Every single time I play a round of golf someone has to mention they have a 58 degree wedge vs a 60 degree wedge. Some golfers even make it a point to brag that they can hit a 62 degree or 64 degree wedge. Others will claim you should never use a lob or sand wedge anywhere but the sand. So, what is the best wedge to use and when should you use it?
First things first, a 58 degree wedge and a 60 degree wedge are basically interchangeable. Unless you are a scratch golfer that can spin the ball with a two hops and check ball flight, a 58 degree and 60 degree wedge are going to feel no different. What may be different is the bounce on your club, which is the number between 6 and 12 below the 60 or 58.
Having a low bounce vs a high bounce will cause your club to “bounce” off the sand or off the fairway. If you are playing on a very hard fairway in which there is very little grass you may find it nearly impossible to not blade or skull a low bounce wedge. This is especially true for amateur golfers that use their hands and arms to start the swing.
Hitting a 58 or 60 degree wedge properly takes amazing hand eye coordination or, wait for it, a technically sound golf swing in which you use your body/core instead of your hands and arms. You can learn more about how I used hit a 60 degree wedge here. If you do not have good hand eye coordination you should use your pitching wedge or an approach wedge with a cavity to simply chip around the greens. If you have a bunker to carry you should likely err on the side of caution and just chip to one side or the other.
If you do have great hand eye coordination and you are getting better at wedges I would suggest trying a few different brands. Wedges are much different depending on the brand. A Titleist Vokey is much different than a Cleveland RTX which is much different than a Callaway Mack Daddy. Grab a few different wedges from your club house and get a feel for what works for you.
I was once a fantastic wedge player using an old school MacGregor VIP wedge. Everyone used to laugh at me until they saw me use them from 100 yards and in.
One major difference in a 58 and 60 degree wedge will be the distance you hit the ball. For me, I used to hit my 60 degree wedge between 80 and 84 yards. I could hit a 58 degree wedge around 84 to 88 yards. While most will not think this is important, it is. There are a number of times I was at 86 yards and didn’t want to try to overpower a 60 degree wedge.
Remember, you can only have 14 clubs in the bag so you cannot carry a 60, 58, 56, 54 and 52 wedge. While great wedge players would love to do that, most generally pick three which for me was 60, 56 and 52. Every now and again I would play 62, 56 and 52 depending on the course.
If you are just learning the game of golf and trying to improve your wedge game, focus more on contact and hitting the ball properly rather than the bounce and the degree of the wedge. Whether you play a Callaway, Cleveland or Titleist wedge, distance control is very important.
Update: Scratch Golfers with a Great Swing
With over 99% of amateur golfers using their hands, wrists, arms and shoulders to create the golf swing, there is no point in explaining the proper chipping process. Almost no one starts the chip or full swing with the back side of their lower left obliques. If you understand what I am talking about, continue reading. If you do not, stop reading, go get fitted for a club you think will help and accept you are never going to consistently chip the ball on courses in which you are unfamiliar.
Ok, scratch guys that use your core to hit the golf ball, Let’s talk.
You probably notice that when you are chipping it the best, it feels like you aren’t using your hands or arms at all. When you get in those tough situations in which there is a tight lie or you have to really clip the ball perfectly to get check on it, you may get handsy or rip the club back with your arms or shoulders.
Any time you are in a stressful situation, remember that the lower lever obliques should start the chipping motion. If you can get the swing started by using the lower left obliques and not the hands, arms or shoulders, you are going to be a great chipper.
That said, it takes many, many practice reps to understand how to get the club back to the ball when you are in the correct position at the “top” of your chip or pitch. If you have been a handsy player in the past, you are going to shank almost every chip because you aren’t going to use your lower right obliques to get the club back to the ball.
As my coach always says, you should not try to hit a wedge with a full backswing. With this being true, you will find that a 60 degree wedge and a 58 degree wedge won’t make that much difference. It could be the difference in a little more spin or a yard or two, but obsessing over the difference in a 58 vs 60 degree wedge is not going to take strokes off your game. Focus more on getting the arms out of the swing and using the core. Once you do this, you will know that any wedge from 56 degrees all the way to 64 degrees will react in a similar manner but the distance will be slightly different.
Do not try to swing hard at wedges. The loft of the club is going to generate tremendous spin so I suggest three quarter swing wedges. If you are 100 yards are less into the green, you should not be trying to generate speed with your golf swing.