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

To take your game to the next level, a thorough understanding of the functionality and role of each club in your bag is essential; that’s where we come in: 

Here, we’re taking a closer look at :

  • what the sand wedge is,
  • what to expect from its mechanics – including the sand wedge loft and degree,
  • And when to use a sand wedge. 

Let’s dive right into our in-depth sand wedge golf club guide!

golfer hitting sand wedge from bunker

What Is A Sand Wedge? 

A sand wedge is a versatile, multi-purpose club designed for optimal strokes from soft lies surrounding the green.

Engineered with a rounded, wide sole meant to prevent your club from digging too far into the sand, your trusty sand wedge is made for clean contacts to help you out of troublesome, inconvenient spots around the course.

What To Expect From Your Sand Wedge

Before we get into when to use a sand wedge, we’re taking a closer look at it’s features for you to gain a well-rounded, extensive understanding of what a sand wedge is capable of:

What is the Loft on A Sand Wedge

The standard loft of a sand wedge typically falls between 54°-58°; your sand wedge is easily one of the highest lofted clubs in your bag. 

This high loft angle, along with the blade-like clubface, can result in an improved launch angle and backspin when your shot mechanics interact with the ball.

This allows you to get more aggressive with your swing and generate greater power

sand wedge action shot angle from bunker

A Tale of Two Sand Wedge Lofts – 54° vs. 56°

For loft in a 54 or 56 degree angle sand wedge, the biggest difference you’ll notice is in the distance your ball can travel; this 2 degree difference can top 10-15 yards of distance. The 56 degree sand wedge is a favorite of Tiger Woods.

For a 54 degree angle sand wedge, you’re mainly working with lower shots with less backspin; punch shots are perfect for this type of wedge as you want a lower ball flight to avoid obstacles like tree branches or intense winds. 

Sand Wedge Shaft Type 


A stiffer shaft on a sand wedge can help with distance control and your accuracy on full shots, while a softer shaft can provide more feel and control on shorter, finesse shots around the green; you could be using a lighter touch on your sand wedge with short-sided shots. 


Meanwhile, shaft length can impact your ability to control the sand wedge and hit accurate shots. Most sand wedges have a shorter shaft than other clubs in your bag, allowing for a more controlled and precise shot.

That said, you may prefer a longer shaft for added distance or to better fit your habitual, hard-earned swing mechanics.

sand wedge in bunker loft close up

Sand Wedge Distance

In terms of distance, you can expect your sand wedge shot to travel—at most—70 yards.

For low-handicap players, you could expect to hit as high as 100

In most cases, golfers use a sand wedge for shots that require a high trajectory and a short distance.

When playing from a bunker, it will “splash” the sand, causing your ball to propel out of the bunker and onto the green.

Sand Wedge Bounce 

The bounce you can expect will depend on various factors; factors like the design of the sand wedge, the angle of attack, and the conditions of the sand, for example. 

Bounce refers to the angle between the leading edge of the clubface and the trailing edge or sole of the club. 

A higher bounce angle will give you a better sense of swing forgiveness and prevent the club from digging too deep in the sand, while a lower bounce angle may be better for firmer sand or hardpan lies.

golfer hitting sand wedge shot from green side bunker

Tips To Get The Best Bounce

When playing a sand wedge shot, you’ll want to aim to hit the sand just behind the ball, using your club’s bounce angle to slide through the sand and lift the ball out of the bunker.

Your chosen angle of attack can also affect the bounce of your club. A steeper angle of attack will tend to reduce bounce, while a shallow angle of attack will usually increase it.

Sand Wedge Finish

For aesthetics, many sand wedges feature a sleek chrome or nickel finish, which can provide a classic, traditional look to your bag. Other sand wedge makers offer a matte or brushed finish, which is crucial in reducing glare and providing a durable, modern look. 

Another design feature that can affect the finish of a sand wedge is the shape of the clubhead.

Many sand wedges feature a C-shaped or U-shaped sole grind, which can improve your club’s overall versatility or allow you to hit a wider variety of shots from different lies.

bunker shot with sand wedge

The Pros & Cons Of Sand Wedges

Problem-Solving: gets you out of tricky situations, tough lies, and bunkers.Distance: expect to pick up 70 yards or less.
Forgiveness: wide sole and high bounce angle adds an extra layer of forgiveness and makes sand wedges more user-friendly.Firm Ground: If the ground is hard and firm, sand wedges may not be as effective due to the high bounce angle of the club.
Spin: increased spin with stopping power thanks to higher loft (reduces roll) 
Quick Shots: ideal for quick shots, chips, and pitches around the green because of its precision and clean leading edge
golfer striking ball with sand wedge

Sand Wedge Conditions

Before taking a look at the best shot opportunities for when to use a sand wedge, let’s have a look at your playing conditions, the lie, and your overall target line to determine if your sand wedge will do the trick:  

  • Lie: The lie of the ball is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on your club choice. Does the shot require a high loft angle? If so the sand wedge is the tool for the job.
  • Distance: If your shot requires a longer carry or more distance, another club may be better suited. However, if your shot is within 70 yards of the green and requires a high, soft touch, a sand wedge is going to be the ideal club.
  • The Green: Consider the size and slope of the green, as well as the position of the pin. If the green is small and the pin is close to the edge, a sand wedge is perfect for hitting a high, soft shot that will stop quickly on the green. 
lady hitting sand wedge from bunker

When to Use a Sand Wedge: 4 Scenarios

Now that you’ve looked it over and chosen your sand wedge as the best club for the job, here are some choice shot selections for when to use a sand wedge. 

Scenario #1: Bunkers

Sand wedges are designed for use in bunkers, and the high loft and wide sole can help you get the ball out of the sand and onto the green with enough bounce and forgiveness to embody stopping power, thereby reducing backspin. 

Scenario #2: Punch Shots

When you’re aiming for a punch shot, you want a trajectory that’s low and keeps your ball under the wind while still achieving a certain amount of loft to get your ball to the target. The sand wedge’s high loft angle strikes a good balance between these two needs.

What’s more, the sand wedge’s club bounce angle can help your stroke glide through the turf and prevent it from digging too much into the ground. 

This is especially helpful when hitting punch shots from thick rough, or wet conditions, where the grass can easily grab onto the clubface and cause you to miss-hit. 

Scenario #3: Elevated Green

When hitting a pitch or chip to a hole at an elevated green, you’re better off using a sand wedge. By using a sand wedge, you can create more spin on your ball, which in turn can result in your ball stopping quickly and staying closer to the hole and your target line. 

Scenario #4: Short Approach Shots

Sand wedges are ideal for short approach shots from within 70 yards of the green. They can provide the necessary loft and spin to get the ball high while giving it enough softness to allow it to stop quickly on the green.

Getting your ball to arrive at your target and stop quickly can help you control the distance of your shot effectively, leading to the prevention of earning higher scores and bogie holes. 

golfer and tutor hitting sand wedge shot from bunker


What Should I Look For When Buying A Sand Wedge?

When buying a sand wedge, you should look for the club that best aligns with your own individual preferences, skill level, and the types of courses you enjoy playing through. 

When choosing the best sand wedge for you, think about the clubhead size and the degree of loft in relation to your playing conditions. 

For instance, if you play on a course with softer sand, a higher bounce of 10-14° will be your best option; for courses with tighter fairways and tougher sand, lower bounces between 0-10° will suffice. 

The Complete Guide To The Sand Wedge: Loft, Degree, And When To Use It 1

How Do You Get A Perfect Sand-Wedge Shot From A Greenside Bunker? 

To hit a perfect shot from a greenside bunker, grab your sand wedge and swing like you would with any other bunker shot. 

That said, a greenside bunker shot is one of the only shots in golf where you’re not directly hitting your ball but the sand instead: begin by entering the sand a few inches behind your ball and allow the bounce of your clubface to slide underneath the ball; swing, and there you have it. 

Sand Wedge Takeaways 

The sand wedge is a versatile and essential club in a golfer’s bag. While it’s primarily designed for bunker shots, it can be used in a variety of situations where a high, soft shot is required. 

Knowing when to use a sand wedge can help you improve your game and lower your scores. By understanding your given playing situations and where a sand wedge can be used, you can make more informed decisions on the course and approach your shots with confidence.

For wedges more knowledge check out our Gap Wedge and Pitching Wedge Guides!

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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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