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9 Iron vs Pitching Wedge: Learning When to Use Each

9 Iron vs Pitching Wedge: Learning When to Use Each

Your money clubs are your short irons, wedges and putter.

To be able to make birdie putsts, you must stiffen your approach shots. I will be focusing on the differences between a pitching and 9 iron in this post.

This course will give you a deeper understanding of the construction and performance each club, and how to maximize your performance. I will show you when to use these clubs and which spins and hits are the best.


Table of Contents

  • Overview of the 9 Iron and Pitching Wedge
  • Differences between a Pitching Wedge and a 9 Iron
  • Which Club Hits More Often?
  • When to Use Each Club

Overview of the 9 Iron and Pitching Wedge

Pitching wedge and 9-iron are weaker lofted clubs, designed to lift your golf ball and land it softly. The 9 is the last iron in the set before you get to the wedges. This club’s shorter shaft makes it easy for amateurs to control and increases consistency.

A pitching wedge is the most lofty of the golf clubs and bridges between your 9-iron iron and approach wedge.

A pitching wedge is used by golfers for short full shots. It produces good distance, high trajectory, soft landing, and provides enough distance. This allows you to stick it close enough to the pin for a putt. For chips and pitch shots, a pitching wedge may also be used.

Differences between a Pitching Wedge and a 9 Iron


The loft is the first thing that I notice about these clubs. A 9-iron typically has 38.5 to39 degrees of loft, making them the weakest lofted irons in your set. A pitching wedge loft measures typically between 43.5 to 44 degrees.

Today, lofted clubs are stronger and can be used to increase distance. In this instance, you might find a Callaway Rogue ST Max OS Irons 36.5-degree 9 iron and a 41 degree pitching wedge.

The loft difference can affect backspin and apex as well as the distance between your shots. Technically speaking, the weaker loft means that it spins more and launches higher, which leads to fewer yards.

Shaft Length

The shaft length is the next difference between a pitching wedge and a 9-iron. These clubs follow the trend of short and mid irons with a decrease of 0.5 inches per club. For example, the standard 9-iron shaft is 36.25” compared to 35.75” for a pitching wedge.

The shafts of these clubs don’t have to be very long so most golfers are able to swing them with ease. The shafts are shorter so that it is easier to control and catch the ball from the sweet spot.

Face Lie Angle

As your loft of your irons decreases, the lie angle of your clubface will increase. For example, an 8 iron has a lie angle 63.5 degrees, while a nine-iron has a lie angle 64 degrees.

Next, you will move on to the wedges. Everyone has the same angle. The lie angle for a gap, lob, or sand wedge is 64.5 degrees, which is half a degree less than the 9-iron.

The angle of your irons will change to help keep the clubface in line with the target. You can hook or slice your shots if the angle of your face is wrong.


Bob Vokey, a legendary wedge designer, describes bounce as the angle between a leading edge and the lowest mark of the sole. Your clubs will offer more forgiveness if they have a higher degree of bounce.

It propels your clubface towards the ball for clean strikes even on mishits. Instead of digging into the turf with your clubhead, it springs into and around the ball to create ultimate ball speed.


Manufacturers can increase the offset of irons to promote straight ball flight and workability. This feature is great for full-swing shots using hybrids, but it can also reduce your control with wedges and short irons.

That is why you’ll notice that stronger lofts possess enhanced offset angles, whereas a 9-iron and pitching wedge feature less. The wedge is offset by 0.4 to 0.7 millimeters on average, compared to a 9-iron. It produces more side spin and backspin than the shorter iron.


These two golf balls have very similar backspin numbers. However, the difference is not significant. I produce 7200 rpm backspin with a 9 iron, compared to 8200 when using a pitching wedge.

This has an impact on my apex as well as my descent angle and roll. It should travel faster and stop faster when it lands because I have higher backspin levels using a pitching tool.


Backspin can have an impact on your golf ball’s trajectory and apex, as I already explained. Your golf ball should launch higher the more backspin you produce. However, a high launch angle does not necessarily mean a higher apex.

I can hit a 9-iron 25 yards into the air as a moderate swinger and a pitching wedge 22 yards. The ball’s trajectory is lower because of the slower clubhead speed and ball speed. It cannot reach the same levels as a 9-iron.

On the contrary, I launch a pitching tool that is 1.5 degrees higher than my 9 iron.

Clubhead Speed

Your clubhead speed will be faster the longer your shaft. Your clubhead speed increases, which improves your ability produce powerful strikes and generates rapid ball pace.

Clubhead speed decreases as you reduce the length your shaft. This can be seen in the discrepancy in my 4-iron, 7 iron, and lob wedge velocity. I average 79 MPH on full swings using a 4-iron, while I average 62 MPH with a 60-degree.

This is true for both the pitching wedge and the 9-iron. My average clubhead zip with a 9-iron is 70 mph, compared to my pitching wedge’s 68 mph.


Which Club Hits More Often?

A 9-iron hits a golf ball farther than the higher spinning pitching wedge. I use the shorter iron to reach 120 yards on a green. I can produce 108 yards with a pitching wedge.

The ball rolls marginally farther than the wedge due to the extra spin of the 9-iron. I can swing a driver at 87 to 90 mph, which is about the same speed as an average golfer.

A driver with a swing speed of around 80 mph can send a 9-iron approximately 9 feet further than a pitching stick. Additionally, a swing speed of 70 mph can produce 12-yards more than a wedge.


When to Use Each Club


Approach Shots

The most common way to swing a 9 iron is when you are playing short approach shots from the fairway.

These strikes are for slow- to medium swingers and range from 79 to 112 yards. These are the shots where you should attack the flag and try to position yourself for an easy birdie.

Par 3 Tee Shot

A 9-iron may be a good option for a short par 3. Below is a video of me hitting a 9-iron off a par.

My local course has a 7th hole with an unusual layout. The tee box is directly surrounded by towering blue gum trees. To clear the canopy, you will need to quickly raise the ball. To illustrate, I have attached a clip of a recent shot at this hole.

Don’t get too comfortable with these short holes because they do not come around every day.

Place it

You’ll find that a 9-iron is a suitable option for lay up shots. These are essential when you want to avoid a water hazard and bunker. The spin and high trajectory help to land your ball softly and reduce the chance of it rolling into trouble.

Bump and Run Shots

The 9-iron has a stronger loft, making it an attractive choice for those who want to run or bump from the fringe of green.

It launches lower than a gap wedge, sand, pitching or lob and generates higher ball speed. These characteristics allow you to run the ball higher than usual, reducing bounce and the risk associated with it.

Pitching Wedge

Approach Shots

For full swings, the average golfer will use a pitching wedge between 73 to 109 yards. You can stick the ball closer to the cup thanks to the high launch and backspin. A full pitching shot is like your 9-iron. The ball will likely stop quickly so be aggressive and attack it with your pitching shot.

Lay up

I explained what a “lay-up” is above. The pitching tool, similar to a 9 iron, is an excellent choice for this shot. It’s an ideal way to produce an accurate, controlled shot, positioning yourself optimally for the next strike.

Pitch Shot

A pitching wedge can be used for pitch strikes. These are short shots where the golf ball is able to fly faster than it rolls. These shots can be played on slower greens when the goal is to quickly get the ball up to a cup and stop it.

You can still play a pitch shot using a gap or sand wedge, but a pitching stick allows you to do it from further out.

Chip Shot

For greenside chip shots, golfers will use a lofted wedge that is higher than a sand or lobby in perfect conditions. A pitching wedge is also possible. This was the first club I chipped with and it did everything I asked.

A chip shot rolls faster than it flies. The pitching wedge has a stronger loft, which allows for more speed and runs to get the ball to its cup.

The wedge is safe and can be used to chip out of the trees. The shorter shaft allows you to control the club better and strike the ball in its middle to get it out the woods. To reduce the chance of it being thrown into the branches, place the ball on the back foot.

Clearing Trees

When I was driving my drive onto parallel fairway, I thought about this. I was blocked by trees from the right fairway to my ball. There were very few gaps for me.

My pitching wedge was a great help. I was able to lift my ball with ease over the canopy thanks to its weak loft and high launch.

Fairway Bunkers

A sand wedge is a great option for greenside bunker shots. If your ball is in a fairway bunker, I suggest pulling out a pitching wedge and launching the ball high into the sky, then getting it back in play.

This depends on where your ball is located in the bunker. In extreme cases, you might need a sand wedge or lob wedge to escape.