The Complete Guide To The Gap Wedge: Loft, Degree, And When To Use It

When it comes to golf, having the right clubs in your bag can make all the difference in your game.

Just like a carpenter carries the correct tools in their tool belt, so should you have the right clubs at your disposal!

One club that, since the 1990s, has made a splash in the world of golf is the gap wedge.

Here, we’re taking a deep dive into this versatile, resourceful club, looking at:

  • What Is A Gap Wedge?
  • When Should You Use A Gap Wedge?
  • Gap Wedge Loft / Gap Wedge Degree,
  • The Benefits And Drawbacks Of The Gap Wedge,

Let’s tee off!

gap wedge guide golfer swinging

What Is A Gap Wedge? 

The gap wedge is a golf club that is designed to hit shots with a shorter distance and higher trajectory than a pitching wedge but with more control and spin than a sand wedge.

Gap wedges—a.k.a. approach wedges or attack wedges—are relied on by golfers who play close to the green while filling the space between your sand and pitching wedges. 

What To Expect From Your Gap Wedge 

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the specs, bringing you our in-depth analysis of gap wedges so you can know how they’ll impact everything from the long to the short game

Gap Wedge Loft 

When comparing it to its wedge cousins, the sand wedge and pitching wedge, a gap wedge has a loft of between 50-54°.

Meanwhile, your pitching wedge hits between a 44-48° loft, with sand wedge’s lofts falling between 54-58°.

This ‘gap’ in the loft arch is exactly where your gap wedge comes into play and where you can expect a more rounded, balanced wedge game from the front to the back 9. 

gap wedge and golf ball

Gap Wedge Shaft Type 

Shaft type can vary depending on the specific wedge and the golfer’s preference. Generally, gap wedges are available with either steel or graphite shafts.

Steel shafts tend to be heavier and offer a more solid feel at impact, which can be beneficial if you prefer a more traditional feel.

Graphite shafts, on the other hand, are lighter and can provide a softer touch, which is great for golfers who want a little more forgiveness and a higher launch.

Gap Wedge – Distance Range

Most gap wedges can hit at least 90 yards, depending on the swing speed, the loft and bounce of the wedge, the type of ball being used, and the conditions of the course itself.

Meanwhile, the average pitching wedge can hit above 105 yards in comparison to the sand wedge’s humble 70 yards.

Check out our golf wedge distance charts for more on typical wedge distances depending on your playing level.

close up of golf club and ball

Gap Wedge Bounce 

Bounce refers to the angle between the leading edge and the trailing edge of the wedge sole when resting on the ground.

A high bounce angle means that the sole of the wedge is more angled, while a low bounce angle means that the sole is flatter.

The bounce angle on a gap wedge can vary, depending on the specific wedge and the manufacturer, but it is typically between 4 and 10 degrees, a versatile bounce thanks to its bottom clubface. 

The Gap Wedge Finish

Gap wedges have a reliable finish for your ball to gain spin; the softer feel with a forgiving touch allows balls to finish with texture and produce a consistent spin. 

Over time, in my experience this texture will wear down with rust and the elements—though some clubfaces are designed with chrome and/or black oxide materials—which in turn, reduces spin. 

It’s important to maintain the integrity of your clubs by keeping a regular maintenance, repair, and cleaning schedule, whether that means you’re more of a DIY’er or prefer having them treated by professionals. 

golfer taking tee shot onto fairway

The Pros & Cons Of Gap Wedges 

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of a gap wedge club and why every serious golfer looking to improve and consistently hit their targets should have one in their bag: 

Versatility: can be used for longer greenside bunkers, short approach shots; works for the short and the long game Landing: not as soft, which means you should be prepared for a roll 
Accuracy: closes the gap between sand and pitching wedges Sweet Spot: blade style gap wedges offer a smaller sweet spot 
Spin & Bounce: higher rate and velocity than other wedges, allowing your ball to travel farther than before 
User-Friendly: a forgiving touch with graphite or steel shafting, perfect for golfers getting a feel for the ropes
golfer swinging gap wedge in distance

When To Use A Gap Wedge: 5 Scenarios

For considering when to use a gap wedge, it’s important to take into account the amount of green you’re working with, as well as your distance to the cup.

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • What’s the distance?—for longer shots, base your club selection on total distance and how far your wedge carries. 
  • Where does the ball lie?—the rough? The fairway? Are we aiming for a birdie or just trying to survive to make it to the next hole? Through determining the lie, you can judge which club to use based on a flier loft or if you need to club up. 
  • How much green are you playing with?—when to use a gap wedge considerations also come from evaluating the green and how much space you have to work with. Think about how much room is between the edge of the green and the pin. 
golfer swinging gap wedge

Now that you’ve assessed your playing conditions, here are some typical situations you should keep in mind for when to use a gap wedge: 

Gap Wedge Scenario #1: Approach Shots

If you are playing a hole around 100 yards away from the green, a gap wedge could be the right choice for your approach shot

Because your gap wedge is designed to hit shots from a specific distance range, it’s important to have precise distance control when using it for approach shots.

This means understanding how far you can hit the ball with the club and taking into account factors such as wind, elevation, and the lie. 

Gap Wedge Scenario #2: Chipping

If you need to make a short chip shot from just off the green, a gap wedge can help you get your ball up with a high loft degree while also having it stop it quickly; perfect for when you need a little more loft than a pitching wedge or 9-iron, but less than a sand wedge. 

When using a gap wedge, and like most chip shots, you’ll want to position the ball slightly back in your stance, closer to your right foot (vice versa for lefty’s).

This positioning helps you strike the ball first and create a crisp, clean contact through the clubface.

Meanwhile, a good chipping swing is usually shorter and more compact than a full swing, with less wrist hinge and a more stable lower body mechanic.

Focus on keeping your weight centered over the ball, and make a smooth, controlled swing with a shallow angle of attack.

giolf ball in air golfer taking shot

Gap Wedge Scenario #3: Pitching 

For when you have to pitch your ball over a bunker or other obstacle and onto the green, a gap wedge can help you get your ball high enough to clear the obstacle while also landing soft enough on the green to avoid backspin. 

Gap wedges are best used for pitching shots when you need more power to get over obstacles while also needing your ball to travel a greater distance to the cup than what a sand wedge allows. 

Gap Wedge Scenario #4: Bump & Run Shots 

In cases where you’re looking for your ball to roll out more than fly, a gap wedge is the ideal club of choice. 

Bump and run shots are usually leaned on by golfers when there’s a lot of green to work with, and they’re looking to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible.

However, if you have a lot of rough or other obstacles to navigate, a higher-lofted club like a sand wedge may be a better choice.

Gap Wedge Scenario #5: Full Shots 

Lastly, gap wedges can be used for full shots from shorter distances, like when you’re aiming to hit a shorter par 4 or lay up a par 5.

swinging gap wedge golfer

Gap Wedge Golf Club FAQs

When Should I Use A Gap Wedge?

For when to use a gap wedge, you should use it after considering the distance, lie, and green space you’re working with.

Generally speaking, gap wedges come into play when golfers don’t have enough power to get their ball closer to the hole from 90+ yards away.

Gap wedges are a versatile, multi-purpose club that can be used for approach shots, chipping, pitching, bump, and run shots, as well as full shots. 

Can You Bend The Loft & Lie Of A Gap Wedge?

Yes, you can bend the loft and lie on a gap wedge.

Most wedges are made from malleable steel or graphite materials which can take some minor adjustments and bending to their frame.

For bending the loft of your approach wedge, be wary of going overboard, as this will drastically affect your ball’s bounce; the greater the bend, the greater the bounce.

golfers watching the sunset holding gap wedge clubs

Gap Wedge Takeaways

In conclusion, the gap wedge is a valuable addition to any golfer’s bag.

This versatile, multi-purpose club can be used in a variety of situations, from approach shots to bump and run shots, from pitching and chipping to full shots from shorter distances. 

By understanding when and how to use a gap wedge, you can add more options and adaptability to your game, ultimately helping you make real-time, informed adjustments and perform better on the fairway.

With a little practice and patience, the gap wedge can become one of your most trusted clubs on any course and perhaps, bridge a gap in your game!

For a deep dive into other wedge types, check out our Sand Wedge and Pitching Wedge Guides!

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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