The 60 degree wedge – an amateur golfers best friend or worst nightmare. Every amateur golfer has stood over a chip shot with a tight lie saying to themselves, “please don’t blade or skull this one across the green.” When hitting the 60 degree sand wedge properly you can work magic around the greens. The only way I am a 10 handicap is because of my short game and, ultimately, my 60 degree wedge.
If I added up the total number of times I use each club in a given round my 60 degree wedge would be right there with my putter. It is not unheard of for me to chip or pitch with the 60 degree wedge over 20 times in a round. Let’s just say that I am not the best at hitting greens in regulation. Below is a photo of the 60 degree wedge I will buy the next time I head to Pinehurst or a major golf course tournament location. A tradition of mine is to buy a wedge or a club at every famous golf course to seal my memory. When I bring it out on the course I will remember visiting Pinehurst, Congressional, Augusta or Chambers Bay.
I currently have a VIP MacGregor 60 degree wedge which is about as low of the totem poll as you can get. I learned up to chip and pitch with a MacGregor 52 and 60 degree wedge and I am just now starting to pull them out of my bag. I am one of those golfers that doesn’t like to fix what is not broken. I recently purchased a 56 degree Cleveland 588 RTX similar to the club above and I can tell you that it makes a world of difference. I will do a writeup on why Cleveland wedges are worth the money in the near future.
So, how in the world can you use a 60 degree wedge to get the ball close to the hole on fast greens? Very carefully. Something you must remember is that your hands must be in front of the ball at impact. This is especially important when it comes to chipping with a 60 degree wedge. To do this I forward press like crazy. Below is an example of how much I forward press even with a 6 iron
The reason I started forward pressing was to make 100% certain I was compressing the ball and not skulling or thinning the ball. Even if I hit the ball a little bit thin it is still an acceptable shot. Thin to win, right? If your hands are even with or behind the ball you are going to have all kinds of issues trying to chip with a 60 degree wedge. I have many golfing buddies that refuse to use a 60 degree wedge anywhere but in the sand. They claim that it is a sand wedge for a reason.
They will use a pitching wedge or a 9 iron to chip and basically use it like a putter. This is fine and dandy if you are playing on courses with slow greens. If you playing on greens that are running 14 on the stimpmeter and you have to go over a bunker you are not going to be able to chip with a pitching wedge. I quickly learned this on Hasentree #2. It is a bowl shaped green that is nearly impossible to hold with spin. Unless you have trajectory on your chip and pitch shots you can be rest assured your ball will be rolling off the other side. I have brought friends to Hasentree that have chipped back and forth across the second green six times. They pick up and walk to three tee box.
The photo below shows the collection area below the second green but it does not do it justice. Unless you are 100% confident chipping with a high lofted iron there is no way you can get it to the green and keep it on the green.
I would strongly suggest finding a green that is elevated and bowl shaped. Having to get the ball up in the air quickly will make it much harder for those that are accustomed to using a pitching wedge or nine iron. Driving the ball into the side of the hill in hopes of it bouncing forward is an option but learning how to get height on your chip shots will come in handy on extremely fast greens.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the greens at Hasentree were rolling at 14.6 on the stimpmeter. This means a chip with a pitching wedge or 9 iron is likely to roll all the way across and off the green. Chipping the ball straight up in the air and allowing it to land like a sack of potatoes will allow you to carry the ball closer to the hole and not have to worry about it rolling out all that much.
A word of warning; if you forward press as much as I do you are going to deloft the 60 degree wedge and it won’t get as much height. If you have to carry a bunker or some type of hazard you will want to make certain your back shoulder is very low at impact. The lower your back shoulder the more height you will get on the ball.
If you are having trouble hitting your 60 degree wedge around fast greens please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you improve your short game by gaining confidence with this amazing club. You may also want to consider looking at different types of loft to suit your game and your hand/eye coordination. Remember that chipping and pitching has a lot to do with your hands so feel free to play with a few different grips or ways to make solid contact at impact.
August 2016 Update – I am now a 5 handicap and I still have my MacGregor VIP 60 degree wedge. I have tried Callaway, Titleist and Cleveland yet still go back to the wedge I learned on. This might be a lesson for anyone struggling with the newer wedges. Also note that my 60 degree wedge has 8 degrees of bounce. This is very uncommon. I prefer less bounce with the type of shots I play around the greens.
In the Hasentree Member-Guest tournament I ordered a Titleist Vokey 64 degree wedge with 8 degrees of bounce and the Titleiest rep said they didn’t make one for the public. Unfortunately, I had to get a 62 degree wedge with 8 degrees of bounce. Let’s just say that thing spins like crazy on the greens. I tend to only use it for the 65 yards and in touch shots. An 80 yard shot will easily spin back off the green.