last scenario using 4° gaps would be uncommon where the player might have two PWs or one possibly labeled as a #10-iron (or AW). This also shows a 4 wedge set up (44, 48, 52 and 56°) with an option for a 5th (60°) and even 6th (64°) wedge. What we are trying to illustrate is a way to have the nice separation in distance without gaps from their 9-iron to the SW and still cover the majority of shots they will encounter on the course.

High-lofted Wedges

We mentioned a 64° wedge, which is part of the lob wedges (58° and above). Most consumers are familiar with 60° wedges, but they may not be aware of wedges as high lofted as 68-70 degrees. If you are wondering what the purposes of high-lofted golf wedges are, they are for full swings from a short distance away in lieu of a less lofted wedge, opening the face wide open and swinging away – essentially creating the higher loft by manipulating face angle. One word of caution, the average golfer is not going to be disciplined enough to hit these types of wedges hard enough to get them to the target or strike them correctly so that they end up blading the ball across the green or OB. These clubs take practice to be able master, let alone hit them well and understand what kind of distance range they can hit the ball from. When used properly, these high-lofted wedges can land the ball in areas only some of the most skilled players can with a combination of open face and lower loft such as executing the flop shot.


In the 1930s, Gene Sarazen developed a clubhead specifically designed to hit out of a sand bunker, which was a major problem for golfers at the time. The idea came about by flying with billionaire Howard Hughes and noticing the curved wings on the plane. As legend would have it, Sarazen went to his workshop where he welded material onto a niblick (@ same loft as a modern day pitching wedge) along the bottom and the rear portion of the sole. This created a club where the leading edge of the face was higher off the ground than the trailing edge and prevented the head from digging into the sand. He had in effect created the “bounce sole.” Sarazen went on to win the 1932 (British) Open using his invention and soon afterwards the sand wedge became a staple in the bags of golfers everywhere to this day.

There is a long discussion of bounce by reviewing the Clubhead in Geometry in Pictures (Irons and Wedges) chapter. Most golfers associate bounce angle strictly with all the wedges and not just the sand wedge anymore. In fact during the past 20 years, added bounce has been a welcome feature in irons too. As the bounce discussion in chapter 7 is already very thorough, we want to augment it by seeing how altering the loft affects the bounce angles.

Anytime we strengthen or reduce loft, we reduce the bounce at the same time too. This is a direct 1:1 relationship. For example, let us say we have a SW with 56° loft and 12° bounce and we want to bend it 2° stronger. The result will be a 54° loft and 10° bounce. Or we can have a 52° GW with 8° of bounce that needs to be adjusted 2° weaker. In this case, we add both loft and bounce until we have a 54° wedge with 10° bounce, which is exactly the same specifications as the example before.  

As a fitter, you have many options at hand. You could conceivably start out with two 50° and two 58° lofts to create a 4 wedge set with nice even four degree gaps as follows. However, there are two things to consider in this exercise. First, know the limitation of bending for loft. In most cases with a cast club, 2° is all that can be done safely without snapping the hosel. With a forged club that is more malleable, you might be able to adjust the loft more, but then you start to altering the appearance of the club by either further reducing the offset (by reducing loft) or adding additional offset to the wedge (by increasing loft).


Club Loft Bounce Alteration Loft Bounce
PW 50° 10° 2° strong 48°
GW 50° 10° 2° weak 52° 12°
SW 58° 12° 2° strong 56° 10°
LW 58° 12° 2° weak 60° 14°


Another important consideration is that the loft on a wedge is prominently engraved somewhere on the head. It would be very confusing to the end consumer as to what wedge is what unless you were to paint fill or stamp the heads so the golfer will remember which loft is what.

One last problem is the bounce measurements. Normally, your sand wedge will have the most bounce of any of the wedges in the bag, so it may not be in the best interest of the player to create a set this way unless you want to custom grind the sole and try to create the proper amount of bounce. Trust me; this procedure should only be attempted by experienced clubmakers.

There are three areas on the sole that are generally ground down to reduce bounce or effective bounce. Yes that means taking material from the sole! Guess what, that will remove some head weight and also require the clubhead to be refinished or re-plated; the reason few clubmakers even tackle this subject.

For the record, those three areas are shown in the dark shaded portions of the sole. The top one labeled A is simply uniformly removing the radii off the center portion of the sole. This may not necessarily reduce the actual bounce measurement, but it will lower the leading and trailing edges and make it easier to hit off firmer terrain.

Illustration B shows removal of material along the trailing edge of the wedge. This reduces the bounce and lowers the leading edge as well as narrows the sole width. Illustration C is a heel grind. While it does not directly reduce bounce, it will help lower the leading edge when the player flattens the lie and opens the face. It is possible to combine two or all three of these sole grinds to create the desired bounce that fits the player under the right course conditions.

diagram of 3 areas of the sole to grind material to remove bounce on a golf wedgediagram of 3 areas of the sole to grind material to remove bounce on a golf wedge

Low, Mid, and High Bounce Wedges

There are basically two types of golfer; ones with a steep angle of attack (sometimes referred to as a digger) and those with a shallow angle of attack (sweeper or slider-type swing). The quickest way to tell is to look at the divots (if any) the player makes with their wedges. By incorrectly matching the effective bounce of the wedge to the player could hinder his or her performance on the course.

The easiest type to spot is the digger. You will see deep divots after the impact with the ball. This occurs when the player positions the ball back in their stance or has a forward hand press or lean. The ball will normally come off at a lower launch angle, but with an increased amount of spin.

The sweeper is the player that just brushes the grass or takes very little sod where you really cannot replace what little divot was made. This player positions the ball more forward in the stance with a neutral shaft position. Upon impact the head may be leading the hands due to cupping of the wrists or an early release resulting into an increased launch angle, but with a reduced amount of spin.

diagram of two wedges, first, hitting a ball with a descending angle of attack, second, a sweeper with level swingdiagram of two wedges, first, hitting a ball with a descending angle of attack, second, a sweeper with level swing

When fitting for wedge bounce, we are concerned about three situations. One is the bounce with the club in the neutral position with the center of the sole touching the ground as the manufacturers would measure using a specification gauge. This is needed for reference first and ordering second. But equally important is how the player comes in contact with the ball. The third is turf conditions.

For instance, the club on the right in the following diagram is very close to how the manufacturer measures the club in a specs gauge with the face square, shaft neutral and assuming the lie is correct. With the ball nestled down in the grass due to gravity you can see how low on the face impact is made with the sweeper-type swing, almost to the point of blading or hitting the ball with the leading edge of the face on the hardpan lie. With the ball nestled in the grass at the same level, you can see by hitting down and taking a divot how impact is made higher up the face and closer to where the center of gravity of the head would be. Obviously, the impact on the left by the digger-type swing will be more solid.

diagram of two wedges, left, descending angle of attack which hits higher up on the face as the sweeper (right)diagram of two wedges, left, descending angle of attack which hits higher up on the face as the sweeper (right)

To complement the sweeper-type swing requires an initial lower effective bounce angle to position the leading edge lower to the ground. Below is a quick guide to factors and how they affect leading edge height:

Less radius (think of a larger circle)           =             the lower the leading edge will be off the ground

Narrower sole with the same radius         =             the lower the leading edge will be off the ground

Lesser degree of bounce                               =             the lower the leading edge will be off the ground

Player increases angle of attack                 =             the lower the leading edge will be off the ground


In the advent we need to increase bounce angle, we would need just the opposite.

More radius (think of a smaller circle)      =             the higher the leading edge will be off the ground

Wider sole with the same radius                =             the higher the leading edge will be off the ground

Greater degree of bounce                            =             the higher the leading edge will be off the ground

Player decreases angle of attack                =             the higher the leading edge will be off the ground


To better illustrate the effect of sole width and radius on the bounce angle, examine the following chart. The chart represents two different width soles (0.781” and 1.25”) and three different sole radii (flat, 3” and 1.5”). Note: the leading edge has not been ground off in these cases leaving a sharp distinctive point of reference. In addition, these are not necessarily recommendations or fitting examples, rather more for the purpose of explaining their relationships. 

The most common sand wedge bounce is 12° on a medium width sole (0.781”). Looking at the Leading Edge Height from the Ground Line chart, we can see that the distance to the leading edge would be 0.163.”  The same leading edge height occurs with the flat sole and the one with the 1.5” radius.

Leading Edge Height from the Ground Line

Sole Radius Flat 3" 1.5" Flat 3" 1.5"
Sole Width 0.781" 0.781" 0.781" 1.25" 1.25" 1.25"
Bounce inches inches inches inches inches inches
0.000 0.026 0.052 0.000 0.066 0.136
0.014 0.033 0.059 0.022 0.077 0.147
0.027 0.041 0.066 0.044 0.089 0.159
0.041 0.050 0.074 0.065 0.102 0.171
0.055 0.060 0.083 0.087 0.116 0.183
0.068 0.071 0.091 0.109 0.131 0.196
0.082 0.083 0.101 0.131 0.147 0.209
0.095 0.096 0.110 0.153 0.164 0.222
0.109 0.109 0.120 0.175 0.181 0.236
0.123 0.123 0.131 0.196 0.199 0.251
10° 0.136 0.136 0.142 0.218 0.219 0.265
11° 0.150 0.149 0.153 0.240 0.239 0.280
12°  0.164 0.163 0.165 0.262 0.260 0.296
13° 0.177 0.176 0.177 0.284 0.281 0.311
14° 0.191 0.189 0.189 0.305 0.302 0.328
15° 0.204 0.203 0.202 0.327 0.324 0.344
16° 0.218 0.216 0.215 0.349 0.345 0.361


Remember we said before that the club may not end up in the exact same position? Let us say a golfer was to use each of the clubs and had a 5° angle of attack. When the club returns to impact, the golfer has lowered the leading edge. The underlined values in the 7° bounce row (12° bounce minus the 5° angle of attack) show the new leading edge height. The head with the greatest radius has the leading edge height higher than the other two heads with the same sole width (0.096” vs. 0.110”).

You might have noticed that most wide sole cavity back wedges do not have the same amount of bounce as a narrower blade-style model. To have the same effective bounce, less measured bounce is required and here is the reason why. Let us say we have a 1.25” wide sole wedge with a 3” radius and 8° bounce. This will effectively make the leading edge 0.181” above the ground. The same golfer with the 5° angle of attack will now return the club at impact with a leading edge height of 0.102” or the equivalent of the narrower sole clubs with greater bounce.

diagram of two wedges being hit with a level angle of attack, one has a sole radius of 1.5" / 4° bounce, the other 3" sole radius / 8° bouncediagram of two wedges being hit with a level angle of attack, one has a sole radius of 1.5" / 4° bounce, the other 3" sole radius / 8° bounce

In an extreme example of where there is a very wide sole (1.25”) and has a high sole radius (1.5”) the manufacturer may select a bounce for the sand wedge may appear low on paper, for example 4°. This still leaves the leading edge height 0.183” above the ground. Even if the golfer returned the club with a 5° angle of attack, then effectively it has a negative 1° bounce. But due to the high radius sole, the leading edge will still be approximately 0.125” above the ground. If the sole were flat, the leading edge would dig into the ground, hence the digger sole.

diagram of two wedges being hit with a 5° angle of attack, one has a sole radius of 1.5" / 4° bounce, the other 3" sole radius / 8° bouncediagram of two wedges being hit with a 5° angle of attack, one has a sole radius of 1.5" / 4° bounce, the other 3" sole radius / 8° bounce

I see where manufacturers might label their wedges as low, standard (medium) or high bounce. For example, the low bounce 56° wedge option is 10°, standard model is 14° and high bounce is 16°. However, these are always with the exact same sole width and sole radius from front-to-back. Hopefully, we have explained how you cannot state that a wedge with 10° bounce is automatically low, medium, or high as it has not factored in the sole width, sole radius and the player’s angle of attack that ultimately controls how high the leading edge is upon impact.

How to Measuring Bounce Angle

Several years ago I had a nice long conversation with a professional club fitter looking for a simple way to accurately measure bounce. While this might have sounded like an easy answer, it was not. You really need to have pictures there in front of you to explain it better, after all a picture is worth a thousand words.

To measure bounce, we first need to measure the loft of the club with the shaft perpendicular to the ground line. This is performed in a specification gauge or even in a good quality lie/loft machine. If you look at the diagram to the right, this is the same view as how you would measure the loft, but upside down. We will show you why in a second.

If there is bounce on an iron or wedge, then the contact point of the sole will not occur in the center of the sole. If there is positive bounce, the contact point with the ground or surface will be toward the trailing edge of the club and negative bounce the contact point of the sole will be nearer the leading edge.

diagram of measuring the bounce of a golf wedge and show where contact point and center of sole are locateddiagram of measuring the bounce of a golf wedge and show where contact point and center of sole are located

To measure the bounce we first want to mark the center of the sole. Start by measuring the width in the center of the sole with your calipers or a quality machinist ruler. With a Sharpie pen, place a small mark on the center of the sole. Double check that you mark is indeed located in the center. If not rub off the mark and try again.

diagram of marking the center of the sole with a Sharpie pengdiagram of marking the center of the sole with a Sharpie peng

There are commercially available bounce gauges that can run in the couple of hundred dollar range. While extremely accurate, most club fitting shops will not have invested into one. So what is the simple solution? I had a machinist protractor that I picked up at my local hardware store years before. I am sure I did not spend more than $20 on it, but it has come in handy many times. One use is for measuring the bounce angles on golf clubs.

measuring loft of a golf wedge with a machinist protractormeasuring loft of a golf wedge with a machinist protractor

Place the base of the protractor against the flat face of the wedge (or even an iron). Loosen the wing nut or thumb screw so the arm is free to move. Adjust the club in the protractor so the face is good and tight against the base of the protractor and the arm of the protractor is just making contact with the mark you made on the center of the sole.  It might take a little practice to make sure that it is just touching that mark and not to one side or another as it will throw off your reading.

Next, measure the angle. Chances are the protractor will measure the supplement angle so you will need to subtract the reading from 90 degrees. For example, if the protractor read 46 degrees, then the actual loft in this position 90 – 46 = 44 degrees.

To obtain the bounce measurement, we simply take the loft reading (either from our specification gauge or lie/loft machine) and subtract the loft we obtained in the machinist protractor at the center of the sole. If the loft was originally 56 degrees, this means the bounce of our club is 12 degrees (56 – 44 degrees). See, there is always a simple and often inexpensive solution to everything. The only time it does not work is in the case where you might have a wedge with a concave sole, which are far and few between.

diagram of positioning a golf wedge so the center of the sole is tangent to a horizontal linediagram of positioning a golf wedge so the center of the sole is tangent to a horizontal line

Fitting Wedges for Turf Conditions

The softer the sand or thicker the grass, regardless if the player is a sweeper or a digger, will require more bounce than in conditions were it is firm like hardpan lies in the fairway or hard packed sand where your feet hardly make an impression while standing in the bunker. Simply the higher degree of bounce prevents the club from being buried. This is why the sand wedge often has the highest bounce of all the wedges. Pitching, gap, and lob wedges are more designed for fairways and light rough as the lower bounce and subsequent lower leading edge will be easier to get below the ball. A SW with all the additional bounce makes it easy to blade the ball in those conditions without moving the ball back in the stance and hitting down with a steep angle of attack to eliminate most of the bounce. That is why pitching and chipping is best accomplished with clubs with lesser degrees of bounce.

If you are fitting the customer face-to-face, chances are they are going to live in a 50 mile vicinity of you. By knowing that one course has very soft sand or lush grass, while another course has the completely opposite conditions can make it easier to fit for bounce once you have figured if the golfer is a sweeper or a digger.

Sole Width

We saw how sole width influences the effective bounce angle with a wider sole (with the same amount of sole radius from front to back) will raise the leading edge of the club. However no manufacturer gives you that important piece of information. In all fairness - it would be too confusing!

comparison diagram of a narrow and wide sole sand wedge and what happens to the leading edge when the face is openedcomparison diagram of a narrow and wide sole sand wedge and what happens to the leading edge when the face is opened

One other consideration on choosing a wedge with a wider or narrower sole may have to do with the skill level of the golfer. A more experienced golfer may prefer to open or close the face of a wedge to execute a particular shot around the greens and this is where the narrower sole will be more versatile. When you attempt to open the face with a wider soled wedge the leading edge will rise much more rapidly as it will pivot in the rear of the heel area. One benefit of a wider sole is that it makes it easier for the average golfer to escape sand traps that have a lot of loose sand.

Style (Blade or Cavity Back)

There are basically two style of wedges; one being the cavity back model that came with the set and the other a blade-style wedge. I say basically because there are a standalone wedge sets, which have very shallow cavity areas to help shift weight to the perimeter, but nowhere near that of a modern cavity back iron.

With each type there are pro’s and con’s. Wedges from the iron set are generally wider sole than standalone wedges, but not in all cases. A wider sole will be not as versatile opening the face than a narrower sole as we just saw. On the other hand a narrow, blade style wedge will have little in the way of forgiveness on off-center shots. Luckily the club’s length is short enough, the player is less likely to show as much of a scatter pattern on the face as a longer iron.

left, cavity back wedge, right, blade style wedgeleft, cavity back wedge, right, blade style wedge

Another difference is the center of gravity location. Typically a blade-style wedge will possess a center of gravity that is higher as well as toward the heel as shown. By virtue of the center of gravity being closer to the elongated hosel allows the head to rotate closed more rapidly, which can help to keep the ball flight lower with all else being equal. As golfers are trained to hit in the center of the scoreline area, they are not rewarded for a center impact. While not all cavity back wedges that match an iron set have their center of gravity location exactly in the center of the scoreline, the distance is minimal compared to a blade-style wedges, which could be off easily by 5mm.

diagram of the heel-biased location of the center of gravity on a blade golf wedgediagram of the heel-biased location of the center of gravity on a blade golf wedge

Another difference is the center of gravity location. Typically a blade-style wedge will possess a center of gravity that is higher as well as toward the heel as shown. By virtue of the center of gravity being closer to the elongated hosel allows the head to rotate closed more rapidly, which can help to keep the ball flight lower with all else being equal. As golfers are trained to hit in the center of the scoreline area, they are not rewarded for a center impact. While not all cavity back wedges that match an iron set have their center of gravity location exactly in the center of the scoreline, the distance is minimal compared to a blade-style wedges, which could be off easily by 5mm.

Rounded or Flatter Leading Edge

Many golfers may not realize this, but the shape of the leading edge on a wedge is not always as straight as an iron is for assisting in a square alignment to the intended target line. In fact, some wedges are rounded intentionally along the leading edge for the purpose of opening or closing the face, so it does not to look that way at address. In doing so, the rounded leading edge will reduce the amount of offset as the added material will be pushed forward toward the leading edge of the hosel.

This is more of preference than it is a critical clubhead specification like loft or bounce, but one worth consideration, especially amongst better golfers who may like to manipulate the face to create different shots.

diagram looking down at address of two golf wedges, one with more of a rounded leading edge than the otherdiagram looking down at address of two golf wedges, one with more of a rounded leading edge than the other

Fitting Wedges for Length, Head Weight, and Swing Weight

Again, we are going to obey rule number 2 in fitting which is “Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to”. Let us say you had fit the player for the irons, and they needed ½” longer than standard, then I would also base the wedges off the same ½” over standard. However, there is a caveat to that. I would base the ½” over what the manufacturer considers their “standard” suggested length. The reason for this is not all wedges will weigh the same including ones in the same series of wedges.

The most common shaft you find in name brand wedge set is a version of the Dynamic Gold called the “Wedge” shaft. Basically it is an S-flex 0.355” taper shaft that weighs 130g and 37” long, which is pretty heavy when compared to the shafts you will find in the same companies game improvement irons and their matching wedges.

As we have mentioned many times in this text that length and head weight are intertwined. Here is a matrix to see approximately how much head weight is required with this shaft and a standard 52g grip to achieve various swing weights. (Note: this is for a blade-style wedge as the center of gravity is often quite different than that of a cavity model from an iron set. The cavity back models will generally require slightly less head weight to achieve these swing weights.)

Golf Wedge Weight Matrix: Wedge Length Vesus Swing Weight (Grams)

  D0 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8
35.75 285.7 288.0 290.3 292.6 294.9 297.2 299.5 301.8 304.1
35.50 290.0 292.3 294.6 296.6 299.2 301.5 303.8 306.1 308.4
35.25 294.2 296.5 298.9 301.2 303.6 305.9 308.3 310.6 313.0
35.00 298.5 300.9 303.3 305.7 308.1 310.5 321.9 315.3 317.7


A common head weight for a PW is 291g. If the clubmakers was trying to target a D2 swing weight then they would need to assemble the PW to 35.75” or add enough weigh to make the club shorter. The other option is to match the swing weight of the PW (or possibly a point higher) to that of the 9-iron since the modern PW is basically the 9-iron of old.

If you look at the swing weight specification for the name brand wedges you will notice they are higher in relationship to the numbered irons. This is for a particularly good reason as often times the wedges are played from thicker grass and soft sand where the additional weight will help plow through those conditions.  In addition, the wedges are not all swung with a full swing. The additional weight provides momentum on short ¾ and waist high swings as well as retains a certain amount of heft when the player chokes down on the grip.

Normally what you will find is manufacturers treat the PW and GW the same for swing weighting purposes and the SW and any matching LW for those to be the same as in the following chart.

Pitching wedge  same to 2 swing weight increase over the numbered irons 
Gap wedge   same to 2 swing weight increase over the numbered irons
Sand wedge 2-4 swing weight increase over the numbered irons
Lob wedge  2-4 swing weight increase over the numbered irons


For instance, if the manufacturer had their numbered irons at D1, then both the PW and GW would be possibly D1 to D3 while the SW and LW would be possibly between D3 to D5. What confuses matters is the matching PW/GW or the SW/LW does not weigh the same and thus are staggered in length. If the manufacturer made the wedges all the same weight then they intended them to be the same length, but if the PW was 291g and the GW at 294g, then they would make or suggest making the GW ¼” shorter than the PW to attain the same swing weight. Therefore it is imperative to check the weights or measure them prior to assigning what length they should be.

Determine Length in a Static Fitting Situation

Use the player’s height, wrist-to-floor, and any information they provided during the personal interview process to determine what length your customer might be best using. This may require a quick trip to the internet to find what length the manufacturer originally built their wedges to. The reason for this is most end consumers do not know the proper technique to measure the length of their own clubs.

Remember to look at the information in the previous Length, head weight and swing weight section as you will want to base the assembled length relative to the length the manufacturer designed it for. For instance if the player was 5’ 7”, we might suggest using ½” under men’s standard. For example you are building a SW where the most common lengths are 35.25” and 35.5” meaning your target lengths are 34.75” or 35”. If the head weight were 298g, we could expect at 35” the swing weight will be D0. While this may see low for a sand wedge, shorter clubs in general are subsequently a lower swing weight.

Just as most consumers will not know how to measure club length, fewer may have knowledge or the means of measuring the swing weight of their irons to apply the additional swing weight factor shown previously. That is, if they could tell you their irons were C7, then the sand wedge would generally be 2-4 points higher (C9 to D1) and a D0 swing weight would be completely in-line.

Height Based Length Chart

 Height Height (inches) Height (centimeters) Length Relative to Men's Standard
4' 7" 55" 140 cm 2 1/2" under standard
4' 10" 58" 147 cm 2" under standard
5' 1" 61" 155 cm 1 1/2" under standard
5' 4" 64" 163 cm 1" under standard
5' 7" 67" 170 cm 1/2" under standard
5' 10" 70" 178 cm Standard
6' 1" 73" 185 cm 1/2" over standard
6' 4" 76" 193 cm 1" over standard
6' 7" 79" 201 cm 1 1/2" over standard
6' 10" 82" 208 cm 2" over standard
7' 1" 85" 216 c, 2 1/2" over standard

Fitting for Wedge Lie

Fitting for the correct lie is just as important when it comes to the wedges as it was the irons. Not only can it improve direction but solidness of contact too. For a full discussion, review the Lie Fitting chapter. If you fitted the player for irons previously and you are using the matching wedges that came with the set, then you would want to use the same lie relative to a standard. That is, if your customer was fit for 1° upright in the numbered irons, then make the matching wedges 1° upright also. You can always go back and check lie (and face impact) using you lie board and make whatever small changes might be necessary when your customer comes to pick up the clubs – assuming of course you have a lie/loft machine at your immediate disposal.

measuring the lie of a golf club in a loft and lie machinemeasuring the lie of a golf club in a loft and lie machine

If you are not using the matching wedges from the set, but using a standalone wedge set to complement the irons then there are no guarantees of what lie the person will need even if you know the player was fitted for 1° upright with the irons. The reason being is the center of gravity of the blade-style wedge may be completely different than the cavity back iron set not to mention blade-style wedges tend to be a little flatter than game improvement wedges. However, I might start with 1° upright and re-test once the clubs are built and the customer comes to pick them up. Few club fitters will have a series of demo wedges to base their fitting on like they may irons. In addition, be sure to check the actual lie (and loft too) as there could be manufacturing tolerances.

Additional Wedge Fitting Considerations

Material / Finish

One preference a golfer may have that has absolutely no difference in playability is the material the head is made from regardless of what TV commentators may say. For instance there are several forged wedges on the market. Because they are forged, they are often made from softer materials that are more malleable to form into shape. There are cast wedges made from a wide variety of materials (some no longer available such as beryllium copper due to health concerns). A few of those materials can be nearly as soft as the carbon steels used in forging; most notably 304 stainless. Many golfers who think of cast club will be more familiar with 431 and 17-4 stainless steels, which will be your hardest materials. Plus you may see 8620 listed, which falls in-between in hardness between 304 and 431 stainless steel.

It is debatable whether or not golfers can actually tell the difference in the material, especially with the soft, urethane covered ball sold today. But if your customer requests a certain material, that becomes another fitting parameter. But be prepared if the customer requests a forged carbon steel model. They will be more expensive as well as harder to find, especially for left-handed golfers.

Another option that players may have to choose from is the finish of the wedge. Manufacturers tend to sell their standalone wedge sets for much longer periods of time than game-improvement irons as the technology does make them obsolete. Therefore the manufacturer may invest into offering the wedges in many more finishes. Popular finishes are brushed satin as they show little wear and are easily maintained and mirror (high polished or plated) on cast models. Carbon steel models are usually chrome plated to prevent rusting, but some are not to intentionally rust over time. Once the tiny “rusticals” form on the face, it creates slightly more surface roughness to contact the ball. Plus, by not chrome plating they are a little softer than if they were plated.

You also see colored finishes, many which are dark to reduce glare from the sunlight. Black nitride, Melonite, black chrome and several PVD colors are a few examples of these types of finishes. Again, these are more for personal preferences than they are for performance.

Golf Wedge Grooves

One parameter we have not talked about so far is grooves. There are all sorts of different groove types such as V, U, box (or square) and punch marks but the discussion now is has centered around whether the grooves are conforming or possibly non-conforming grooves. The reason I say possibly non-conforming grooves is that manufacturers may not elect to send in their wedges to the USGA to be tested in order to obtain an official ruling.  The 2010 Groove rule made manufacturing a wedge (or any club with greater than 24 degrees) a challenge. Depending upon your customer’s playing status they may need wedges which are indeed conforming to the Rules of Golf to be able to play in tournaments when the Condition of Competition is effect.

The diagram represents some of the different type of grooves you will encounter. The function of the grooves is to channel off water and grass juices between the club face and the ball, so the ball does not skid or deform up the face as much as if there were no grooves present at all. In dry conditions there is very little difference in spin between the different grooves or even none at all.  However in certain conditions there can be and that is why the USGA made changes to the rules so the best golfer in the world could not take advantage of the extra “bite” from the designer grooves.

diagram of the 4 different shaft golf grooves, plus a blow up of a groove measured by the USGAdiagram of the 4 different shaft golf grooves, plus a blow up of a groove measured by the USGA

I say better golfers because of the conditions they play under. I was invited to play in a Hooter’s Pro Am several years ago. The course conditions were immaculate. I found myself hitting greens and the ball would check and back up like you see the pros do on TV. After several holes, my playing partners were getting a little miffed at me because I was spinning the ball so much I was not getting close to the hole. However, these were the same exact clubs I had played all summer long and never, not even remotely, was able to spin the ball like that. To make a long story short, on the way home there was enough daylight to squeeze in 9 holes on my home course. Not once was I able to spin the ball back with the same set of sticks. I learned an especially important lesson that day that we (the everyday golfer) does not play under the ideal conditions to see how grooves can affect spin.

Each groove has a certain width, depth, shape, and volume. The more volume, the more water it can channel off. The shapes are generalized as it is exceedingly difficult to produce a perfect V, U, or box especially in a cast club that has not been machine milled. In fact, the actual groove has tolerances that are naked with the human eye. The bottom right picture is a blown up view of an individual groove using a Groovescan, which is the method the USGA uses to test for width, depth, area and top edge radius for conformity. This is done by casting a dam of epoxy over the grooves, letting the epoxy cure, slicing the casting with a very sharp knife, and then scanning and evaluating each groove with computer software.

There are several specific dimensions that apply specifically to grooves such as width and spacing which are far too many to be covered here on what is and what is not permissible. You can read these in Appendix II in the Rules of Golf booklet or the supplementary book A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls also published by the USGA. This information is also available online at the USGA’s website.

Milled Face Grooves

Two additional features you may find on the face of a wedge aside from the grooves. One is skim milling, which is akin to the face milling you see on putter faces. Instead of the face being milled to ensure the face is perfectly flat like a putter, milled face wedges have the special milling added to further channel off water or grass juices between the ball and the face. There are strict USGA requirements regarding surface roughness that must be maintained for the wedge to be conforming. The milling depth between the crest to the trough cannot exceed 0.001 inches.

dual milled golf club facedual milled golf club face

The second is micro-milled grooves. These are laser-etched on the face to create additional surface roughness. These often run parallel to the traditional grooves, but you see diagonal laser etching as well. The micro-milled grooves are much shallower than a traditional face groove.

golf wedge with micro-milled groovesgolf wedge with micro-milled grooves

Full Face Grooves

Another preference is to choose a wedge with full face grooves. This is where the grooves extends out to within 3mm of the edge of the face. Full face wedges are helpful for those golfers that like to manipulate the face open and swing with an outside/in path where there is a possibility of hitting the smooth area out on the toe and losing control as you could with a conventional wedge.

full face golf wedge face view with a black PVD finish and white score linesfull face golf wedge face view with a black PVD finish and white score lines

Wedge Shaft Fitting

Shaft fitting is often ignored with major OEM standalone wedge sets as a single S-flex; heavy weight steel shaft is most often used. Occasionally you will find the ladies version (if they offer one) will come with a steel-shafted L-flex shaft. However, the same cannot be said of the wedges that come with the matching iron set. That is where we will start our discussion. If your customer will be using the matching wedges to their iron set I would strongly recommend using the exact shaft and flex, so they have a similar feel throughout. This even holds true if the player uses graphite shafted irons.

You may get players who use graphite-shafted irons (or even hybrids as iron replacements) but wish to use steel-shafted wedges due to economic concerns. Make sure to explain the differences in weight and often the steel shafts will tend to be stiffer as a whole in the same given flex.  Here I would use the knowledge you have gained by reading this text and try to match some of the key features. For instance, if the graphite shafts they are using are an ultralight (<70g), high launching shaft, I will seek out an ultralight steel shaft (@95g cut weight) that is listed as high launching as well. If they are using more of a mid-weight (@70-95g) mid-launching graphite shaft, I might match those specs by looking at lightweight steel shaft with a mid-launching or bend point description by the manufacturer and in the same flex. This should make the transition much easier when they go to swing the dissimilar shafts.

Let us refer to our Length, head weight and swing weight matrix, which was based on a head, center-balanced shafts. The length of a wedge is rather short and the balance point of the shaft on a wedge is not much further past the 14” fulcrum point to contribute to the swing weight. As a direct result, it takes approximately 16-20g of shaft weight reduction to lower the swing weight by 1 point assuming the length and balance point have not changed. A significant shift in the shaft balance point may have more of a factor on reducing swing weight than the weight itself.

Shaft Flex for Wedge

Swing weight and shaft flex goes hand in hand. For instance, all the irons in a set are usually set to the same swing weight, which makes it easy as well as predictable to tip trim the shaft and have an orderly pattern. The majority of unitized parallel tip steel iron shafts are trimmed in ½” increments between consecutive irons.  This produces a frequency that slopes between 4 and 5 cpm per iron. If the club fitter is using the same shafts in the wedges they need to be aware of two situations that can occur.

The bottom of bore to ground line measurement (BBGM) on a standalone wedge set is typically higher off the ground than an iron or wedge from an iron set due to the longer hosel length. This will create a lower frequency just the same as if the shaft were trimmed less or if ordering a longer raw length taper tip shaft than what is suggested by the manufacturer (soft stepping). The following chart shows building a set of clubs with a heavier weight S-flex steel shaft. The PW is part of the iron set whereas the GW, SW and LW came from a separate wedge series where the BBGM was ½” longer.

Club Weight BBGM Tip Trim Length Swing Weight Final CPM
3 iron 242 g 1" 1" 39" D0 311
4 iron 249 g 1" 1.5" 38.5" D0 315
5 iron 256 g 1" 2" 38" D0 320
6 iron 263 g 1" 2.5" 37.5" D0 324
7 iron 270 g 1" 3" 37" D0 328
8 iron 277 g 1" 3.5" 36.5" D0 333
9 Iron 284 g 1" 4" 36" D0 337
PW 291 g 1" 4" 35.5" D0 337
GW 294 g 1.5" 4.5" 35.5" D1 336
SW 300 g 1.5" 4.5" 35.5" D4 333
LW 305.5 g 1.5" 4.5" 35.5" D6 331


You can see what the final swing weight and frequency (CPM) is at the given length. The bold entries show the addition of ½” in trimming to offset the difference in the BBGM. If that had not been accounted for, the final frequency would have been @ 4-5 cpm lower on those listed for the same clubs. In this case the club fitter decided to make the wedges all the same length. The club fitter may elect to plot the frequency to show the customer the end result. However it may raise a red flag in their mind, especially if you had said you were going to frequency match the clubs because the wedges do not fall on the same lines as the numbered irons.

This is a pretty typical set as the 9-iron (and in this case PW) possesses the highest frequency. The wedges drop off slightly in flex due solely to their heavier head weights and subsequent higher swing weight. There is a 1:1 relationship between swing weight and frequency. Each swing weight point increase is a one cpm decrease.

graph of the frequency slope of a set of clubs with the wedges relaxed matched to the rest of the iron setgraph of the frequency slope of a set of clubs with the wedges relaxed matched to the rest of the iron set

As stated before, the wedges are often swung with less than a full swing therefore does not have to be as stiff as result. After all, a person with a slower swing is often advised to use a softer shaft. But what happens when the wedges are swung at full speed? Probably not much in this case, especially since we removed the extra ½” off the tip for the variance in the BBGM. The shafts are still plenty stiff as the LW is 6 cpm lower than the PW and amounts only slightly more than ½ flex softer. Do not worry as this small difference will not throw off the accuracy on full shots.

This is the reason I would advise you to weight sort your shafts prior to assembly. Then you can place the heaviest shafts in the LW, next heaviest in the SW, etc. The more material (at least with a steel shaft) the stiffer the shaft will be. You might be able to take advantage of the manufacturing tolerances and see a few cycles per minute or perhaps a little more increase in the final frequency by weight sorting in this manner.

For golfers who are more aggressive and tend to make full swings with their wedges, the clubmaker can alter the tip trimming in many cases where there is ample parallel tip section. It takes @ 3/16” or 0.1875” of additional tip trimming to increase the frequency by one cpm. Here is an example of how we adjusted the tip trimming to make them frequency match. Remember we had to trim an additional ½” off of the tip to adjust for the shorter length.

Club Weight BBGM Tip Trim Length Swing Weight Final CPM
9 iron 284 g 1" 4" 36" D0 337
PW 291 g 1" 4.5" 35.5" D0 342
GW 294 g 1.5" 5.19" 35.5" D1 342
SW 300 g 1.5" 5.75" 35.5" D4 342
LW 305.5 g 1.5" 6.13" 35.5" D6 342


Notice how much stiffer the wedges are between the two examples. The LW will be the most noticeable at 11 cpm or a full flex. The stiffer the shaft, the lower the trajectory is going to be. Luckily, the wedges, in particular the LW, have ample loft.  Just realize in making the clubs (like in second example), how the clubs will feel on partial or finesse shots (the majority of the shots taken with a wedge) and the reason I prefer the relaxed frequency matched method, which does not include the wedges.

graph of the frequency slope of a set of clubs with the wedges frequency matched to the rest of the iron setgraph of the frequency slope of a set of clubs with the wedges frequency matched to the rest of the iron set

Grip and Grip Size

Take the time to fit your customer not only for grip style and brand that may be their favorite or chosen from your grip display, but also check they have the proper size. For a complete discussion of grips and grip sizing, please refer to the Grip Fitting chapter.

Remember the cause and effect of grip weight as some jumbo grips can be considerably heavier than others, plus you have lighter weight models available that can reduce the overall weight of the club and increase the heft of the club at the same time. Demo clubs are really the only way to test for this.

Be aware that there are grips designed specifically for wedges. Whether the ball is above your feet in a bunker or greenside slope, or you are trying to take a little off the shot, you may be tempted to grip down. Wedge grips are often 1” longer than a standard length grip as well as non-tapered or reduced tapered so the grip does not feel smaller when the player grips down on the club. There may be additional alignment guides for your lower hand's and thumb which allows for a repeatable hand position and take some of the guess work when ones goes from practicing onto the course.

wedge golf club gripwedge golf club grip

Determine the Grip in a Static Fitting Situation

In cases when a player is not in your shop to demonstrate the different type of grips and sizing or capable of hitting various clubs and evaluating the results such as an internet fitting or surprise gift, use the grip sizing charts. Make sure to ask if the player has a favorite grip (or size) too. If the player’s hands sweat profusely or play in hot and humid conditions on a regular basis, know what types of grips you stock that would be the most beneficial.

Weight Distribution and Final Adjustments

If you have demo wedges at the same length the customer is ordering, you can always add small amounts of weight to fine tune the swing weight. This is usually accomplished by applying lead foil tape on the head and even on the shaft to demonstrate mid-weighting. Or if you have demo wedges with holes cut into the butt ends of grip, you use any counterweighting system to see if alternative weighting at the end or further down the shaft may stimulate a difference in the comfort level and performance at the given length and shaft weight you fit for. It should only take a few swings by the golfer to see if counterweighting has any positive response. If not you can rule it out and at least your customer had experimented with something few golfer ever do. Remember, by using the principles discussed in the length and head weight segment will often take care of producing a club that is too heavy or light.

Clubhead Center of Gravity Adjustments

Speaking of weight distribution, we have not looked at the total picture of weight distribution in the head itself. We mentioned earlier that a blade style wedge will typically exhibit a CG closer to the heel and from the Geometry in Pictures chapter; we understand that a lower center of gravity clubhead will produce a higher initial launch angle with everything else the same.

A clubmaker can fine-tune the swing weight of a wedge using the lead tape. However, can they effective raise or lower the CG by where the weight is placed? The answer to that is no, as it take a substantial amount of weight to alter the CG. Plus, you cannot just add, but you also need to remove weight elsewhere to enhance the effect.

Hireko was interested in studying the effects on center of gravity and ball flight and developed a wedge to test a few theories.  The Dynacraft VLS (short for Variable Launch and Spin) wedge series was created as a result of this experiment. It was a system that includes two interchangeable inserts: 3g aluminum and 17g stainless steel as well as a small wrench. The 14 gram or ½ ounce disparity in weights altered the center of gravity of the clubhead to produce two unique sets of conditions to control the initial trajectory, spin rate, maximum height of the shot, landing angle, amount of roll and finally total distance the ball travels.

diagram of a golf wedge with adjustable weight to create a high/rearward or low/forward center of gravity wedgediagram of a golf wedge with adjustable weight to create a high/rearward or low/forward center of gravity wedge

While 14g seemed like a lot of weight, the actual vertical shift in the CG amount was only to 0.06”. Using a Trackman launch monitor, were where able to gather information that would not be possible with the naked eye. As expected, the wedge with the heavier weight located in the lower position created a slightly higher initial launch angle, albeit a very small one.

Where we saw the biggest difference come was in the shape of the flight path when interchanging the two weights around. This was a direct result of a change in the spin rate with the heavier weight in the lower position creating an increase in the spin rate of the ball. This is just one example as not every golfer saw the same results.

diagram of the ball flight between a high/forward center of gravity sand wedge and a low/forward center of gravity sand wedge diagram of the ball flight between a high/forward center of gravity sand wedge and a low/forward center of gravity sand wedge

You have probably heard head and shaft manufacturers touting higher launch and low spin for drivers to help maximize distance for many golfers, other than those with lower swing speed which need to the additional spin to keep the ball aloft. For each and every person and club in the set, there is a unique set of conditions (launch and spin) that maximizes results.

The most surprising part was which position ultimately hit the ball higher. Even though the initial trajectory was lower with the wedge in the high / rearward CG position, the ball kept going outward and upward at the same time, creating a higher peak trajectory compared to the lower/ forward CG position. Remember, this is with the exact same club with the only exception switching the two weights around.

The last part of the ball’s flight path is the final descent. As you can see from the diagram, the wedge with the weight in the higher and more rearward position will create a flatter (3° in this example) angle of descent, which will allow the ball to release with more roll once it hits the green. In the case here, the roll was 23% greater (and a total distance of 7 yards longer on average) than the same head, but with the weight located in the lower and more forward position. This would not be a good scenario if one had a hard time holding the green on approach shots. But those who cannot seem to get the ball back to the hole will sure benefit.

The lesson learned by all of this is shifting 14 grams of weight can totally change the initial trajectory, spin, maximum height, landing angle, amount of roll and finally total net distance the ball travels. Only by experimenting on both full shots and partial shots around the green with you be able to find out. Remember, not everyone will benefit with the high and rearward CG wedge just like not all golfers will like a certain type of ball (distance vs. spin).


While not necessarily in the wedge family, a chipper’s use is primarily around the green and deserves a special mention. A chipper golf club falls under an iron classification by the USGA, but may possess features reminiscent of a wood, iron, putter or all three. The concept behind a chipper typically is to provide the player with confidence when hitting shots from around the green.

Chippers can range in lofts between 20 and 47 degrees. This is a fairly wide variation making some chippers more of a run-up club and others more like a pitching club. If an average chipper loft existed, it would be in the mid-30 degree range or the equivalent of a modern day #7 or 8 iron. Most chippers have upright lies, usually 68 degrees or more. Most are fairly heavy, weighing at least 300 grams. The vast majority of chippers are made to a putter length, in the 34”-35” range. Most have offset hosels or are fitted with curved shafts that create offset.

right handed chipper golf club with a cavity backright handed chipper golf club with a cavity back

Why choose a golf chipper for a given player? If the player is having trouble with chipping from the fringe or light grass around the green, perhaps the heavier weight and shorter length of a chipper will improve accuracy. As the club is swung much like a putter (and putters are the shortest clubs), accuracy may be improved. Plus, the heavier weight may help keep the club online more easily than a lighter weight iron. The offset hosel of some chippers may help to further keep the club on the correct path.

Chippers are not used often from high grass or for distances over 10 yards in most instances, although there may be exceptions. Keep in mind that if a player wants a chipper, it will be somewhat specialized (limited) in its usage and will require that another club in the set be removed to be in accordance with USGA Rules that limit the number of clubs a player may carry to fourteen. Also keep in mind that chippers must not utilize putter grips to be in accordance with USGA Rules.

Speaking of which, there are a couple other rules that applies to chippers. One of which is in regard to chippers with dual striking surfaces - those are non-conforming.  The other is regarding length. The USGA adopted a position that clubs designed for chipping (including modified wedges) that are longer than standard-length clubs of similar loft are not traditional and customary in form and make. Here is a table to show you those maximum lengths.

Maximum Chipper Length by Loft

Loft Range 16-19° 20-22° 23-25° 26-28° 29-32° 33-36° 37-40° 41-44° 45-48°
Max Length 41.5" 41" 40.5" 40" 39.5" 39" 38.5" 38" 37.5"


Wedge Fitting Summary

Wedge play is a key element in the player’s score as so many shots occur with these high-lofted clubs in any given round. They also need to be some of the most versatile clubs too as they are used in a variety of course condition from tight mowed fairways, deep shaggy grass from just off the green or in a sand trap with perhaps a buried lie.

  • Make sure to choose lofts that will not only complement the player’s irons, but also spread them out so there are sufficient gaps between consecutive clubs.
  • Do not just look at the bounce measurements which the manufacturer supplies, rather look at the effective bounce by looking carefully at the combination of the bounce, sole width, sole radius from front-to-back that sets the leading edge above the ground. Then match that to how the player comes into the ball (digger vs. sweeper) and whether the turf conditions the golfer plays most are soft or hard.
  • Understand the relationships between the length, head weight, swing weight and final frequency of the club and set the length according to the player’s posture and comfort level. After that you can adjust the lie to cut down on dispersion.
  • Do not ignore the preferences the player may have such as clubhead style (blade vs. cavity back), leading edge shape (rounded vs. flatter), and material, finish, and groove conformance.
  • Make sure to select a shaft, shaft flex, and grip and grip size that will match the numbered irons so there is more uniformity within the set.
  • Understand the swing weights will often be heavier than the numbered irons for a reason.
  • While not mainstream, chippers are offered as an alternative for players who struggle around the greens.

Modern Guide to Golf Clubmaking

© 2024 Hireko Trading Co.,Inc.. All rights reserved, including the right to reprint or reproduction in whole or in any form.