When you buy a regular set of irons, the combination starts from a 3 or 4 iron all the way up to a pitching wedge. Though it is called a wedge the PW is considered closer to a regular iron than the other clubs who carry the wedge moniker. The gap wedge (GW), sand wedge (SW) and the lob wedge (LW) are the true wedges, the highly specialized sub class of irons. You don’t often find them all sold together as part of an iron set.
They are sold separately or as part of a set of wedges. In this article, we will look at the characteristics that define a good lob wedge and look at some of the best lob wedges your money can buy. These include:
Like all wedges (and most short irons), a lob wedge is all about the short game. Once you are done with hitting booming drives and flat long shots that cover hundreds of yards of fairway space and reach closer to the green, that’s when you might find a lob wedge handy. They are useful when hazards like bunkers stand between you the green, since they have a very high loft and you can hit soft high shots that land with minimal bounce or carry.
Lob wedges have the shortest shafts and highest loft angles of any golf club. The modern nomenclature that defines wedges have advanced a lot beyond just strict definitions of PW, SW, GW and LW. These days, wedges are more often sold marked by their loft angles, like a “47 degree wedge”, “56 degree wedge” or a “60 degree wedge”.
If you see a wedge within a 56-64 degree loft angle, then you are looking at lob wedge. That is all you need to know to identify an LW. The closer you are to the 64 degree mark, you are entering the territory of an “ultra lob wedge”, (UL), used for extreme shots like those from the edge of a bunker. You can also get wedge above the 64 degree limit, but those are generally used by pros and called “x wedges”.
If you are a total beginner in golf with an extremely high handicap, then you might be better off ignoring the pure wedges like SW, LW, and GW. Wedges are generally considered specialized clubs and beginners are encouraged to focus on their drivers and irons early on before getting their hand on these. But once you familiarize yourself with the basic clubs in your standard golf clubset, you might want to get your hands on the specialized wedges to improve your short game. Then you are ready to get a lob wedge.
These wedge are most effective when you are facing a 40-45 yard distance between you and the green. Their high and arching shots are perfect to get the ball above and across any hazard that stands between you and the flagstick. Whether it is a tree, or a bunker, or just a downhill lie, a lob wedge is the ideal choice in those situations. You can even use it when faced with a super fast greens, since the ball will land without much bounce or roll at the of a shot.
Basically, if you are looking to improve your scores, you definitely need a lob wedge in your bag. The only caveat is your experience level. But as long as you are not a rank beginner on the course, you shouldn’t shy away from buying a lob wedge.
Generally, all specialized wedges have the same design elements are often sold as a set. When you are looking to buy a lob wedge, these are the common terms you might encounter:
Loft: as already noted, the closer you are to the 60 degree mark, your are in lob wedge territory. Anything near that loft degree should suit your purposes if you are looking for a wedge with a lob wedge like performance. Bear in mind the issue of gapping though, you want your wedges within a 4 degree range for optimal performance. For instance, if you have a 46 PW, your GW should be near 50, the SW 54 and the LW around the 58 degree mark for optimum spread.
Bounce: it is very important not to confuse this with the bounce of the ball. For a wedge, its bounce is the area on the underside of the clubhead that might get in contact with the turf/ground surface when you strike a ball. Bounces are specially designed at specific angles to prevent a wedge from digging into the turf or sand when a golfer swings it. This helps the wedge to transfer all the energy onto the ball and get a cleaner hit and a more powerful shot.
* 4 to 6 degrees bounce is considered as low bounce, and is suitable if you like sweeping your shots, or have link courses and bunkers with coarser sand
* 7 to 10 degrees is the medium bounce, the general option that suits a wide variety of conditions
* above 10 degrees is the high bounce, useful when your shots dig on impact, and when you are playing in parkland courses and face bunkers with fine sand.
If in doubt, just get the medium bounce wedge. That is the most versatile option and should help you negotiate most conditions.
Shafts: steel shafts are common and they are also the best option when it comes to wedges. Graphite shafts are also available in some sets, but steel provides the best feedback, feel and accuracy. Wedges have their own special “wedge” flex which best suits their short shaft lengths.
Sole Grinds: these are extra configuration options provided by many manufacturers in addition to the default design of a wedge. And it is in fact exactly what is sounds like: they grind the sole of the wedge away with machines to improve the performance of the wedge in specific conditions. You should always check with an expert clubfitter or pro golf teacher before choosing a sole grind since they often change the bounce dynamics of the wedge.
Finish: they give the wedges a distinct look and style. Now this is purely a matter of personal preference since finishes don’t really affect the overall feel and performance of the wedge. But they will wear out at different rates and might affect you choice.
* If you want long lasting finishes, chrome or nickel are your best bets
* If you like having some wear marks on your wedges, darker finishes are great since the paint on the sole and face will wear off with use. They also look really classy out of the box.
* Unplated or raw finishes can have a slight impact on performance over time, as they are designed to rust and wear, improving friction and spin as a result.
We start off with nice and inexpensive option that should work out as a great lob wedge for beginners. If you are looking to buy your first lob wedge, this elegant black chrome plated wedge with a loft of 60 degrees should do perfectly well.
It doesn’t offer class leading features, but at a price which is less than half or one-third of of what some of the other brand models cost, you cant really complain.
A very capable wedge series with an understated raw finish, the TaylorMade TP series offers best in class performance at affordable rates. This is a very consistent club ideal for mid level players looking to improve their short game.
It specializes in handling different turf and sand conditions with ease, with an All Terrain Grind feature available as default. For lob wedges, you get a maximum available loft of 60 degrees.
This series focuses a lot on delivering the most spin and control with a special groove design on the clubface. For those struggling with control and spin on their lofted shots, the Black Pearl is a great lob wedge with excellent laser milled grooves.
And it is quite forgiving, which should suit the high handicappers reasonably well. The gun metal finish looks great when you buy it, but might wear off with use.
This is a slightly unusual looking design from Callaway, created with the help of direct inputs from Phil Mickelson himself (hence the PM tag). The wider sole design has been optimized for aggressive shots with an open face from any situation.
Though adding bulk to the sole tends to mess up with a club’s Center of Gravity, Cleveland have managed to mitigate that aspect by shaving off with the use of neat looking drilled holes on the clubhead at the back of the sole. On a lob wedge, the option of W grind is suitable for extra feel and forgiveness.
Another budget offering in the wedges section, these are strictly capable performers suitable for beginners and mid cap players.
There are no fancy design elements on offer and the looks are not the greatest, but if you are on a tight budget, these will get the job done. The high forgiveness is especially suitable for high handicappers.
There are a lot of options for wedges in diverse price ranges. The wide disparity in prices also leads to some significant differences when it comes to real world performances. Our pick of the lot would be TaylorMade Tour Preferred Wedges, since they hit the sweet spot between price, performance and accessibility to players of all skill levels.