Approach Wedge Vs. Pitching Wedge: When To Use It?


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If you’re looking for a better understanding of approach wedge vs. pitching wedge, you’re in the right place.

Every golf club that golfers carry in their golf bags has a unique purpose. All serve differently due to their club’s loft design, whether lob wedges, approach wedges, or pitching wedges.

However, as a beginner, it might baffle you initially how many wedges you should carry and whether you should have an approach wedge or a pitching wedge? 

We have broken down the differences between the two in this guide to help you improve your game. 

What Exactly Is An Approach Wedge In Golf?

Taylormade Rocketbladez Approach Wedge
Taylormade Rocketbladez Approach Wedge

A wedge or an approach wedge is a layman’s term for the gap wedges used by most golfers. The approach wedge aims to narrow the gap between your pitching wedge and your sand wedge. 

The necessity for an approach wedge arose when pitching wedge lofts fell into the mid-low 40s, but sand wedge lofts remained in the mid-50s. A gap wedge’s adaptability makes it a valuable club throughout the round.

How To Employ An Approach Wedge?

If one understands the lofts of their pitching and sand wedges, then they should buy a gap wedge with a loft in the middle. Most pitching wedges manufactured after 1990 have roughly 46 degrees, while approach wedges have a loft of 50 to 54 degrees.

Below are some steps to put your new iron to work and expand your repertoire. 

Step #1

Take a casual swing to observe how far your gap wedge can go compared to your other two clubs. 

Hit 12 balls with your pitching wedge. Then, assuming you have a one-yard stride, walk off the distance to a location where most of the balls have fallen. 

Take note of the distance each ball travels. Do the same with your gap and sand wedges. You should know how much you can hit each club at the end of this practice.

Step #2

Repeat the routine, but this time adjust the location of the golf ball. Place 12 balls near the old insole of your front foot with the gap wedge, then 12 more balls across from the rear end of your following foot. 

The elevation of your shots may fluctuate as per the degree of backspin you will impart to the ball. Repeat the same with the other two wedges.

Step #3

Make a half-swing with your gap wedge, where your hands do not go parallel to the ground. This drill will assist you in visualizing the situations in which it will be beneficial.

Step #4

Learn that hitting balls on the range is never a replacement for hitting balls on the course. Many driving ranges do not let you hit off the fairway, forcing you to practice on mats.

Furthermore, practicing in those settings will help you acquire some skills. You will not be required to use as much ingenuity as you would on a golf course.

Now you have the tools you need to improve your golf game. It will simply take time to excel, and you are good to go.

What Is Pitching Wedge In Golf?

Square Strike Pitching Wedge
Square Strike Pitching Wedge

A pitching wedge is an iron with a loft of 43 to 49 degrees that is widely used to hit pitch shots. This is the lowest lofted wedge between a 9-iron and a gap wedge in the bag. 

The pitching wedge features a 34-38-inch shaft with a bounce that ranges from 2 to 3 degrees.

Pitching wedges aren’t often used for bunker shots, balls in the bush, or other soft lies because the bounce prevents the club from sliding underneath the ball.

Apart from a sand wedge, which has a high bounce, a pitching wedge and many other irons tend to dig into the turf, which is perfect for tight lies on the green or fringe — a full swing can produce a high-trajectory shot that travels 75-125 yards and lands gently.

Pitching wedges can also be used to chip or punch deep rough out. They’re a flexible club, and every golfer should get one in their bag.

The Methodology

body golf swing

A pitching wedge can help you blast it high and softly into the green from within 100 yards of the flag, whether in the fairway, first cut, or rough.

Since the pitching wedge was originally known as the “10-iron” and follows the typical loft progression of the numbered irons, it seems plausible that your pitching wedge stroke must be very close, if not identical, to that of any shorter iron.

Maintain the same ball position as usual, orient properly towards the goal line, and perform the same swing you would with a short iron, be it in the fairway or the rough, providing your stroke is sound and delivers good ball contact.

Make a shorter swing for less energy. 

Open your clubface, re-grip the club, and align the left of the target (for a right-handed golfer) to compensate for a higher trajectory that falls softer. Alternatively, you can utilize a gap wedge or lob wedge to get the desired result.

Avoid using a sand wedge on tight lies since the higher bounce makes the shot more difficult.

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What’s The Difference?

Here’s the difference between a gap and a pitching wedge as follows:

Loft And Bounce

Pitching wedges have lofts ranging from 46 to 48 degrees. The lofts of approach wedges range from 50 to 52 degrees. The greater loft on the gap wedge helps it get up in the air, but it cuts down on the distance it can travel. 

Pitching wedges also have less bounce than gap wedges. This makes them good choices on the fairway, while a gap wedge’s higher bounce is beneficial when hitting out of the rough.

Swing Speed

As players like to take complete swings from shorter distances, iron sets’ approach wedge is increasingly prominent. The majority of amateurs know how far a full swing shot will travel; it’s the lengths in between that they struggle with. 

Instead of pinching off space with your pitching wedge, you may take a complete swing and be more secure in your distance with the A wedge.

Conclusion

There’s no method for determining whether to use a pitching or approach wedge for a given shot. Your skill determines the proper decision, and playing the game is the only way to find out how good you are. 

Bring your wedges to a golf range with a pitching/chipping green and hit them from different distances to determine where you feel most comfortable with each club.