Updated: Mar 18, 2019
New students usually have a great degree of certainty as to what needs to change in their game to score lower. The majority of the time its, 'if I could only fix my driver' . From a teaching professional's standpoint, we know its the wedge/short irons that lower scores. For a recreational golfer from about 70 yards in, and for a Tour Pro 120 yards in.
Since this game we love is expensive already, you may balk at some of the things I would recommend. Don't make the game harder for yourself with equipment that doesn’t suit your swing or is in poor condition. Having a great swing is only half the battle. Assuming you launch the ball at the angle you want to, and it carries the distance you need it to, what the ball does when it lands on the green is the other half. Don't lose the war because your equipment is sub standard.
First suggestion: get fit for your wedges! Do you know what type of swing you have and which bounce would complement it. As a general guideline, your wedges will be 4 degrees apart, with your bounce degrees 2 apart. For example- 52/08, 56/10, 60/12. What type of grind, from a wide grind to thin grind- Callaway's R grind (an aggressive C grind is what complements my game. These decisions can vary based on whether you use your wedges in full swing or for chipping around the greens, and what type of conditions you generally play in.
Second suggestion: since your wedges will typically wear down much faster than other clubs in your bag, upgrade your wedges regularly, with groove maintenance a priority between upgrades.
How often should you change, depends primarily on the conditions you play in (how often are you in the bunkers?) and how much practice you do. Remember a cast wedge will last much longer than a forged one. Unless you are a Tour pro that will get wedges every few weeks from your sponsor, cost is a big factor!
Personally, with all the teaching I do, I like to have different 52/56 degree wedges while teaching that are reasonably close to what I do finesse training or play with. This usually means whatever I upgrade from I will sharpen the grooves and keep for that purpose.
You will usually notice that your spin rates on a launch monitor are decreasing or that check on first bounce is not as sharp, or you are getting a lot more roll out than usual.
As you get better, you may start to prefer less 'bounce' on your wedges. which can be because you are playing a different golf ball. I know I will sound like a broken record, and there is a blog in here about ball selection, but your wedges and your golf ball may be incompatible. (Sign up for a lesson with one of our coaches to verify!)
Here's to a great 2019 golf season, remember the work you put into your game during winter, (ensure you have a proper practice plan) will result in achieving your goals next season!
Phil Mickleson’s Recommendations
PW (pitching wedge 48 degrees) - usually, this comes with your set of irons, so don't worry about it too much GW (gap wedge 52 degrees)- This one should have low bounce, and medium to high depth. SW (sand wedge 56 degrees)- This one should have high bounce and high depth LW (lob wedge - 60 degrees) - Lastly, you should have a lob wedge with low bounce and low depth.