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

Having an in-depth understanding of the clubs in your bag can make all the difference in your output on the course and in you smashing your golfing goals; let’s get your game where you want it to be and talk all things pitching wedges.

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

  • What Is A Pitching Wedge?
  • What to Expect from Your Pitching Wedge
  • Pitching Wedge Loft / Degree
  • 4 Tips to Assess Conditions Using a Pitching Wedge

Let’s drive on!

Pitching Wedge Guide golfer on buggy swinging club

What Is A Pitching Wedge? 

The pitching wedge is one of the higher-lofted irons you can have in your bag.

It is usually relied on for longer target lines where height and spin aren’t necessarily key to your shot’s success.

The pitching wedge allows your ball to fly lower and spin for longer distances, allowing you to pick up yards as you go. 

What To Expect From Your Pitching Wedge 

Let’s take a closer look at the pitching wedge so you can walk away with a complex, full understanding of what pitching wedges are truly capable of!

golfer with pitching wedge ready to play

Pitching Wedge Loft 

In comparison to the other wedges, you’ll find in your bag—the gap and sand wedges—your pitching wedge has a lower degree of loft, sitting at between 44-48°. 

The pitching wedge’s loft is particularly useful because it’s intended to give you a competitive amount of distance through a low flight while encouraging ball spin without having too much.

The type of loft approach that your pitching wedge offers is ideal for shot selections like punch or bump-and-run shots, among others. 

Pitching Wedge Shaft Type 

Most pitching wedges come with either steel or graphite shafts, though their make can vary depending on manufacturers. 

Steel Shafts: the most common type of shaft used in pitching wedges and other irons. 

  • Durable with a consistent performance
  • The heavier weight helps you maintain control and that ‘sweet-spot’ feel over your swing

Graphite Shafts: a lighter alternative to steel, most commonly seen in drivers and fairway woods (can be found in pitching wedges as well)

  • Increased clubhead speed thanks to the lightweight frame; perfect for golfers with a slower swing 
  • Improved distance with stellar flex and feel 
golfer lining up pitching wedge shot

Pitching Wedge Distance

In general, most golfers can expect to hit a pitching wedge shot more than 100 yards.

Professional golfers and low-handicap amateurs may hit their pitching wedge shot distances closer or even above 120 yards, while recreational golfers and beginners may shoot closer to 80 yards. 

Pitching Wedge Bounce 

Bounce refers to the angle between the leading edge of the clubface and the lowest point on the sole of the club.

Pitching wedges typically have a moderate amount of bounce ranging from 4 to 10 degrees. This kind of moderate bounce is well-suited for a variety of conditions and shot types. 

The Pitching Wedge Finish

When it comes to finishing in the products and materials department, you can find pitching wedges in everything from black nickel to beryllium copper or nickel-coated.

Mostly, the finishing verges on the cosmetic and, for the most part, just impacts the overall aesthetic of the club.

golf ball in rough with pitching wedge club

The Pros & Cons of Pitching Wedges

ProsCons
Beginner Friendly: easy to hit with a welcoming, forgiving touch due to a clean, cavity-backed design and flat face (i.e., expanded sweet spot)  Traditionalists Beware: at times, the generally oversized profile may throw off golfers with a feel for the classics
Contact: minimized club vibrations through full or half swings when compared to other wedgesHeight: oftentimes not high enough to clear bunker lips or trees
Control: get a better handle on your club thanks in part to the benchmark shorter shaft length with wedge flex and a higher loft angle.
Versatility: compatible with a range of shot types while also sporting a moderate bounce and distance-length
Launch: adaptable launching, where some can optimize spin for greater distance, while others opt for a higher launch angle and, thus, better-stopping power
golfer swing pitching wedge onto fairway

Pitching Wedge Conditions – 4 tips

For deciding on when to use a pitching wedge, it’s important to first assess the given playing conditions, your play style, and your target line to the cup. Here are some tips on the conditions to keep in mind and the positioning pitching wedges thrive in: 

  • Tip #1 – Assess The Lie: What kind of obstacles could get in the way of your shot? If your ball is in the rough or a bunker, you may need to use a club with a higher loft angle, such as a sand wedge or lob wedge, to get the ball out.
  • Tip #2 – Swing Style: How fast can you hit from a full swing? If you have a slower swing speed, you may benefit from a club with a higher loft angle (i.e., pitching or sand wedge), as it can help you get the ball up in the air. If you have a faster swing speed, a club with less loft may be more appropriate. 
  • Tip #3 – Course Conditions: What’s the weather and course like? If the greens are firm and fast, you may need to use a club with less loft to keep the ball from bouncing too much.
  • Tip #4 – Distance Check: A pitching wedge is typically used for approach shots from around 100 yards or less. If you need to hit the ball further than this, you may need to use a different club, such as a 9-iron or a hybrid.
golfer walking on fairway with golf clubs

Now that you’ve assessed your surroundings, swing style, as well as your target line, let’s take a look at the ideal shot types for your club and specifically when to use a pitching wedge:

When To Use A Pitching Wedge: 5 Scenarios

Pitching Wedge Scenario #1: Fairway Shots

A Pitching Wedge Can Be Used For Shots From The Fairway, particularly If You’re Looking For Distance With Added Stopping Power.

Because pitching wedges are designed for shorter shots than other distance-driven, longer irons clubs in your bag, they can be easier for you to control and perform with greater accuracy.

Pitching Wedge Scenario #2: Approach Shots

With its high loft angle, the pitching wedge can help you get the ball up in the air and land it softly on the green for accurate, repeatable approach shots. 

Consider how far you can get to the hole before landing on your club; a pitching wedge is best for longer, clear approaches from a full to a half swing.

Pitching Wedge Scenario #3: Chipping and Pitching

When you need to hit a shot that travels a shorter distance but has a higher or lower trajectory, your pitching wedge is an excellent choice. 

What’s more, your pitching wedge can be sort of the pocket knife for controlling chip and pitch distances.

golf balls

Try varying the length of your backswing and follow-through; you can adjust the distance that the ball travels here and, with practice, can continue making accurate, dependable chip shots. 

Pitching Wedge Scenario #4: Pin at The Back

If the pin is at the back of the green, you’ll have a greater sense of room for a lower shot that rolls more than it launches. In this case, a pitching wedge is the best choice. 

For this scenario, a pitching wedge will be much easier to adjust and control in order to keep your ball rolling and get you closer to the cup; keep your stroke simple and relaxed, as if you’re putting.

Pitching Wedge Scenario #5: Bunker Shots

If you’re further from the hole, it best to steer away from the sand wedge’s 70-yard average distance and aim for a pitching wedge; a shorter swing will still give you a competitive, longer distance and high loft. 

For pitching wedges, in this case, ensure the bunker’s lip isn’t too high, as this will make it harder for you to get your ball up and over onto the rough. Also, keep in mind your shot from a pitching wedge will require a lot more power amidst the sand

bunker shot with pitching wedge golf club

Pitching Wedge Golf Club FAQs

Can You Use A Pitching Wedge As A Sand Wedge? 

You can use a pitching wedge as a sand wedge, just like you can use a 9 or 7-iron in a sand trap as well.

The problem with using a pitching wedge in a bunker or in the sand is going to be inconsistency; clearing the lip and getting off a decent shot in the sand may be difficult for inexperienced, high-handicap players. 

Should I Chip With A Pitching Wedge? 

Yes, you should chip with a pitching wedge. Pitching wedges have a higher loft angle than other irons, which allows you to get the ball up in the air quickly and create longer ball flight with some added flex and forgiveness to the touch. Pitching wedges also offer greater distance control and versatility for precise, accurate chip shots.

golf course green sunny afternoon

Pitching Wedge Takeaways 

By understanding how and when to use a pitching wedge, you’ll be able to make better shot selections and adapt to the real-time, changing conditions you’ll find on any given day on the green.

With enough practice and persistence, you’ll notice a welcomed improvement to your game via the consistency, versatility, and shot characteristics of your pitching wedge. 

Yes, the trusty pitching wedge is a vital, necessary part of any golfer’s bag, whether you’re an amateur or an aspiring pro!

Now, let’s take a look at Gap Wedges!

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, Clint moved back to Toronto, Canada, where he turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. He 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 Clint made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, he was the Lead Teaching Professional at Toronto's busiest golf instruction facility. Since then, Clint has stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus more on the fun side of the game. He now enjoys helping golfers choose the right equipment through valuable testing and research and improving their game by raising their golf IQ. Ironically, he plays more golf now than he ever did when working at a golf course.

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