The Best Sand Wedges For Beginners
Golf equipment can be little confusing, to begin with, but many players find wedges to be the most complicated aspect of configuring their set. If you have ever scanned the shelves of a golf shop and seen their wedge section you are probably well-aware of what I mean.
The options for sand wedges are endless—not just in terms of how many manufacturers are out there (though there are a lot) but also by way of specifications. Loft, bounce, spin. These are all terms you will see stamped all over wedges and they only confuse the matter.
Today we are here to simplify the process of picking up an awesome wedge perfect for your game. First, we will go in depth in explaining the terms and what to consider, then we will closely examine five options that you will love. Read on to discover the best sand wedges for beginners!
What you need to know:
Things to consider:
- Loft: Wedge options have increased exponentially over the years—a development that is of huge benefit to the player. It’s also what makes buying them a little more complicated for those unaware of their options.
When you walk into the wedge aisle you will probably find that every club has a number with a degree symbol next to it, most likely be ranging from 46-64 degrees. It is important to note that these are not all technically traditional sand wedges, though they are often used interchangeably.
If you are only going to be buying one wedge, you will probably want it to have between 54-56 degrees of loft. Lower lofted clubs will go a little bit farther, but you will probably find that those with more loft are a little bit more versatile around the greens.
The 56-degree wedge has the specifications that closest fit those of what we think of as a sand wedge, which is what makes it the best sand wedge option for beginners. The other clubs are designed to fill the distance gaps left between your pitching wedge and sand wedge, which make them invaluable assets for those who do not want to have to make half swings for the feel shots.
- Bounce: Now that you have narrowed your focus to the 56-degree wedge you will probably notice that next to the number 56, there is another smaller number representing the degree of bounce that the club features. You will also probably notice that every 56-degree wedge (including some made by the same manufacturer) will have a different degree of bounce.
While this may further complicate the matter for you, it is ultimately for your benefit.
Simply put, the bounce of a club is the degree to which the leading edge is raised from the ground. Which bounce is right for you is contingent on a number of things, including your height, set up, and swing. While most players just settle on a bounce angle that looks decent to them at address, the best thing to do is talk the decision over with the pro or salesperson present at the store you are shopping at. They can help determine which option is best for you.
- Spin: Spin used to be a more prevalent factor when considering wedges but there isn’t as much variation as there used to be. When a wedge advertises that it is “spin milled,” (or similar phrases) what it is saying is that the grooves are a little bit larger, and optimized to put backspin on the ball.
Several years ago, the USGA put limitations on how deep and wide grooves can be on wedges. This was done for the purposes of limiting professionals access to high spinning clubs but unfortunately, it mostly only hurt amateurs.
Because of this rule, most clubs now are going to feature similar specifications when it comes to optimizing spin.
- Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a phrase that you will find attached to virtually every single club in the game of golf in one way or another. Manufacturers throw it into their advertisements as much as they can because of what the word suggests—forgiving clubs feature large sweet spots, meaning the ball will go further and straighter even when you make poor contact.
For irons and woods forgiveness is a great benefit to most if not all players, but in the world of wedges, it means very little. You will still see it from time to time but the truth is most people can play most wedges.
While some sand wedges will feature an oversized face and a large cavity back (typical components of “forgiveness clubs”) I actually steer away from that direction. I find that bulkier wedges are less versatile from bunkers or the rough, but if you favor that look and feel, then, by all means, consider picking one up.
- Look/Feel: In my personal opinion, this is the most important thing to consider on the entire list. Like putters, wedges are felt clubs. Finding success with them is as much a product of confidence and intuition as it is technique.
Finding a club that you find visually appealing will go a long way in giving you the confidence you need to succeed once your new sand wedge is in the bag.
I’m also always a big advocate of trying before you buy. Most golf shops will give you the option to do so on a net and mat, and many of them even feature launch monitors to show you how your shot would have turned out had you hit it on the course. If you like the way that a club looks, and how it feels, chances are it is the one for you.
- Price: In terms of golf equipment, buying wedges is generally speaking the most affordable acquisition you can make. That is not to say that they are cheap, but they definitely are not going to break the bank the same way a new driver will.
There also isn’t a lot of variation in price when it comes to buying a wedge. The difference between models will typically be around ten, twenty, thirty dollars rather than the several-hundred-dollar price discrepancies you will find when considering other equipment options.
I’ve always found that this gives me a little bit more freedom to just chose the wedge that is right for me, but if you are on a tight budget, you might of course still favor the bargain.
The one thing I would not recommend is picking up a used wedge. Used golf equipment can sometimes be a good buy, but when it comes to wedges there is a good chance you won’t be getting your money’s worth.
One of the things that you want in a wedge is nice, sharp grooves that will deliver the spin we talked about earlier. Once you’ve played a club for a while though, those grooves are going to start to get dull. When you pick up a used wedge, you’re getting a club that is already past its prime, and chances are you will only get diminishing returns from there.
With all of that out of the way, it is now time to have fun as we take a look at five of the best sand wedges for beginners.
What’s out there:
Cleveland Golf Men’s RTX-3 VMG (Mid Bounce) Tour Wedge
Don’t let the phrase “tour wedge,” intimidate you. This club will work just fine for anyone. Cleveland has a long-standing reputation for making excellent short game equipment. Up until recently, they made every club in the bag but in the last years they have reduced their focus to wedges and putters, and since then the quality of both has improved.
Let’s take a look at this club’s pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if it is something that you want in your bag.
- Center of Gravity: They played around with the weight distribution a little bit for this model to ensure that the center of gravity is a little bit closer to where you will actually be striking the ball.
Why is that nice? It will help you hit the ball a little bit more solidly, and it will also help get the ball in the air a little quicker for that nice soft landing that you look for in wedge shots.
- V-Grind: Sole grind is even more complicated than bounce but all you really need to know is that the V-Grind featured on the sole of this club is made to cut through the turf for solid contact.
When it comes to wedges, the down swing can get pretty steep which is actually a good thing. The steep swing is what will help produce your spin, but it can also make it relatively easy to hit shots fat.
The sole on this club will help counteract that for more reliable, consistent shot making.
- Rotex Face: Rotex is their word, not mine. What does it mean? The face of this club is designed to optimize spin. As you might remember I mentioned earlier that thanks to a ruling from the USGA, the grooves on most clubs are going to be more or less identical.
That was true, but the USGA’s rule pertains only to grooves, not the actual face of the club. Because of that, Cleveland was able to create a textured design for the face of this club to help maximize spin.
- None: You’ll see that a lot on this list. A good wedge really won’t have a lot of cons.
Callaway Mack Daddy PM Chrome Wedge
This next one is a real beauty. In fact, as far as design is concerned, this might very well be my favorite to be featured on the list. While Callaway is best known for their woods and their putters, they are in general, a brand to look at when it comes to buying clubs, and this particular wedge has a little special something in its favor when it comes to design. We will delve further as we look at the pros and cons.
- Phil Mickelson: No, the man doesn’t come with the club, but perhaps this wedge does feature the next best thing. The Mack Daddy was crafted by short game magician Phil Mickelson.
Phil is known for a lot of golf history, and his name will without question be on the short list for best players of all time but it was through hitting truly stunning wedge shots that attained this greatness. The fact that he lent his expertise to the design of this wedge is only a plus.
- Versatility: The shape of this wedge is designed with versatility in mind. From tight lies to thick rough, or compact bunkers, you can count on the Mack Daddy to perform well no matter where you are hitting it from.
- Mid-Flight: The center of gravity on this club is designed to feature a mid-flight pattern which at first sounds like a con, but the face is optimized to maximize spin so that your shots land just as soft as you expect them to.
If you’ve played around enough, you are well-aware of the fact that occasionally a well-struck wedge shot will still balloon in the air and fall well short of the green. The flight pattern featured on this model prevents that.
- A little Bulky: I wasn’t being insincere when I said that I think the design of this club is beautiful, but for my purposes, it will have to be something that I admire from afar. The bulky head on the Mack Daddy is just a little bit too much for me, but if it catches your eye, then go for it.
TaylorMade 2017 Milled Grind Golf Wedge
I guess I should mention that TaylorMade doesn’t necessarily have a reputation for making wedges. They’ve earned their prominence mostly by producing good woods, but regardless I can personally attest to the quality of their wedges.
While I am generally a Titleist man, including my wedges. I have always played a TaylorMade sand wedge stemming all the way back to my very first set of clubs. I think at this point it is mostly a product of superstition but I can also assure you that they wouldn’t remain in the bag if they didn’t work well.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons found on this model so you can decide for yourself if it is something you want to put in your bag.
- Soft Feel: TaylorMade claims that they milled this club with a soft feel in mind and in this case, I can personally attest to how well they have accomplished what they set out to do. The feel on these clubs is tremendous which I think is probably the main thing that keeps me coming back.
- Multiple Grinds: They’ve included a lot of different grinds from which you can choose from with this club to ensure that it is optimized to the needs of every golfer. You might recall that the sole grind is essentially the way that the club interacts with the turf at impact. Different swing angles will require different grinds.
While the options do make selecting a club a little more complicated, of course, the variety is to your benefit.
- Maximum Spin: Again, you won’t see much of a difference in spin between clubs these days but for what it is worth I think this club is getting the most out of what the USGA allows. While I can’t quite zip a ball back the way Phil Mickelson does, I do see good results with this club.
- None again: Yeah, really none to speak of. It’s a good club and if it catches your eye I would say go for it. It’s served me well over the years.
Mizuno Ion Wedge
Mizuno makes good equipment all throughout the bag. They seem to favor a more modern design than I care for which is why none of their clubs have ever permanently found their way into my hands, but nevertheless, they do make good, worthwhile stuff that is certainly worth examining. Let’s do that, shall we?
- Bargain: Fortunately, none of the wedges that we are looking at today are going to cost and arm and a leg, but of all the bargains, this is probably the best on the list. The Ion wedge comes at the lowest price point out of anything that we have looked at today, and that deal definitely does not come at the price of quality making it a good buy.
- Forged: Forged clubs are meticulously crafted, and when you pick one up you can always count on receiving a nice soft feel from your shots. This club is no exception.
- Loft Specific Grooves: This is one of the more interesting features to come out this club. Each different loft that these wedges come in has its own set of grooves. This is a nice touch as you need different things out of each wedge.
Sand wedges are used for both full swings, and a lot of shots around the green, so it is nice to have a face optimized to function fully in both situations.
- Personal Preference: The blue coloring of the head might not be for everyone. Personally, I can’t really decide either way if it is for me, but the uncertainty would probably be enough of a reason for me to pass.
The Titleist Vokey wedge has enjoyed a long-standing reputation for being of high quality. I believe I have mentioned that I play them in addition to my TaylorMade sand wedge so I can personally attest to their worth. Vokey is, and always will be a staple of the wedge world, but let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this model to determine if it is for you.
- Options: Like the TaylorMade club that we looked at earlier this model comes in a variety of different sole grind options to ensure that it suits the swing of any player.
- Optimized for bad lies: Unfortunately, we don’t always get to hit our wedges from the fairway. When you find yourself in the rough or sand, you will be able to pull this club with confidence. It has been designed to play well out of tall grass and sand to ensure it is able to accomplish the only thing we really ask of our wedges anyway—save you strokes around the greens.
- Spin: I can personally tell you that Vokey gets a lot out of their grooves even in spite of the rules. While it has been a while since I have deviated from buying Vokey I can say that it spins as well as or better than any other wedge I have sampled which is why it maintains a longstanding place in my bag.
- None to speak of. Almost none. I will mention that Vokey wedges change very little from model to model, if at all. In fact, if you are already playing a Vokey wedge I would say that the only reason to upgrade is if the grooves on your current model have started to dull.
Besides that, you will hear no complaints from me! I think it’s a great club.
The truth is any one of these would make a good buying option. The biggest consideration you should make is what feels right for you. That said, I am going to have to choose the Cleveland model for the winner for today’s purposes.
While every single one of these wedges performs at a high level, I like the textured design of Cleveland’s face. I think it is a good way to maximize results in spite of the rules.
At the end of the day though, you will just have to choose what club works best for you. Take your time, and have fun. Buying new clubs can be enjoyable and you will find that with the right sand wedge in your hands the strokes will melt from your score.
I hope you have enjoyed our guide for the best sand wedges for beginners! If you have questions, concerns, or comments, leave a message down below!