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Sand vs. Pitching Wedge: Differences, Pros & Cons, When to Use

Sand vs. Pitching Wedge: Differences, Pros & Cons, When to Use

Golfers now carry more wedges because of the changes in lofts. It’s hard to find a golfer without a sand wedge and a pitching wedge in their bag. Some golfers are not familiar with how to use these wedges.

Did you ever stand over a golf club and not know which sand or pitching wedge to use? We have all the answers for you if you have.

As much as I love my sand wedge, I’ve been using my pitching wedge more and more. If you are in the right situation, you will love the simplicity of a pitching shot.


Table of Contents

  • Overview of a Sand Wedge & Pitching Wedge
  • There are some differences between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge
  • Pros and cons of a Sand Wedge
  • Pitching Wedge: The Pros and Cons
  • When to Use Each Club

Overview of a Sand Wedge & Pitching Wedge

The pitching wedge is the club that bridges between the wedge and the irons in the bag. With the loft of a pitching wedge, it’s easy to get a golf ball up in the air, and it happens to be one of the most forgiving irons in the bag.

Sand wedges are often regarded as the best club to use to escape from a bunker. The sand wedge can do so much more. A sand wedge allows you to hit high-lofted approach shots, spin your chips and pitches, and can even become a very precise short game player.


There are some differences between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge

The basic concept of a pitching and sand wedge are the same. These clubs are designed to get the ball near the hole and help you score lower. There are clear differences in the design of these clubs, which can impact overall playability.


The standard loft of a pitching wedge will vary based on the manufacturer. The pitching wedge’s loft can vary from 43 to 47 degrees. For lower handicap players, the loft will be higher, with less forgiveness and a bit more playability.

The loft will be lower for those with higher handicaps to encourage total distance. The club will be more accommodating, have a lower center-of-gravity, and be easier to hit straight.


The pitching wedge is typically slightly longer than a sand wedge. A pitching wedge encourages a bit of extra distance; it could be as much as 20 yards difference between the sand wedge and the pitching wedge, depending on the club’s specifications.

Shaft Differences

Many pitching sticks have a shaft that matches the iron sets. The sand wedge is often equipped with a wedge flex shaft which is not compatible to the rest. This is why it’s important to get custom fittings done and understand what goes into getting your clubs to have consistent performance.

Grooves & Spin

A pitching wedge and the sand wedge have grooves that help a golfball stop exactly where you want it to.

Sand wedges have a more compact groove structure and often the grooves themselves are deeper. Deep grooves allow for more debris to be channeled away from your face, making it easier to stop the ball from hitting the green.

Club Head Shaping

The pitching wedge is more likely than the irons in your set to match it. The sand-wedge is often more like a blade.

I like the blade-style sand wedges, and I don’t mind that they look different than the irons in the set. The blade style allows me to be more aggressive on some shots and gives me confidence in my short game.

The sand wedge design improves overall trajectory on short shots, and eliminates chunking or digging.


Pros and cons of a Sand Wedge

Now that you have a better idea of what a sand wedge is and how it differs from a pitching wedge let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of the sand wedge.


  • Ideal for quick shots around the green
  • One of the most luxurious clubs in the bag
  • Clean leading edge
  • Even without taking a full-swing, you can still spin high levels
  • It can be one among the most precise golf clubs you have.


  • The least forgiving golf club in your bag
  • Distance capabilities are not exceptional
  • If the grass and course conditions are not ideal, it can be difficult to get clean.


The pros and cons of a Pitching Edge

The pitching wedge is and will always be my favorite golf club. Because you can do so many things with the pitching wedge, it is one of my favorite clubs to teach golfers. Pitching wedges can help you avoid trouble, improve your consistency, and can be a great tool on the greens.


  • It is very easy to hit
  • High-lofted club to get players out of trouble
  • You can stop a golf ball from hitting the green with enough backspin
  • This is a great option for those who want to play bump and run golf shots
  • For versatility, match your irons with your wedges


  • It can be quite bulky, depending on what irons you have.
  • The pitching wedge loft is not often high enough to allow for a bunker shot.
  • Won’t have as much backspin as the highest-lofted clubs


When to Use Each Club

As you can see, both the pitching wedge (and the sand wedge) are important golf clubs. I would even go so far as to say that a set of golf clubs without the sand wedge and pitching wedge is incomplete. It can be difficult to know when to use each club.

Golfers can get too comfortable with one type of club and then overuse the others. Here are some of our favorite ways to use a pitching wedge and sand wedge.

high handicap bunker drills

Bunker Shots

Bunker shots require the ball be a bit higher in air. This is why I only recommend using a bunker sand wedge. The wider sole of sand wedges makes it easier to retrieve a ball from the sand.

The bounce of the sand wedge cuts through turf well, encouraging a higher ball flight as well as the ability to get the ball on the green.

Elevated Green

A club with more loft is needed for elevated golf greens. When I’m hitting a chip or a pitch to a hole higher than me, I’m more likely to use a sand wedge.

Although I do recommend that you analyze the lie and have confidence in the shot, a elevated green is definitely a better option.

Sometimes if you use the pitching wedge in this situation, the ball won’t make it up to the green, and it could even roll back down and further from the hole.

Pin in The Back – Ball at The Approach

If a pin is at the back of the green you will have more room to hit a lower shot, which rolls slightly less than it flies. A pitching wedge is a better choice in this situation. It’s much easier to control the shot, keep it rolling along the ground, and get the result closer to the hole.

I tend to hit this type shot by keeping the stroke simple. It almost feels like a putting stroke.

Greenside Bunker Shots Longer

The sand wedge is often the club of choice for shots from the sand. However this is only for the bunkers closest by the green. If you are further from the hole, the pitching wedge might be a better choice.

You can take a shorter swing and still get a better trajectory with the pitching wand. You should ensure that the bunker’s lip does not rise too high. This can cause problems when using the pitching tool.

what is a flyer in golf

Thick Rough

It’s very difficult to get the proper spin launch and control from golf wedges when you are hitting out of the rough. Rough can be a problem. It grabs the club, gets in your way of the grooves and dimples, and eventually causes you to lose accuracy.

The way that golf wedges have been designed means that the sand wedge manages the rough better than the pitching one.

In fact, sometimes, even when I’m hitting out of the rough, I can still get a ball to stop on the green when I use the sand wedge. I may have to plan for a little more rollout, but it’s still possible to stop it.

Thick rough can also cause problems with club head rotation, so the sand wedge is better suited for this situation.

Approach Shots

Both the pitching wedge and sand wedge can be used in approach shots. I like to consider how far I can get into the hole before choosing a golf club. I prefer the pitching wedge for longer approaches, while the sand wedge is best for shorter ones.

It is generally more sensible to keep the ball lower than it is higher. If there is no trouble between me, the pin, I will use a half swing with the pitching wedge rather than a full swing with the sand wedge.