What Is An Approach Wedge & How Do You Use one? (+5 Types Of Wedges and Their Lofts)

Why are there so many different types of wedges? How many wedges should I carry in my bag and should an Approach Wedge be one of them?

More than 50% of your shots every round come from within 100 yards of the green – your wedge gapping strategy can save you or cost you strokes.

The correct answer will be different for different players. It depends on your strengths and weaknesses. How comfortable are you hitting wedge shots at 50% or 75%?

Today we will help you determine if you need to add an Approach Wedge to your bag, and cover the following:

  • What Is An Approach Wedge?
  • How & When Do You Hit an Approach Wedge?
  • What Are The Other Wedge Options? (And What Lofts Do They Have?)
what is an approach wedge and its loft

What Is An Approach Wedge?

The Approach Wedge is a relatively new club on the golf market. The idea has been around for a long time, but they have only been available in sets for the last 20 years or so.

The Approach Wedge is also known as a Gap Wedge. The idea is that it fills the gap in yardage between your Pitching Wedge and your Sand Wedge.

The loft of an iron controls how far you will hit that club. For example, your 7-iron has 34 degrees of loft and your 6-iron has 30 degrees of loft.

These numbers will vary slightly depending on the brand of club you are using, but the idea is the same. The difference in irons is 3-4 degrees of loft.

So, why is the Approach Wedge referred to as a Gap Wedge? A typical Pitching Wedge has 48 degrees of loft and a Sand Wedge has 56 degrees of loft.

golf ball in rough about to be hit with an approach wedge

This creates a gap of 8 degrees – this is larger than the gap between other clubs in your bag. It only makes sense to create a Gap Wedge with a loft of 52 degrees.

Over the years, golf companies started to market the Gap Wedge as an Approach Wedge. You may see wedges with a “G” or an “A” on them. This means the same thing.

Titleist Vokey wedges simply have the loft on them and you select your lofts to have the correct wedge gapping.

How & When Do You Hit an Approach Wedge?

The Approach Wedge can be used in several different ways during your round. Use your practice time to develop these different shots.

Full Shots & Approach Shots

We often use our wedges to hit approach shots to the green.

If you hit your Pitching Wedge 130 yards and your Sand Wedge 100 yards, it makes sense to use your Approach Wedge from 115 yards.

Pro Wedge Tip: Try to avoid swinging hard at your wedge shots – With this in mind, we would use your Approach Wedge from 95 – 110 yards.

Golfer using an approach wedge to get the ball onto the green

Chip Shots Around The Green

One of the biggest differences between a scratch golfer and a high handicapper is short-game diversity.

The Approach Wedge can be a useful club to get up and down and save par.

We call the shot a “spin and release” chip. It is perfect when you have a lot of green to work with on a chip.

Grab your approach wedge, put the ball back in your stance, push your hands forward, and make a short chipping stroke (similar to a putting stroke).

The ball will come off the club low to the ground, it will spin, and then release to the hole.

golfer about to do a chip shot near the green using approach wedge

Long Greenside Bunker Shots

Most golfers use their Lob Wedge or Sand Wedge to escape from a sand trap, but there are times you would be better off using an Approach Wedge.

If your ball finds a trap that is close to the green, but a long way from the pin, try using your approach wedge.

The shot will come out lower with less spin. This means you can swing easier and still get the ball to the hole.

lady golfer using an approach wedge from a bunker

What Are The Other Wedge Options? (And What Lofts Do They Have?)

We have spent time discussing the Approach Wedge, but are the other wedge options? Here is a quick list of what you might encounter:

  • Pitching Wedge Loft: 48 degrees of loft
  • Approach Wedge Loft: 52 degrees
  • Sand Wedge Loft: 56 degrees
  • Lob Wedge Loft: 60 degrees
  • “Super” Lob Wedge Loft: 64 degrees (made popular by Phil Mickelson)

Yes, in theory, you could carry 5 different wedges in your bag! The problem is that the rules of golf state you can only carry 14 total clubs.

The choices you make when you decide what clubs to bring to the course will impact the numbers on your scorecard.

variety of golf wedges including approach wedge

4 Tips To Build Your Bag: Find The Perfect 14 Clubs!

14 sounds like a big number, but you will be forced to make some decisions. How many fairway woods? Hybrids or long irons? How many wedges?

We can help you make the right call – let’s get started!

#1: Do You Have Any Big Gaps?

We started off this article talking about Approach Wedges and gaps – Our first tip is that you should assess the size of yardage gaps between your clubs.

The normal gap between two clubs is 10-15 yards. For example, you hit your 8-iron 140 yards and your 7-iron 155.

As you go through your set of clubs, do you have any gaps that are much larger or smaller?

Why do you care if a gap is smaller? There is no reason to carry two clubs that both go the same distance. You don’t need a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid.

This type of gap assessment is a great way to determine where you need to make a change in your “perfect 14” lineup.

a selection of clubs including approach wedge

#2: Multi-Purpose Clubs Are Great

When you play golf you will encounter unique shots that require different clubs.

Do you have any clubs that you use in more than one situation? If so, they are more valuable to your “perfect 14” than “one trick ponies”.

For example, you might have a hybrid that is great out of the rough, can be used off the tee on tight par 4s, and can be used to hit bump-and-runs around the green.

A club that can do more than one thing should always stay in your bag.

ball in the rough in ideal place for using approach wedge

#3: Do You Carry A Club That You Rarely Use Or Don’t Trust?

After each round of golf, you should take 5 minutes to assess how you played. Did you hit the ball well? Did you putt well?

Add one more step to this process. Did you carry clubs in your bag that you didn’t use?

This will happen sometimes, but if you have clubs that you rarely hit, why are you carrying them? You could take them out and add more valuable options.

The other question you should ask yourself is – do you have a club in your bag that you hate? That you are scared to hit?

If you don’t feel comfortable hitting a 3-iron, why waste a spot in your bag with it? Take it out and add another wedge (maybe an Approach Wedge).

To hit great golf shots you must swing with confidence. You can’t do this if you hate the club you are holding.

golfer getting out the bunker using an approach wedge

#4: Consider The Course You are Playing

You don’t have to use the same 14 clubs every time you play. You should consider the course you are playing and pick the clubs that will work the best for the layout.

Professional golfers do this every week. If the course has high rough, they might add a hybrid, but if is a short course, they might replace the hybrid with an extra wedge.

Do you like to use a driving-iron on tight par 4s? Leave it at home if the course you are playing has wide fairways.

Learn to be strategic with the 14 clubs you carry and you will have an advantage over your golf buddies. It might be the difference between winning or losing your side bet.

Does an Approach Wedge make sense for you?

Up Next: Deep Dive On Wedge Gapping

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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