Fill the Gap: Why you Need an Approach Wedge

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Evaluation of your wedges is a must if you want quick shots off your scorecard.

Most golfers mindlessly hit long irons on the range thinking it’s the key to lower scores. But even the best players in the world don’t hit a ton of greens from 150+ yards (or hit it close to the pin when they do). Working on long range shots isn’t the key to scoring lower.

Instead, you should work on shots within 125 feet. This is the scoring zone. It is statistically the fastest way to improve. 

The problem for a lot of golfers though is that they don’t have the right equipment for these shots. Most golfers only have a handful of wedges and end up with wedges that fall between a pitching wedge or sand wedge.

Instead of trying to hit a hard SW or easy PW, make golf more enjoyable by adding an approach wedge. An approach wedge can help you hit it closer between 100-125 yards. It can also help with many shots around green.

Continue reading to learn more about approach-wedges, how they work, and other game tips. 

Approach Wedge – What is it?

An approach wedge can be described as a club that fills in the gap between your pitching skills and the sand wedge. This is why the term approach wedge was coined. Gap wedge. It’s also called a utility wedge or attack wedge as well. 

Approach Wedge Lofts

Depending on the manufacturer of the club, an approach wedge loft can range from 49 to 54 degrees. What’s great about approach wedges is that they are easy to hit, making them a no-brainer for almost every type of golfer.

These clubs can also reduce your distances on the green. They help with a full power swing where your PW is too much club and your SW isn’t enough.

This wedge can be used to put a wedge around the greens for all kinds of shots. These clubs are much easier to hit than a LW and can be used for a variety shots. 

Approach Wedge Distance

How far should you go to hit a gap wedge? 

According to Trackman GolfThe pitching wedge of PGA Tour professionals is approximately 136 yards. LPGA players hit their pitching stick at 107 yards. They dont provide exact distances for sand wedge, gap wedge, or lob wedge.

But it’s safe to assume that PGA players hit it anywhere from 120-140 yards on average. While scratch golfers hit it 110-125 yards, the average golfer hits them 80-100 yards.

Distance is ultimately determined by your swing speed and the loft of your golf club. It’s not about how far you hit a gap wedge but instead, finding the perfect distance between your SW and PW. 

Learn how to hit the delicate wedge shot from 50 to 75 yards.


Approach Wedge vs. Pitching Wedge

You might be thinking: “What is the difference between an approach and pitching wedge?” 

A pitching wedge has less loft that an approach wedge.

Depending on the manufacturer, a PW loft can vary from 41 to 48 degrees. Modern pitching wedges have higher lofts than ever before.

For example, cavity back irons and game improvement irons are more forgiving and have pitching wedges that have less loft (43-45°). Higher-end iron sets have more loft in their pitching wedge (46-48 degree). 

Click here to see our complete guide on pitching wedge loft.  

The Right Gap Wedge 

A gap wedge is unique in that a lot of iron sets don’t come with a gap wedge. Most iron sets come with a gap wedge, although some sets offer it. You can also purchase a gap-wedge that matches your lob and sand wedge.

For example, let’s say you play Callaway Rogue ST Max irons and JAWS wedges. There are two choices:

  • Match your iron set with a GW. This club will match the rest of your irons and have the perfect loft to compliment your pitching wedge. Due to its larger design, the shaft is the same weight as a separate wedge and tends to travel further than a separate one. The loft is 46 degrees, while the loft for PW is 41 degrees. 
  • Match your wedge set with a GW. You can also buy a JAWS gap-wedge that matches your lob and sand wedge. This club is less forgiving since it doesn’t have a cavity back design. You can choose from 48, 50 or 52 degrees lofts. 

I believe that many golfers would be more satisfied if they bought an approach wedge that matches their irons. This will ensure the shaft is the same as your irons and more forgiving too. While more advanced ball strikers can choose either option as it’s more personal preference. 

Here are the top wedges for high handicappers. 

Approach Wedge Bounce 

Approach wedges should also be considered the bounce of the club. Bounce is usually the second number stamped on wedges. For example, you might see 52.10 – which means the club has 52 degrees of loft and 10 degrees of bounce.

Gap wedges tend to have 10-12 degrees of bounce which is why they’re such versatile golf clubs. You can adjust the loft of your wedges by bending them. However, your bounce will also change. 

According to the general rule, wetter and firmer conditions will require more bounce. Good turf contact is dependent on the leading edge. Click here to find out more about wedge bounce


FAQs about Gap Wedges

Do you have questions about approach wedges? Or do you want to know what wedges you should have in your bag? Continue scrolling to find out more about approach wedges and which wedges you need for your short game.

What is an approach wedge good at?

A gap wedge can be used for many shots, including:

  • Full swing shots: If you’re in between a sand wedge distance or pitching wedge, a gap wedge is the perfect solution.
  • Long bunker shotsA gap wedge is useful for tough bunker shots that are between 15 and 30 yards in length. Because it has less loft, it should travel further and roll more once it hits the green. This is a great time to play a chunk, run where the ball hits the green, and then roll like a putt. 
  • Chip shotsA GW is also great for simple bump-and-run shots around the green. It can be used from the rough or the short grass to aid in shots that have lots of space between the flags and the edge of green. 

Overall, it’s a very versatile club that is used by all types of golfers. 

What is the equivalent of an approach wedge?

A wedge approach has a loft of 49-54 degrees. It has a higher loft than a pitching or sand wedge, and a lower loft.  

Do pros carry gap wedges?

Yes, many PGA Tour players use gap wedges.

Most professionals carry three, if not four wedges and their club setup can change based on the course they’re playing at. It’s not uncommon for players to have wedges with different loft and bounce based on the playing conditions. 

According to Golf.comThis club setup is used to approximately 80% of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

  • Pitching wedge 
  • 50-52 degree gap wedge
  • 56 Degree Sand Wedge 
  • 60° lob wedge

Because they hit them more than irons, players at this level need four wedges. They need more wedges because they are so far off the tee. 

If you’re a longer hitter as well, you should definitely add a fourth wedge so you don’t have any distance gaps. 

Is an Approach wedge the same as a Gap Wedge?

Yes, an AWA is the same thing as a GW. Both names can be interchanged, but they serve the same purpose. It serves as the club between your pitching or sand wedge. 

How can I tell which wedge I should use?

This is a great question as it’s easy for new players to get confused on which club to hit for which shot. Here are some things beginners should know:

  • Distance. If it’s a longer shot, you want to base your decision off of total distance based on how far you carry each wedge.
  • Lie. Is the ball in fairway or rough? By determining the lie you can figure out if the ball will jump from a flier lie or if it’s nestled down and need to club up. 
  • Green to work with. If you’re evaluating shots around the green, you want to consider how much room is between the edge of the green and the pin. If you’re short sided, you will need more loft (likely a sand wedge or lob wedge) to help the ball up and land quickly. You can play a bump-and-run type of shot with a GW/PW for longer shots. 

This process will become easier as you get more experience. You might eventually consider wind, firmness of greens, grain, or other criteria in order to select the right wedge. 

Find out more about pitching vs. chipping here. 

Do I need a gap wedge? 

Yes, I believe every player should have a wedge. A wedge can make it easier to play the game and help you score lower.

If you have three wedges, it makes more sense for higher handicap golfers to have a GW instead of a Lob Wedge. While a lob wedge is a great club, it’s not ideal for high handicap golfers. 

An approach wedge, which is easy to hit, is great for full shots and knockdown shots as well as scrambling around the green. 

What does G stand for on a golf clubs green?

A “G” tends to stand for gap wedge (also GW). Other abbreviations include UW or AW. 

Final Thoughts on Adding an Approach Wedge

Advanced players and beginners alike will find the approach wedge (or gap wedge) a valuable club tool. It is important to have the right tools and a variety of wedge options in your scoring clubs. This makes it easier to win.

This lower loft wedge can be helpful with:

  • Pitch shots
  • Bunker play
  • Greater consistency
  • Greater distance control (with half shots or full swings)

If you don’t have an approach wedge yet, find one as soon as possible as it can help with so many shots. Whether you’re a 9 or 29 handicap, you can benefit from a gap wedge. 

If you have an approach wedge already, make sure it has the correct loft between your SW (or PW) and your SW. You will be able to swing with more confidence and avoid any distance gaps if your approach wedge is spaced properly. Be aware that bending your wedges can affect the bounce. 

Finally, I think most golfers (besides low handicappers) would benefit from an AW that matches your iron set vs. buying a Titleist Vokey or other more advanced wedge. 

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