Lob Wedges | What's the Deal?
Back when I started playing, there was no such thing as a ‘lob’ wedge. A pitching wedge and a sand wedge were the options.
However, would you putt with your driver? It’ll work, but that isn’t what it was designed for.
Ask me how I know…
I loved you, Scotty Cameron, but you lied like a cheap watch. I’ll buy you a new shaft soon.
Instead of using a club designed to hit out of the sand, manufacturers thought it would be a good idea to introduce wedges that were purpose-built for the job. They added loft and designed club faces to increase spin on the ball… Creating a range of wedges that gave golf players control over their distance.
You might also hear a lob wedge referred to as a ‘gap wedge’. The naming is apt, as the wedge was designed to fill the ‘gap’ between a relatively strong lofted sand wedge and your putter when you were near or around the green.
Ok, full disclosure. A lob wedge won’t be for everyone. But master using a wedge, and you’ll find that shots fall off your game.
️ - What is a Lob Wedge Used For?
There are a few uses for a lob wedge. About 90% of the time, you’ll be using it for shots around the green. 20 yards, 50 yards… All the way up to 120 yards are all situations where you might want to consider using a lob wedge.
Lob wedges are golf clubs that are used in an area known as your ‘short game’. They are designed to produce high spin and low bounce in your short shots. They are one of the most versatile irons in your bag and can be used with a full swing or much closer around the greens to produce delicate little ‘check’ shots or ‘bump and runs’.
️ - What Degree is a Lob Wedge?
The highest lofted I have seen was 72 degrees! But there is actually a range. You will see lob wedges with 56 degrees, 60 degrees, and 64 degrees! They all perform a similar function, but the degree increments will make your shot behave slightly differently.
The effect that your club has doesn’t just vary as a result of the degrees either. There are various technical elements in each piece of golf equipment that may or may not make them suitable for your game.
So now you know the answer to a few questions about the humble lob wedge, let’s take a deep dive with much more information.
️ - Who Should Use a Lob Wedge?
Everyone should try and master a lob wedge. As golf equipment goes, it is one of the most useful ‘tools’ in your bag, packed with versatility. With a golf club such as a driver, you can play one shot… Grip it and rip it, right?
With a putter, you are also sort of limited with your shots. But with a lob wedge, you give yourself real versatility when out on the course and around the greens. Master the lob wedge, and you’ll reduce the number of shots you take on the course.
If a driver is a howitzer, golfers should think of a lob wedge as a high-precision sniper rifle. You will be able to get shots from around the green closer to the hole, making for easier putts.
️ - Are Lob Wedges Difficult to Hit?
Honestly? Yes, and no. A lob wedge can sometimes be easy to hit. Here’s why: The loft.
Look at the degrees I talked about above. 60 degrees? 64 degrees? That’s a lot of loft. The effect of this loft is to add heaps of backspin to your shots. This removes unwanted side spin, so you’ll rarely see any ‘shape’ to your shots apart from up and down.
Sounds great, is there a catch? The downside is that wedges, as irons go, are pretty unforgiving and not great for high handicappers.
They rely heavily on promoting an excellent feel. So, you aren’t going to get the standard technology that you’ll find in irons, such as substantial cavity backs, inserts, and gadgets designed to create fast ball speeds and allowance for mishit shots.
If you find the middle often, the ball will definitely get some air. The counter to this is that hitting your shot off, say, the toe will lead to bad times.
When playing longer shots with a lob wedge, it tends to go one of two ways, often with little in between. Either you’ll hit a shot like a professional with lots of spins and a low bounce.
Or you’ll cut the ball (literally) and get something that hugs the ground and goes faster than Chuck Yeager on his wedding anniversary.
When Should I Use a Lob Wedge?
Generally, you should be looking to use a lob wedge when you are faced with any shot that requires a high degree of accuracy and ball placement.
You want examples?
Approach shots into the green are one of the main areas where lob wedges are unsurpassed. The high lofts get the ball into the air, and the high spin means that the ball will stop on the green quickly.
Flop shots are another key area. A flop shot is where you make anything up to a full swing, but the ball doesn’t go a great distance horizontally. Essentially it is a high and soft shot that is used when you are restricted in some way.
Yeah. You might not have a lot of green to work with, or there could be a bunker or obstacle between the ball and the hole. By crafting a shot where the bulk of the energy goes ‘up’ instead of ‘away’, you can stop that ball dead in its tracks exactly where you need to.
You might find that with a lob wedge, you can absolutely achieve everything you would normally with a sand wedge. In fact, it is even easier.
Because of the high lofts, you can easily get under the ball. In fact, for those horrible ‘fried egg’ lies, clubs with higher lofts allow you to take a full swing at the sand without fear of going overboard on the distance.
When Should I Use a Lob Wedge?
Ok, so you’ve been out and bought a club with a high loft and an edge like a surgeon’s blade, and you want to know how to use it? Let’s take a look at some shots and some general guidance.
Approach Shots with a Lob Wedge
If you are familiar with using a pitching wedge, then you’ll find that you can play your approach shots in the same way, using a lob wedge. The aim is to create a lot of spin and a high ball flight with a relatively soft landing. Now I’m not a professional, but here’s something that has always worked for me…
If you’ve gone for something with a high degree of loft, you don’t need to add any more.
Open faces and stances are fine if you are a professional. But for high handicappers and inexperienced players, this just increases the chance of hitting the ball thin. Buying a lob wedge is supposed to make life easier. So, make the club do the work.
- Hit the shot using your normal swing. No need to be ‘handsy’, no need to steepen your swing or try and hit ‘down’ on the ball either.
- Use the speed of your swing to determine the distance. Large distance, faster swing, reduce your swing speed as you get closer to the hole.
- Ball position is crucial. It should be around the center of your stance. Many new players think they have to put it further back to hit into the ball. This will lead to a ‘duffed’ shot with plenty of turf as you dig into the ground.
- If you are struggling for distance, go down in the loft. If you have another lob wedge great, if not, don’t try and hammer the ball. With high lofts, this will just make it fly higher, not longer.
To see a rundown of hitting perfect approach shots, check this guy out. He’s got lots of tips…
Flop Shots Using a Lob Wedge
Bunker in the way? Or just want to wow your golf playing partners? The flop shot is a useful skill to ‘carry around in your bag’. A high flight with a big swing that has a soft landing with plenty of spin.
The flop shot does rely on increasing the loft. You’ll need a wedge with at least a 60 degree loft. The face should be open with the sole as flat as possible to the ground. The lie is also important. Beginner players will find this shot much easier to play from a fluffy lie.
This shot aims to make a relatively fast and full swing that cuts under the ball with an open face. Because the loft is increased, you should achieve a high shot with plenty of backspin. I could try and describe the intricacies of this shot, or I could let a master show you.
Here’s the great Phil Mickelson showing the shot that he’s most famous for…
Bunkers | Escape the Sand
I’m going to tell you a secret.
Here’s the key to always escaping from a bunker…
One word… Loft.
The more loft you have on a wedge, the greater your chance of escaping the sand! Do you know which golf clubs have plenty of loft? No prizes if you said a ‘lob wedge’.
When it comes to playing out of the sand, there are a few things that you can do to ensure success: –
- Give yourself a stable base. This means burrowing your feet down into the stand in a nice wide stance.
- Use the loft! Remember what we just said? The more loft, the better the chance of escape. You want the face to be open. You could even consider aiming to the left of the target with your feet to create an out-to-in swing path too!
- Finally, Don’t try and hit the ball. The aim is to try and take a scoop of sand and the ball with it. Aim to hit about a golf ball behind the ball. Don’t scoop or chop down into the ground.
I’m a big believer in seeing something to learn. Check out a professional showing all of the points we’ve just mentioned.
What Should I Look For In A Lob Wedge?
Choosing the right wedge for you can be pretty tricky. Here are some things that I always look for when buying a wedge.
The loft is what sets these clubs apart, so it really pays to focus on it. Ask yourself, ‘where will I be using the lob wedge the most?’ Is it around the greens, playing longer shots, or escaping from bunkers?
When choosing the loft, think about other areas that you might want to use it too. It’s all good and well buying a low lofted wedge for longer shots. Still, if it means you can’t play that floaty flop shot that you’ve been keen to try, then it might be worth going up by a few degrees or purchasing a pair with a 4° gap.
Say that again… Into my good ear.
Bounce! If you don’t know what this is, I’m about to enlighten you.
Bounce is a measure of the angle between the leading edge of the club and the sole’s trailing edge. A bigger angle means the club will bounce when it hits the floor and not dig into the ground.
I prefer my wedges to have a big bounce, and new players should do the same as it prevents you from digging up a lump of turf when trying to imitate Phil Mickelson.
Milling and Grooves
One thing that you really want with a lob wedge is to generate lots of spin. Milling and grooves on the clubface make this happen. Look for features such as deep sharp grooves and texture on the face of the club.
What is the Best Lob Wedge for High Handicappers?
There are a few beautiful wedges out there that will easily allow you to play the shots that we have talked about, and maybe more…
Let’s have a quick run-through of wedges that are great for the price.
1. TaylorMade MG2 Chrome LB Wedge
If you've read some of our other club reviews, you'll know how highly we rate TaylorMade. Well, they offer the same quality in wedges.Read Our Full Review
2. Cleveland RTX-4 Mid Grind Tour Satin Wedge
You might have heard of the Cleveland launcher series of irons. Well, Cleveland is also famous for making top-class wedges!Read Our Full Review
3. Titleist Vokey SM8 Medium Grind S200 Steel Wedge
If you want to hit lob shots like the professionals, maybe you need something you'd find in their bag? This might not be the best for high handicappers, the bounce is really low, but that said, if you are looking to upgrade to something advanced, this will make a really solid choice.Read Our Full Review
If you've read some of our other club reviews, you'll know how highly we rate TaylorMade. Well, they offer the same quality in wedges.
This wedge is available in a range of bounce options and lofts. It features a 'raw' face to give you massive spin. It also includes an insert, which can be pretty rare when it comes to wedges. This will help in forgiveness and increase feel, which is just what you need in a wedge!
- Really Versatile
- Multiple lofts available
- Great spin
- Great forgiveness
- The club favors an open face. This won't be for everyone.
You might have heard of the Cleveland launcher series of irons. Well, Cleveland is also famous for making top-class wedges!
These lofty wedges offer top-class performance (and at a great price). The fourth-generation 'rotex' face, which is aggressively milled with super sharp grooves, ensures that the ball spins to its maximum.
- Super aggressive grooves
- High Spin
- Low glare finish
- I just wish there was a lower lofted version
If you want to hit lob shots like the professionals, maybe you need something you'd find in their bag? This might not be the best for high handicappers, the bounce is really low, but that said, if you are looking to upgrade to something advanced, this will make a really solid choice.
The spin-milled grooves are designed to give you heaps of spin. They are custom inspected by Titleist to make sure they are up to scratch! The wedges are available in several lofts and grinds, so if you want to get fitted for a wedge, it's well worth consideration?
- Really customizable with plenty of options
- Premium brand and quality
- High spin and accuracy
- The only downside I can really see is the price!
️ Frequently Asked Questions ️
That depends on the price of what you are looking for. I'd say a good amount is two. A 54° wedge will cover you for any shots on or around the 100 yard mark. Once you get down towards 50 yards, it pays to have something with a higher loft in your bag. A 60 degree angle is great for short shots.
If you don't have the space or funds for two wedges, this isn't a big deal. You could go-between for the best of both worlds. A 56-degree wedge will tick a lot of boxes and provide you with enough distance to play those longer full shots, but it will also be lofty enough for short shots too.
Looking at the numbers, the PGA pros hit their wedges all the way up to 130 yards! For you as a player, this depends very much on how fast you swing.
But I want to tell you something.
Wedges certainly are not about distance. The aim should be accuracy first, distance second.
All that said…
I find that I can comfortably hit my 60 degree wedge around 90 yards. I could really hit it hard and maybe get a little extra, but that isn't the aim with a wedge. It's all about control.
If you are wondering if it is too far for a wedge, here's what you do…
Club down. Simple!
Lob Wedge | Is it Worth the Risk…? Closing Thoughts.
One club, countless possibilities for different shots. If you asked me which club I thought was the best value and would offer the most in taking shots off the scorecard… I’d have a hard time deciding between the best putter or the best lob wedge. Anything that puts you closer to the hole with less effort is worthy of a tick in the box.
Is it worth the risk? Absolutely. Once you master your short game with a wedge, you’ll find that there’s actually very little risk involved, and you will have everything to gain.
I look forward to seeing you land a nice soft shot somewhere on a green soon!