What is a Bogey in Golf?

We have a couple of answers to ‘what does bogey mean in golf’ depending on the time in history! It's interesting because the modern bogey is easy to explain. 

The term 'par' came into regular usage in the early 1900s. Par also assigns a target score to each hole, but par was calculated by dividing up holes by their length.

Definition of bogey was more complicated, as it depended on the club actually assessing the difficulty of a hole locally. The implementation of bogey and standardization was not possible as it changed from club to club. 

Once scoring got better, advanced golfers would try for par instead of bogey. "Bogey scores" for the more difficult holes were usually a shot higher than the defined 'par'. You might even find the very traditional golf clubs even nowadays still keep a "bogey score" as well as a "par score" on the scorecard. You might find the total "bogey score" is roughly 5-6 shots higher than the par score. Is this confusing? YES. That's why they stopped it.

Ridiculously, par and bogey scores on every hole could be the same but occasionally, the bogey score was one over par. That's where they got the modern day idea of bogey from. 

“Bogey” is a scoring term in the game of golf meaning a player made a score of one stroke over par on a golf hole. This is the current usage of the word.

Here is what would count as a bogey when playing golf:

  • 4 shots on a par-3 hole
  • 5 shots on a par-4 hole
  • 6 shots on a par-5 hole

Original Meaning of Bogey (Historical)

The original meaning of bogey was a score that a skilled golfer would try to make. The word bogey was totally different from a par, which was used at the same time, but par meant the ’perfect’ score on a particular hole.

The concept of a bogey was created in the 1890s but it had a different name,  ‘ground score’ but not yet known as ‘bogey’.

Par was the measurement used in the USA, but in the UK, they liked to use the word bogey. 

What is a bogey competition in golf?

Bogey competitions are a type of game where you play against the course in an imaginary matchplay game. Kind of like trying to beat the house when you're at a casino. This is a great way to improve your own game.

Bogey golf format

How it works: The course scores bogey on each hole: on every hole, you give the course (your opponent) the traditional bogey as described above.

You have to use your discretion with this if you play this competition with yourself as an improvement game. Normally the bogey score is the same as the par on the scorecard but on roughly 6 holes, it's one shot higher than the par.

MY VERSION FOR YOU: If you want to get better at golf, create your own par. Just assign whatever par you want to each hole. Try to beat the 'course' by beating that score on the hole. If you do not beat it, it's a halved hole. You can get much better at golf playing this competition in your mind. 

Later on, these actual official competitions were just turned into Stableford competition which we play today (mainly in English colonies), where your handicap dictates on which holes you receive strokes. If you are a 24 handicap and you play the stoke index 3 hole, you receive two strokes against par, so your score to receive 2 points must be a double bogey. If you score bogey, you beat your personal par by 1 shot, so you get THREE points. 

Is Scoring a Bogey Bad?

Making a bogey in golf can be bag or good depending on how skilled the player is at golf. It's one of those golf terms which means different things to different people.

Golf is a really difficult game to play. The par score of a golf hole is set against the amount of shots professional golfers would expect to play to complete the hole. With this in mind, making a bogey, or "one over par" on a hole is actually a very good score for recreational golfers.

Most golfers would be happy being classed as a "bogey golfer." This means that they can play a golf course taking one shot over par on every hole as an average.

For professional players bogey in golf is a different matter. An expert golfer is trying to play golf courses to par or even under par. Bogey scores can damage their card making them lose ground on the rest of the field.

Bogey Golfer Handicap - Golf handicap for bogey golfer

An average score of around 90 will give a handicap of 15. That is the average handicap of all US male golfers. A golfer who shoots 90 is considered a bogey golfer. That means the player averages one bogey (+1) per hole on a par 72, 18 hole course which means he finishes +18 for a score of 90.

Other types of Bogey - Double Bogey, Triple Bogey, Quadruple Bogey

Yes there are scores worse than bogey when playing golf!

For example, 5 strokes on a par-3 would be a double bogey, and 9 strokes on a par-5 would be a quadruple bogey.

Is it spelled bogeys or bogies?

One bogey, many bogeys. The spelling is bogeys - just add an 's'.

Does Every Golfer Make Bogey in Golf?

Yes.

Even the most expert golfers and PGA Tour pros will make bogey. It's just part of the game.

In 2021, the PGA tour average for bogeys per round played was 2.72. Tour championship winner Patrick Cantlay finished the season with an average of 2.03 bogeys per round. When you compare this to another top player like Rory McIlroy (2.64 per round) you can see what a bogey means to the average score at that level of golf.

Bogeys For The Average Golfer

Golfers with a 16-20 handicap (about average for most golfers) averaged 7.3 bogeys, 4.7 double bogeys, and 2.1 triple bogeys or worse per 18-hole round. Golfers at this level had 3.6 pars and 0.3 birdies or better on average. Eagles are almost non-existent!

Golfers in the 21-25 handicap range averaged 8.9 double bogeys or worse per 18 holes. This means that they scored worse than a bogey on almost half their holes. Room for improvement!

Conclusion

Bogey is a very common golf term. Now that you have read this article you will see that everyone makes bogeys when playing golf, even the most expert golfer. Becoming a "bogey golfer" is a standard that all beginners can aim for and you will then learn to appreciate the term bogey more as your skill levels increase. 

Shot Scope H4 GPS Review – Handheld Distance

by Jason Blevins (Playa)

Do you hate wearing a watch? I do. 

They make my wrist itch, the metal bands irritate me, the synthetic ones don’t breathe, and the cloth bands just get soaked with sweat. The last thing you need on a humid afternoon in the middle of summer is something else to provide another uncomfortable distraction out on the course.

Thank the golf gods for the Shot Scope H4. The designers at Shot Scope decided to throw all of the technology in their V3 series watch into a handheld device that provides a treasure chest crammed with usable statistics for game development as well as GPS data for the course. 

Full Review of the Shot Scope H4 in Detail

In the Shot Scope H4 box

When you first open the Shot Scope H4, you’ll find

  • a USB charger - it’s specific to the unit so you’ll want to keep track of this and not lose it
  • a magnetic belt clip - provides a very secure connection if you prefer to wear it that way 
  • the GPS unit itself
  • 16 screw-in 'club tags'

Difference between Shot Scope H4 and Arccos

The prime differences in the tags for the H4 vs the Arccos is that the Shot Scope tags don’t use a battery, so you don’t have to worry about the sensors going dead after a couple of years. The D-ring fits through a slot on the belt clip if you opt to carry the unit clipped onto your bag.

I was also considering the Game Golf Live as well as the Arccos system. The Shot Scope H4 provides all the information and data tracking with comparisons without subscription fees and that tipped the scales in favor of the H4. 

How the H4 Club Tags work

To get the clubs ready, just screw the tags into the grips of the corresponding clubs.

Then download and start the mobile app, power on the H4, and the app will walk you through a simple pairing process.

Once at the course turn the unit on, acquire the GPS signal, and you’re off to the first tee.

How does the Shot Scope H4 work on the course?

On the course it’s a very accurate GPS unit with suggested layups, distances to hazards, front, middle, back, etc.

Unlike the V3 watch the H4 handheld does not automatically detect your swing. The H4 relies on the golfer to “tag” the club before each shot to register position.

This may seem like a hassle, but as I read reviews of various watch based systems missing shots, I came to like the idea of having to tag it myself. I have worked it into my pre-shot routine and tagging the club serves as a trigger that I’ve moved into the “action zone”. So far I’ve logged two rounds and not a missed shot, which made post round editing in app or on PC a breeze.

The trigger of moving into the 'action zone' of the shot has helped to get me more focused on my shot and is a mental game side-benefit I did not expect!

Pros

  • Tagging your clubs makes this automatic without having to remember to select on a watch face
  • Very easy to set up - plug, download, install, sync
  • Stats tracking is a bonus that you can use to gauge your club distance and where you're leaking shots
  • No subscription fees for the full service
  • Includes the sensors at a very good price - unbeatable really
  • Tags do not use batteries so they will not die

Cons

  • A small carry case should be included in the package to prevent scratching but is not
  • Does not automatically pick up your swing as it is not attached to your arm like a golf GPS watch

What data can the H4 give a golfer?

Now we get to the fun stuff… the data. The H4 gives you three different distances for your clubs;

Longest, Average, and P-Avg (Playing Average).

The first two are self explanatory, but the playing average removes outliers from tops, duffs, scoops, thinned shots, etc. This gives valuable real life distances that mean more to me than LM numbers. There is also Strokes Gained data for a quick comparison of your game to your handicap peers that is in an easily understood “at a glance” reference, or it can be as deep a dive as you like.

All in all I don’t think you could get more bang for the buck out of a shot tracker. While it may not have an A.I. caddy like it’s competition, it’s a more than capable unit for game development and it’s lack of subscription fees and lifetime updates to the firmware make it a great choice for the value minded golfer.

How big is the H4 Shot Scope?

The little device is similar to the size of a golf ball and flat enough to not bother you on your belt, in your pocket or hanging from your bag. 

Final Thoughts

If you don't like a watch, the Shot Scope H4 is a nice device to use for the exact same functions.

The data that it tracks is useful to help you keep track of what you're hitting your clubs, how you're playing and how to improve. 

You get the sensors, you get the distance measurements and the stats to analyze your game at a great price - what's not to like?

Hybrid vs Iron Distance – Compare Which is Best

Golf is a tough game, we know that. Thankfully golf gear in recent times has been designed in a way to allow beginner golfers and the average golfer to enjoy the game. Hybrid clubs have had the biggest impact in this area. They replace those hard to hit long irons and help you get the golf ball into the air and increase your average distance!

But does a hybrid club go the same distance as an iron? There are a few factors to consider in this decision such as loft, head shape, center of gravity and shaft length, all of which we'll get stuck into in this article.

So should most golfers be gaming hybrid golf clubs? Let's look at some stats.

Hybrid clubs vs Irons Equivalents Distance Chart

Club

Loft (Degrees)

Carry distance (Yards)

3 iron

19

209

4 iron

21.5

200

5 iron

24

192

6 iron

27

179

3 hybrid

19

217

4 hybrid

22

204

5 hybrid

25

195

6 hybrid

28

179

These numbers were gathered by site contributor Joe. He's a 14 handicap from the UK. He has a driver swing speed of 100 MPH. He he hit 10 shots with each club on a Trackman monitor. The settings were normalised. The number here is carry distance NOT total distance.

For reference he was using PXG 0311 P irons and equivalent PXG 0317 X Gen4 hybrids. All clubs have stiff shafts and are 1/2 inch longer than standard length. He was hitting a 2 piece Srixon range ball.

As you can see from the numbers, Joe hit his 4 and 5 irons shorter than a hybrid club with a similar loft. he also noticed that his off center strikes with the long irons were penalised in terms of maximum distance much more than poor strikes with a hybrid.

His dispersion numbers were similar with both types of golf club, but he felt he had more control with the shorter irons.

Do Hybrids And Irons Go The Same Distance?

As we can see from the data above, a hybrid golf club will go on average around 7 yards longer than the equivalent iron. This increase in average distance could be a big benefit to the average golfer.

There are a number of reasons a hybrid will got longer than an iron. They are;

  1. Ball speed
  2. Golf club design
  3. Shaft length

Ball speed

The sweet spot on a hybrid is bigger and the size of the head creates much more ball speed on center strikes. Joe saw his ball speed increase by 4-5 mph with a hybrid in his hand. A hybrid looks more forgiving at address which can create a more confident swing and more speed.

The clubhead design of a hybrid makes it behave like fairway woods with a hotter club face and more aerodynamic features. These all contribute to increased ball speed.

Golf club design

The center of gravity is much lower in a hybrid than a corresponding iron. This increases launch angle and makes it far easier to hit the ball into the air. Higher ball trajectory and launch angle will mean more distance, even if you don't generate that much club head speed. This is why hybrid clubs are so popular with senior golfers who struggle to hit their long iron in the air.

The lie angle of a hybrid is also usually more upright than a long iron, encouraging a draw shape golf shot. Most golfers will hit a weak fade ball flight with their long irons which decreases shot distance.

Shaft length

A longer shafted hybrid will produce more clubhead speed and this will increase your average distances, even with the same loft. High handicappers may struggle with longer clubs, but a hybrid doesn't tend to be as long as a fairway wood so it's the best of both worlds. Joe's hybrids are the same length as the corresponding iron he has replaced and he finds them easier to hit.

Should I play a hybrid or an iron?

I believe that the average golfer who is shooting in the 80's or 90's will benefit from having at least one hybrid club in their golf bag. Hybrids are very versatile and provide more shot making options for most golfers than long irons.

I don't recommend playing a full set of hybrids and replacing all of your irons unless you are a total novice golfer or a senior with a really slow swing speed. Shorter irons are easy to hit with practice offer more options on the golf course.

But if you struggle with your medium and long irons you should definitely consider replacing them with hybrids. If you're looking to add distance and gain forgiveness in these clubs, a hybrid will do that without having to adjust your swing. If you need more accuracy and ball flight control, an iron will give you this.

Professional golfers will use long irons because they can guarantee a solid strike and land to be able to control the ball contact, trajectory and spin rates on their long shots.

Hybrid clubs are also much more forgiving out of tall grass and other hazards. I find it nearly impossible to hit my 4 iron out of the rough or sand. I either hit the ball fat or the club head gets tangled in the grass. A hybrid will always perform better than a long iron from these lies as it has a wider sole, lower center of gravity and bigger club face.

Do You Hit A Hybrid Like An Iron?

Hybrids are designed to be hit like an iron. They may look like fairway woods but the amount of loft on a hybrid club mean you need to hit down on the ball.

Players who have trouble hitting hybrid golf clubs will often try and sweep the golf ball and this can lead to thin or weak shots. A hybrid will naturally promote a higher trajectory so expect to see the ball flight look similar if not higher than the iron your hybrid replaces.

Hybrids are very versatile though, and can be used a tee shot clubs if you struggle to hit a long iron or fairway woods consistently enough to get the ball into play.

What Iron Does A 21 Degree Hybrid Replace?

A hybrid with 21 degrees of loft is called a 4 hybrid and is a great replacement for a 3 iron which will have a similar loft (19-21 degrees). The hybrid will have a slightly longer shaft and a bigger head size, making it easier to hit consistently.

There are 21-degree hybrids available out there but the trend nowadays is towards hybrids with 22 degrees of loft. Many modern hybrids now have loft adjustment technology built into the head allowing you to tweak the club.

I game a 21 degree hybrid as a replacement for my old 3 iron. It travels a similar distance but is far more forgiving. This is the one club i turn to the most on the course and I really believe it has reduced my average score in the past few seasons. It is so versatile, I use it from the tee, fairway rough and sand. Off the deck I can hit a lower trajectory shot if needed and I feel like I can use it like a pitching wedge for some middle distance shots. I love it!

Conclusion 

Hybrids will go further than long irons and are a must for a high handicapper or senior player. I think any golfer who wants to lower their overall score and hit the ball solid more often should put a hybrid in their bag. As always see if a hybrid is a better option than a long iron by testing these golf clubs out at a driving range. Remember, golf is meant to be a fun hobby, not a constant struggle so play the equipment which gives you the maximum amount of help you can get. 

Is a Golf Membership Worth It?

Getting into golf is fun and it can quickly become addictive. When I first started I would spend nearly all of my spare time at my local golf course, chipping, putting or playing as many holes as I could fit in. 

As a junior, I was able to get a golf membership for a very low cost but as I got older and my playing time decreased, the price of joining a club became something I had to seriously consider. So is a golf club membership worth it? Let’s take a look at some of the factors you should be considering in this area. 

Country club with golf carts

What is included in a golf membership?

  • Unlimited golf - most 5 and 7 day memberships will allow you to unlimited play without paying green fees. This will vary on how busy your club is.
  • Official World Handicap System golf handicap - After submitting a predefined amount of qualifying cards you will be given a golf handicap.
  • Access to competitions and social events - You can play in monthly medals and other events to win prizes.
  • Use of country club/course practice facilities - Most golf courses will have a have at least a practice putting green, and many will have a driving range which you can use without incurring extra cost.
  • Use of clubhouse facilities - This is includes access to the bar, restaurant and changing rooms. Also access to the resident PGA pro for lessons.
  • Discounted rates in pro shop and bar - members are often given cheaper rates to encourage them to spend money at the club.
  • Discounted rates and access to other golf courses - At Troon courses for example, you become a member of a rewards programme giving you access to Troon golf properties worldwide.

Sounds great right? Obviously all of the above comes at a cost which can vary massively depending on the quality and location of the golf club you want to join. So...

How much does a golf membership cost?

The average cost of a golf membership in the USA is between $1000-$5000.

Of course this amount will be different due to your location around the world and how memberships work where you are. At Augusta national for example, no one really knows how much it costs to join and maintain a membership, but it is estimated that the initiation fee is around $40,000 and the yearly dues are a few thousand dollars. This is great, but the there's the problem of actually being considered for membership. If you're not a past US president or business god, maybe lower your expectations.

The fact is that golf memberships have been declining in recent years so average golfers can usually get really good deals on golf membership. Check your home course and municipal courses to see what's on offer. Many courses won't have a waiting list and won't charge you an initiation fee.

If you are seriously considering a membership and want to work out if the monthly dues are worth it, here are few things to consider.

How much golf do you play? 

To see if a golf membership is worth it from how many rounds you play to money paid perspective, we’re going to need to do some sums. Let’s assume the annual cost of a membership is $1000 (I’m not factoring initiation fees here for simplicity). If you play once a week that's 52 rounds, which is a cost of $19.20 per round. At a very basic level, if that amount is less than an average green fee and you’re playing that much golf then a membership is probably the best value way for you to play golf.

If you are only playing golf once or twice a month or less in the winter, then obviously this value metric decreases. To entice this type of player, many clubs will now offer associate member rates where you pay a low upfront fee and a discounted green fee every time you play. You will also get the benefits of being a full member such as being able to play in competitions, an official handicap and access to other amenities at the club.


Is a handicap important to you? 

Getting and maintaining an official golf handicap through the World Handicap System (WHS) means that more than likely you’ll need to be a member of a golf club. You will need to play nominated handicap qualification rounds with another WHS holder before you are bonafide. 

Once you have a handicap, you can play in club competitions and opens at other courses. It will also allow you to play at courses where there is a maximum handicap limit.

If having an official handicap isn’t that important to you then you might not see it as something which justifies the financial investment required for a golf membership. 

Is social golf the thing for you? (Country club people) 

Golf clubs are by definition places where people who share the same hobby gather and the social side of club membership can be a huge positive when considering joining a club. It’s pretty much a guaranteed way to make new friends and clubs will often offer many other social and special events outside of golf to their members. This is especially true in the US and Asia where the country club model is prevalent, and I’ve known people who spend all of their free time at their club. The golf course is also great for business networking opportunities, especially at exclusive clubs and private courses.

You can be a member of a club and still play on your own or with a limited group of people, but some would say that this goes against what being a member is all about. In my opinion it’s nice to have the option to pick and choose how involved you want to be so it’s best just to go with what feels natural to you. 

Do you want to play the same course all the time

If you’re making a sizeable financial commitment to play golf at a club, you had better like playing that course, and like playing it in all conditions. It’s worth playing a course when it’s meant to be at its worst to see if it is still golf you will be playing or some kind of mud wrestling. Ask around and see if other players know what the winter drainage is like, or if the course gets regular maintenance. I’m not a fan of winter greens and tees so I would always check to see if these are used at your course of choice. 

I'd also check how easy it is to get a tee time at traditionally busy times. I've seen guys sitting on their iPad's weeks in advance waiting for tee times to be released at their clubs so they can get on the course when they want!

Playing at one club over and over can be a positive as it is the best way to bring down your handicap. Getting used to the grasses and knowing the lines to play is something which comes with many rounds over time and before you know it you will be slashing strokes from your game with ease. 

It is also worth seeing if your course offers reciprocal arrangements with other clubs in the area, which could allow you to play free or heavily discounted golf at other courses. This practice is prevalent in the UK and in Europe so it’s a question worth asking when you’re doing your research. 

Is your local course any good?

This might seem like a stupid question, but is your local course a good one to play and DO YOU LIKE PLAYING THERE. If the answer to either of these is no, then it might be worth expanding the radius of your search. I know guys who travel an hour either way to play at their home club, whereas some live 5 minutes away. It’s all about finding a course and club which suits you. 

Other ways to play golf without being a golf club member 

Being a member isn’t the only way to play golf regularly and on a budget. The rise of online booking apps and golf societies has changed the landscape of the game giving rise to “nomadic golfers” who aren’t attached to any one course. 

Book online

If you're willing to play at odd times, either midweek or in the twilight hours, you can usually get really good deals on green fees. Apps like GolfNow sync up with golf course online booking systems and will often heavily discount certain times to attract visitors to clubs. Gone are the days where golfer who pay green fees were treated like second class citizens. Clubs are far more welcoming and often rely on this extra revenue to keep them going. 

Once I’ve visited a club a few times, I will often ask the pro or whoever takes the fees if I can book with them direct so they don’t have to give online agents a fee. Usually most clubs are more than happy to match the discounted rate and I usually end up spending more in the bar as a result. It pays to ask and be friendly! 

Join a golf society 

I think societies are great and they can often be the perfect way to get that membership feeling without having to pay large dues and play the same course over and over. Societies will often have their own handicap system and set up competitions at selected public courses. It’s a great way to meet new people and see lots of new courses during the golf season. (And potentially save thousands of dollars!)


Get online or ask other golfers if they know of or take part in a society and get stuck in. They are always fun.

How to Play Golf in the Wind

Learning to play golf in the wind is essential if you want to consistently enjoy the game. I’m a fair weather player and I’ll only play in wet weather if I absolutely have to, but playing in the wind and managing those conditions is a challenge that I look forward to. 

I grew up playing in windy conditions and I’ve naturally developed shots to help me take advantage of the wind and hit the golf ball solidly in these conditions. In this article I’ll go over some techniques and approaches you will need to become a master on those windy days and be the envy of your playing partners. 

Keep the ball low

You may hear commentators on TV or other players talk about “keeping the ball under the wind” or something along those lines. While I get what they’re on about, I think they’re missing the point. Unless you’re playing in a valley or heavily tree lined course, it’s not really possible to keep the ball beneath the wind, it is however wise to keep the ball low. 

What’s the difference? A lower shot will more than likely produce less spin and allow the ball to pierce the wind without ballooning into the sky. In some cases you might want to launch the ball into the air to ride the wind, a downwind drive for example, but even then you’re at the mercy of mother nature, and any gusts can send the ball off the planet. 

After watching and playing a lot of links golf, I noticed the secret here is to resist the temptation to swing harder. If you have the wind in your face, you automatically feel you have to muscle the ball out there to get any sort of distance. The problem is, the harder you swing, the more spin you generate and the more likely you are to lose distance.

The punch shot

Every golfer should have this shot in their arsenal, but it’s pretty much essential for playing in the wind. I like to think of a punch as a harder version of a chip shot and it’s something I’ve learned to play with nearly every club in the bag. 

If you can’t hit a punch consistently, you’re in for a long day on the links so try these tips out or go for a lesson with a pro. 

How to hit a golf punch shot

  1. Play the ball from the back to middle of your stance
  2. Grip down on your club
  3. Keep your hands forward to deloft the club
  4. Feel like 70% of your weight is on your left side (for right handed players) 
  5. Make a short sharp swing, like a jab in boxing 
  6. Shorten your follow through 
  7. Keep the badge on your glove facing the target throughout your swing

All of these tips are only useful if they match up to a feeling you get out on the course. Next time you play or are at the range, try to only hit punch shots with certain clubs to groove some feelings. Play with ball position and swing length to see what works for you. My punch shots tend to draw, but yours could fade, so make sure you account for this shape when lining up to the target. 

Know your yardages in the wind

Knowing how far you hit the ball in the wind is something that comes with experience. If you hit your 7 iron 150 on a calm day, it could be affected by as much as 20 yards in either direction on a windy day so you have to learn to account for that. 

I try not to think of wind in terms of clubs lost or gained. You might hear, “it’s a two club wind” but I think that’s misleading. Is it two clubs swinging full, or two clubs hitting a high draw or low fade? I find it easier to try and measure how much yardage the wind is taking away or giving me in any given scenario. 

Here’s a scenario. I’ve got a 175 yard shot to a pin at the back of the green which is 5 yards uphill. On a calm day, this would be stock 6 iron to guarantee I get the ball up the hill to the back of the green. The wind is into my face and I have judged that it will take 15 yards of my stock shot. I’m taking into account the fact that my 6 iron flys high and will get stalled in the breeze. I decide to tame more club and hit a punchy 5 iron, with the intention that I will land the ball around 160 yards and roll out the remaining 15 yards to the pin. 

Into the wind and downwind don't affect the ball equally

I used to think that the wind would carry and stall the ball equally in the wind but I’ve learned that this is often not the case. I watched a video with Rory McIlroy where he said that he had seen downwind shots only fly fractionally further than normal shots. I tried this theory out and found it to be true on shots which had a higher level of spin - anything from a 7 iron and down. My driver, woods and longer irons, which have less spin did appear to fly further than normal, but I couldn't work out if it was just me hitting the ball harder to try and “ride the wind.” 

Putting in the wind is hard 

If you’re playing on a links course with tightly mown greens, putting in the wind can seem like a totally alien concept compared to what you’re used to doing. You will need to pick different lines and hit the ball with authority to counteract the effect the wind will inevitably have on the ball. It took me a while to get the hang of this game within a game but a simple tip helped me not lose my sanity on windy days. 

On a particularly windy day, a buddy of mine let me use his heavy mallet putter instead of my blade headed club. I couldn’t believe how much more stable the clubhead felt through impact and I was able to make what felt like a normal stroke and the ball would travel much further. With my blade I feel like I have to hit the ball hard to get it to the hoe in the wind and this wasn’t the case with the mallet. 

I now keep both putter styles in my car and use the one which I think will suit the conditions best. This won't work for everyone, but it has had a massive impact on my game. I also use the mallet on greens I know will be slower, it just works for me.

When is it too windy to play golf?

Disclaimer I class windy conditions as anything up to 20mph. Anything beyond that while manageable can begin to get unplayable if you’re not a highly skilled player. Seeing a middled drive go less than 150 yards is pretty demoralising and watching the ball roll off the green after a strong gust when putting is just silly. 

How to hit a driver low in the wind

How many times have you hit a drive on a windy day and watched as the golf ball balloons up into the air and basically comes back towards you? You would think that as the driver has the least loft of all of your clubs, it should fly lower. The problem we have is spin. A poor strike with your driver causes excess spin which is then enhanced by any breeze out there on the golf course. We need to resist the temptation to swing harder as this will add spin to the ball. Tee is a fraction lower, move the ball more towards the middle of your stance and swing easy.

What golf ball to play in wind

Try these balls out in windy conditions:

  1. Srixon Soft Feel
  2. Vice Drive
  3. Mizuno RB566V
  4. Bridgestone e12 Contact
  5. Wilson Duo Soft +


50 vs 52 Degree Wedge – Which Gap Wedge is Best?

That awkward in between yardage between a pitching wedge and sand wedge can mess you up really easily on the course. Making bogeys because you don't know how to get it on the green at certain distances HURTS.

My own experience with the in between distance shows it's my weakest shot. That was until I got myself a good gap wedge. But which wins the battle between 50 vs 52 degree wedge?

I believe that the 50 degree wedge is the best option for the average golfer looking to play three wedges. The average loft of a modern pitching wedge is between 44-46 degrees, leaving a big space between that and a sand wedge. A 50 degree wedge will plug that gap nicely.

However, a 52 degree wedge might suit your game better depending on how your bag is set up so let's get deep into the options you could game.

50 Or 52 Degree Wedge? What should I use?

The specific gap wedge you choose to game depends on the lofts of your pitching wedge and sand wedge. It also depends on the types of short game shots you play, or the yardage gap you have with full swings. 

In my search for golfing perfection I've used literally ever gap wedge loft possible. 50, 51, 52 and 53 degrees! When you look down at these wedges they can look like the same wedge, but trust me the subtle differences matter.

I now game a four wedge setup but it's not what I would recommend for most recreational golfers. I would suggest these amateur golfers opt for playing 3 wedges. They are:

  • Pitching wedge: 44-46 degrees of loft
  • Gap wedge: 50-52 degrees of loft
  • Sand wedge: 54-56 degrees of loft

Here's the set up I play:

  • Pitching wedge: 46 degrees
  • Gap wedge: 50 degrees
  • Sand wedge: 54 degrees
  • Lob wedge: 58 degrees

I just prefer having nice 4 degree gaps between by wedges. I allows me to dial in my average distance with each club and have more control over the golf ball. It also opens up my options for short shots and bunker shots in the green.

I play a lob wedge because I like having a club which can get the ball into the air quickly, and land soft on firm courses. However, it's not a golf club for everyone and many high handicap players are not comfortable playing with higher lofted wedges - approach with caution!

What Is A 50 Degree Gap Wedge Used For?

A 50 degree wedge is used either for full approach shots into greens or for short shots around the greens. Due to having less loft than a sand wedge, it's a useful club for playing lower trajectory pitch shots and chip shots.

I like to use my 50 degree wedge for full wedge shots in the 100 to 110 yard range. It flies really high and due to the medium bounce of the club, I find it has better turf interaction on these shots than my sand wedge, and much lower spin rates. To hit a sand wedge 110 yards would require a pretty firm strike which creates more spin which is uncontrollable. The gap wedge stops where it lands.

I will also use my 50 degree wedge for longer bunker shots as it travels further than sand wedges with more roll out. You can also use it very effectively for wedge shots into the wind, where it has less spin than a 56 degree wedge and therefore won't balloon up into the sky. Nobody likes that.

What Is A 52 Degree Wedge Used For?

With only 2 more degrees of loft than the 50 degree wedge, 52 degree wedges fulfills a very similar role in a player's golf bag, but with a few minor differences. 

More loft means less distance but more spin so a 52 degree wedge is useful for partial shots into the green and for a specific yardage on full shots. By creating less spin on the partial shots, you can account for some more consistent bounce and roll. A buddy of mine uses his 52 degree wedge with a three quarter swing for shots between 80-90 yards. He can't miss a green, it's quite amazing to see!

A 52 degree wedge is really useful for a bunker shot where the ball is plugged. You can't play these shots with a sand wedge without really manipulating the face of the golf club. You have to close the face so much that it points toward your shins. The 52 degree allows you to play a normal bunker shot and make solid contact. The ball should pop out with less spin and more roll.

50 Degree Wedge Distance

The average distance male golfers with average swing speed expect to hit their 50 degree wedge is 100 yards. This reflects a player taking a shorter swing which is advisable for wedge play. Those who are big hitters, or are skilled enough to play full shots can hit the ball as far as 125 yards with their 50 degree gap wedge.

Distance isn't everything with a wedge though. It's better to know the trajectory and how and when you will use these scoring clubs. Personally, I like to hit full shots with my 50 degree, but my brother in law will only use his for longer chip shots, it's all about comfort and preference. Play your own game!

52 Degree Wedge Distance

Again, more loft means less distance covered, and average golfers hit their 52 degree wedge a slightly shorter distance than a 50-degree - around 95 - 100 yards. Of course this depends on the lie of the golf ball, swing speeds and a number of other factors.

Most players will probably hit a 50 and 52 degree wedge the same distance. Distance control is a skill which takes time and practice to learn so I tell guys I play with to not obsess over wedge distance. Out on the golf course getting the golf ball in the hole is all that counts so most golfers should just choose the club which suits there game the best and feels great in their hands.

Best Bounce For A 50 Degree Wedge

Bounce is a mystifying concept for most golfers, but every golf club has one so we must understand what bounce is! I have written a full article explaining the concept, but in a nutshell, bounce is the amount of sole on the bottom of the wedge there is to literally bounce off the ground when you hit the ball. It's that simple.

Too little bounce and the club digs in to the turf or sand, too much bounce and it skims up off the ground quickly, causing you to thin the ball. Ouch.

So what is the best bounce for a 50 degree wedge? These wedges will typically have a low bounce, between 5-8 degrees. This is closer what you find on most pitching wedges. This low bounce is ideal for tight lies and players with shallow swings.

However, if you play in rainy and soft conditions, a 50 degree wedge with more bounce may be more suitable. It will also help you to get more bounce if your wedge swing is steep and you tend to dig with the leading edge.

50 Degree Wedge Shaft Length

The standard shaft length for a 50 degree wedge is 35.50". A 52 degree wedge is the same and other gap wedges will have a very similar length of shaft. Specialty wedges tend to have stiffer steel shafts but higher handicap golfers are putting graphite shafts in their wedges for more forgiveness and speed to gain spin and carry yardage. 

Manufacturers are always looking for ways to add distance so beware of gap wedges which come with iron sets, they may have longer than average shafts.

Which Should You Use? 50 or 52?

In summary, the 50 degree and 52 degree are very similar. One 52 degree with a certain bounce angle could go as far as a 50 degree with a different bounce angle. 

The ideal way to pick a 50 or 52 degree wedge is to pick the one that hits the exact distance that you are missing. Whatever gets the job done to hit your missing distance in the bag, is the one you should pick.

Sometimes the wedge gapping malarkey can blind golfers to the real truth that the gap wedge degrees don't matter. It's the distance you want to hit in between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge and also if you can use the club for many situations to make it a worthwhile addition to your bag.

Best Golf Ball Retrievers 2022 – Never Lose a Ball

Losing golf balls is part of playing golf but leaving the course with more golf balls than you came with is PROFIT! Golf ball retrievers can pay themselves off within 5 rounds of golf ball profiteering. 

Golf balls are expensive so finding them on the golf course can take the sting out of a bad shot, but finding a few that aren't yours is the cherry on the top. Since I moved to Thailand, I have seen the value of a golf ball retriever. Didi on my channel has one because there are so many water hazards on golf courses over here and he hasn't bought a golf ball in 8 years because he finds so many. 

You have to know which are the best golf ball retrievers, as all are not made equal. A sports fisherman would not use a junk fishing rod to catch the big salmon, just like you shouldn't use a junk retriever to catch yourself some $4 Pro V1! In this guide I have found the best golf ball retrievers on the market today so you can start profiting from your escapades in the everglades. 

I believe the ToVii Golf Ball Retriever is the best on the market.

Best Golf Ball Retrievers 2022

  1. ToVii Golf Ball Retriever (best all rounder)

  2. Search 'N Rescue Magic Gripper (best looking simple design)

  3. Prowithlin golf ball retriever (ideal for senior golfers)

  4. Callaway "15th Club" Pocket Golf Ball Retriever (best big name retriever)


Best telescopic design and hi visibility retriever head

tovii ball retriever

When I was in the USA recently I saw a lot of guys with this golf ball retriever in their golf bag. I was playing mostly desert golf, and golfers would be using this retriever to get their balls back from between rocks and from under spiky cacti avoiding the rattlesnakes. A playing partner said he would never go into the desert scrub again after seeing a rattle snake so this is essential gear.

The ToVii is available in two length options, 15ft and 18ft when fully extended. Guys who have used both said that the longer option was a little less sturdy and the shorter retriever was easier to control - sometimes the long one can bend and make difficult to pick up the ill gotten golf ball gains. The telescopic design is as smooth as silk and at only 19.4 Oz, this is a very lightweight retriever.

The high quality aluminum alloy shaft and rubber grip feel premium and the hard nylon retriever head will last for a long time. The orange head colour of the retriever head is also really useful when fishing balls out of water hazards as it stands out really clearly.

There's no fancy locking mechanism on this retriever. Golf balls fit perfectly into the head and pop out with a firm tap or push when you want them too. This is the best golf ball retriever on the market today.

Pros

  • Smooth telescopic design
  • Twist lock mechanism
  • High quality aluminum shaft
  • Hi visibility orange head
  • Fits in any golf bag

Cons

  • 18ft version isn't that stable
  • No locking mechanism on the head

Simple design which almost acts like a magnet for golf balls

magic gripper ball retriever

When I saw this golf ball retriever in action I couldn't believe my eyes. This thing will grab golf balls like they're magnetic, it's a pretty crazy thing to see!

Unlike other ball retrievers, the Search and rescue retriever is made completely from anodized aluminum and has no moving parts in the head. This is significant as it makes the whole unit very robust and reduces the amount of things which could go wrong.

The telescopic mechanism is smooth but it doesn't lock into place. I didn't find this to be an issue but it could be frustrating if your attempting to retrieve balls stuck in mud and the unit retracts.

Not the cheapest ball retriever on the market but the quality construction makes this one of the best golf ball retrievers out there.

Pros

  • All metal construction
  • No moving parts
  • Almost magnetic pick up qualities
  • Hi visibility orange head
  • Retractable to 20 inches for the 18 ft version.

Cons

  • Requires the golf ball to be clean to work effectively
  • No locking mechanism could get frustrating

Best golf ball retriever for seniors or those with a bad back

prowithlin ball retriever

The Prowithlin golf ball retriever is one of the most popular ball retrievers for older golfers. It is constructed from stainless steel - meaning it will never rust.

A 6ft maximum length means it isn't one of the longest ball retrievers in this guide, but this makes it one of the most solid I've used. There's very little bend in the stainless steel shaft and even the most hard to reach golf balls can be accessed with east.

The locking mechanism in the head takes a little bit of getting used to. Once you have the twist and roll motion down though, it's a breeze. it has a comfortable grip which is available in a number of different colours.

An added bonus with this retriever is that it also comes with a nifty little ball grabber that attaches into the handle. This means you don't have to break your back to pick bulls up off the green, making it a really solid option for senior golfers or those (like me) who have a bad back from time to time!

Pros

  • Stainless steel retriever - anti rust
  • Bonus golf ball grabber - saves your back 
  • Excellent locking spring release head
  • Compact retriever fits into any bag - even a side pocket

Cons

  • Head design takes some getting used to

High end ball retriever for a big name brand

callaway ball retriever

This Callaway golf ball retriever is the Rolls Royce of ball retrievers and is a good as you would expect from a product with the Callaway brand stamped on it. The only reason it's not top of the list is that it can be significantly more expensive than other golf ball retrievers.

This is called a "Pocket Ball Retriever" as it can be stored in a golf bag side pocket. It comes in both a 15" length and 6" length and it looks pretty inconspicuous. A nice feature of this retriever is the zip head cover. When it's in your bag, it looks like another golf club!

The high-quality aluminum alloy construction minimizes bending when it fully extended and the handle is really comfy. The "jaws' like retrieval mechanism is really sturdy and there is little risk of a golf ball falling out once you've got it.

Pros

  • Premium construction
  • Nice Callaway branded headcover
  • Best grip on any ball retriever out there
  • Sits nicely in a bag with your golf clubs
  • Picks up a golf ball with little fuss

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not as long as other retrievers

Longest golf ball retrievers

If you're in the market for the a longer ball retriever, these are the ones you want to consider:

There are other ball retrievers which have a shaft length beyond 18ft, but I've found these to be very unstable and will often break if they are extendable. If you need a retriever longer than say 20ft, look into buying a length of aluminum pipe and have a ball retriever attached to it.

Golf ball retrievers for water - what to look for

If you will be using a retractable golf ball retriever primarily for getting balls out of water hazards, then you need to consider a few key features to make sure you're buying the right golf ball retriever for the job. The things to consider are:

  • Visibility - can you see the head of the retriever when it's under the water
  • Construction material - if you will be submerging the retriever shaft in water, it needs to be made from and anti rust material like stainless steel.
  • Simple locking mechanism - water can make moving parts degrade over time, so a retriever with a simple mechanism to hold the ball in place is ideal

If you're losing way too many golf balls, you should check out the following guides on the recycled vs refurbished golf balls; the best golf balls for high handicappers so you can save some money and the best golf balls for high visibility to help you locate the retrievable golf balls.

Conclusion

If you're into to saving money a golf ball retriever could be the most important piece of golf equipment you own! For beginner golfers, lost balls will be common part of their golf game and having a ball retriever at hand to fish balls out of hazards will sometime allow you to find more balls than you lose.

A ball retriever is also essential for golfers you play in areas where the hazards really are dangerous - if there are snakes or other critters present. Don't be a hero and get the best ball retriever you can afford.

When To Use A 52 Degree Wedge – The Scoring Zone

Are you confused about when to use that weird club? It's not a sand wedge, it's not a pitching wedge so when do you use it? When I first stated playing golf in 1997, the concept of gap wedges didn't exist. You had a pitching wedge and then you had a sand wedge and that was that. 

But then, approach wedges and gap wedges were born. Finally here's a golf club which bridged the big gap in yardage between the pitching wedge (46°)‚ and sand wedge (56°)! Now we can plug the distance gap nice and easy learning when to use a 52 degree wedge. No more hard sand wedge hits, no more lazy, pulled pitching wedges - just committed swings all day. 

I think of a gap wedge like a hybrid. It's a club designed to give you more options and flexibility in the scoring section of the golf bag.

What is a 52 degree wedge?

A 52 degree wedge is also known as a gap wedge. You will most likely have an 8 to 10 degree difference between the pitching wedge and sand wedge in your golf bag. The 52 lets you fill the "gap" between your pitching wedge and sand wedge and give you more versatility for scoring shots.

A gap wedge will be a specialist wedge you have to either select as an extra to a set of irons or buy separately. All of the main iron and wedge manufacturers, from Cleveland golf to TaylorMade, produce a selection of 52 degree wedges for you to choose from. The top manufacturers also offer a variety of finishes, bounce options and sole grinds so you can find the best gap wedge for you.

Gap wedges look like a sand wedge but with 4 degrees less loft. The shaft length is around 37.5 inches. Most gap wedges have a steel shaft, but it's becoming more common for a lot of slower swinging golfers to put a graphite shaft in their wedges.

I recommend replacing you wedges every year if you play regularly - more than 3 times per week. New wedges have sharp grooves which provide consistent spin and therefore better control on your shots. Other options are to get a groove sharpening tool.

Now we know what a 52 degree wedge is, let's look at when you would want to use one out on the course.

when to use a 52 degree wedge always

When Should You Use A 52 Degree Wedge? 4 scenarios

  1. When your yardage to the hole is between your pitching wedge and sand wedge
  2. When you want a lower trajectory for chipping
  3. For long green side bunker shots
  4. Shots into the wind from 110 to 120 yards from the green

Scenario 1: Filling the gap between you pitching wedge and sand wedge

Tell me a secret and I won't repeat it: when was the last time you put in some serious practice to improve your golf game? If you're like most golfers who prefer to spend their valuable free time at the golf course rather than the driving range, my secret for you is that the gap wedge was designed for you.

Seriously, it takes time and practice (or a lot of natural feel) to be able to add and subtract yardage off clubs at will off your pitching wedge or sand wedge. A 52 degree wedge means no more difficult half shots with a pitching wedge or attempting to muscle a 56 degree. You make the same committed swing with each club, knowing that you should hit your desired number.

Plugging this yardage gap between your two scoring wedges is probably the best reason to add a 52 degree to your golf equipment. The average golfer hits their pitching wedge 110 to 120 yards and carry their sand wedge 90-95 yards. A 25 yard gap between clubs is not seen much anywhere else in the bag, so why would you have this situation with your money making clubs?

A 52 degree gap wedge will give you a solid option for those tricky yardages that we always leave ourselves. If you find yourself cursing every time you get that damn distance right between the pitching wedge and sand wedge, grab a gap wedge ASAP. 

Scenario 2: A lower trajectory chipping club

Amateur golfers are always in awe of PGA professionals hitting low chips which look like they are going too fast to hold the green, only to check up and stop by the hole. A 52 degree wedge isn't the secret to this type of shot, but it will help you hit the ball lower around the greens and get it rolling on the putting surface quicker. It's an essential short game club in my opinion.

Say you've left the ball a few yards short of the green and the pin is on the back tier. Yes you could try and fly it all the way back with a sand wedge or lob wedge, but this is a high risk shot if you don't practice it intently. It's usually better to get the ball on the the green as fast as possible and let it roll up to the pin. This bump and run style shot with a gap wedge is something I use a lot when there's sticky rough in front of me or when I can't use a 9 iron. Try this shot out with a 52 degree and see if it works for you.

Scenario 3: Awkward long green side bunker shots

awkward bunker shots with gap wedge

I might be the exception to the rule when it comes to bunker shots because I love them. Most players hate being left with a 20-30 yard shot from the sand, and ironically, it's what probably makes their ball seem magnetic to the traps!

Being a wizard from the sand makes you not fear being in sand bunkers and therefore means you are less likely to end up in one. That's just science.

Like the bump and run shot described in scenario 2, the 52 degree wedge allows more versatility from bunkers as you are playing with less loft. The great thing is, you don't have to make a different swing. You can hit the same bunker shot that you would with your sand wedge or lob wedge. Smack the sand behind the ball and watch as the ball pops out lower and further, with more roll out.

Having multiple loft options around the greens and in bunkers is essential when you're trying to slash your scores and get to the lower handicap.

Scenario 4: Full wedge shots into the wind from your sand wedge distance 

When you have a shot which is your usual sand wedge distance, being able to pull out the 52 with the wind into your face is a great option. Sand wedges produce high spin and if you hit them hard, they spin even more. If you hit them hard into the win, the spin plus the wind can reduce their distance up to 40 yards. This added spin will cause the ball to balloon up in the air, leaving it way short of your target.

The trick here is to loft down and swing easy to minimize the spin rate. When you swing a bit softer, you put a few less revolutions on the ball, which allows the ball to penetrate the wind instead of being caught by it. You can be confident that your 52 degree wedge has enough loft to maximize your spin and allow the golf ball to grab on the green when landing without getting sucked in by the breeze.

Never fear full shots with a wedge in windy conditions again!

52degree wedge distance

52 degree gap wedge distance

On a full shot, average golfers would expect to carry their 52 degree gap wedge between 100-120 yards. This is always dependent on you swing and ball speed but you will most likely be somewhere in this range.

The whole point of a gap wedge is to give you a yardage option between your pitching and sand wedges. If you are hitting any of these clubs a similar distance, it would be would be worth seeing a PGA professional to work out where you can make improvements. A lot of times, the bounce of the club combined with the loft can make a big difference in distance and spin rates. 

The top wedge fitters can optimize your loft, bounce and weight of your wedges. If you're a mid handicapper looking for a good wedge check out my guide and see which are the best gap wedges. High handicappers these are the best wedges for you.

More Options to a 52 Degree Wedge - do I need a lob wedge?

If the gap wedge doesn't sound like the club you need, but a higher loft option is what you want, you could go for a setup like this:

  • 48 degree pitching wedge
  • 54 degree sand wedge
  • 60 degree lob wedge

The lower lofted sand wedge could act as a kind of gap wedge in this scenario but it will take some skill and manipulation off the club face on some shots.

If the 52 degree sounds good, try this wedge configuration :

You could cut it down to 3 clubs too:

  • 46 degree pitching wedge
  • 52 degree gap wedge
  • 58 degree lob or sand wedge

I would say that going for a gapping session on a launch monitor like a TrackMan is really useful when trying to work out your wedge setup. You may find that two clubs are pretty bunched in terms of yardage. Even better would be to see a wedge fitter o a grass range where the grass is similar to your course conditions. By that, I mean don't get fitted for wedges on Florida bermuda grass, when you play cool weather bent grass and ryegrass fairways!

This isn't a disaster as you may want a specific wedge for certain short game shots or turf conditions. For example on a recent links golf trip, I added a lower bounce 60 degree wedge for partial shots on tight lies. I never intended to hit a full shot with it.

Final Thoughts: Should I Carry a 52 Degree Wedge

It wasn't that long ago that the gap wedge wasn't even an option for golfers. You were forced to make a half swing with your pitching wedge or muscle a sand wedge to nail that in between yardage and this could often end in disaster.

I think the 52 degree wedge or another gap wedge should be in every golfer's bag. As we have covered, it can be used for everything from chip shots to long bunker splashes and can give you consistent performance in the wind. It's a versatile club.

Head down to your local golf store and use this information to find the best gap wedges for you. 

Sand Wedge Bounce: 10 Or 14? How Much is Best?

Sand wedge bounce is one of those mystical topics everyone talks about and you even hear pros and other amateurs saying things like "use the bounce" when you're chipping or pitching. And you know what? No one knows what they are talking about.

So here's the real deal, no BS.

What is bounce in a golf wedge?

Bounce is the amount of sole on the bottom of the wedge there is to literally bounce off the ground when you hit the ball. It's that simple. When people tell you to use the bounce, there is no conscious notion of 'using the bounce'. To hit any golf shot, the club must bounce off the turf otherwise we just dig into the turf like a spade.

If you hit a chip, the club makes contact with the ground, bounces off the ground slightly and contacts the ball. The reason we need bounce in a club is so the turf interaction with the club is appropriate for the shot.

So if you play on soft ground, you want the higher bounce to be able to 'bounce more' when you hit the ball so the wedge does not get stuck in the soft ground. When you hit a wedge on firm ground, you do not want the golf wedge to bounce much off the hard surface. It will bounce, and then hit the ball in the equator, making you thin the ball into oblivion.

bounce explained in a picture

Is a Sand Wedge Bounce of 10 or 14 Better?

  • If your golf course has firmer ground and you clip the ball off the surface in fear of blading the ball, then you should get a wedge around 10 degrees of bounce. Usually your bunkers will also be firm so 10 degrees bounce in a sand wedge or less is best. 
  • If your course is softer and sometimes a bit moist, with soft lush grass, and you make divots after you hit the golf ball, use a sand wedge bounce of near 14 degrees. 

If you have the correct bounce angle on your wedges, you can hit more confident shots with your sand wedge. And as we know, the 56 degree sand wedge is a serious scoring club. 

Which is The Best Sand Wedge Bounce For Your Golf?

I've played golf in SE Asia, USA, South America and South Africa. That's kikuyu, bent, bluegrass, rye grass, paspalum, all strains of bermuda. With that, I've tried every wedge bounce and loft angle so I'd like to save you some time with this article to get the right wedge.

Deciding on the right sand wedge is a critical part of the game of golf. Golf courses are filled with hazards like deep rough and sand bunkers. The sand wedge generally has the largest bounce angle of all wedges as to help golfers get the ball out of sand bunkers and deep rough.

The sand wedge is there to get us out of these situations.

You can see my guide on how to get out of every bunker type as well as the video here.

You can check out my guide on how to chip and also the video series below. 

Most 56 degree sand wedges have a bounce of between 8 and 14 degrees. 

The best way to figure out the right bounce and degree angle of loft for your 56 degree, is to have a wedge fitting where you might be surprised by what they find!

Why Use a Sand Wedge With High Bounce (10 to 14 Degrees)?

Most golfers, by default, unless playing in the outback or some other hardpan golf course, should buy a wedge with higher bounce angle.

The wedge has been designed to 'bounce' off the ground to add forgiveness when hitting the golf ball. When you hit a hybrid, do you notice how much easier it is than a 4 iron? That's because of the wider sole and the 'bounce' that is also provides the hybrid golf club. It's a similar concept to the wedge. 

A sand wedge with high bounce is between 10-14 degrees of bounce.

You should use a sand wedge with the higher bounce if you 

  1. hit steep with your golf swing with deep divots
  2. Your wedge shots are often fat
  3. You golf course has soft ground, and soft fluffy bunkers
  4. Have more longer rough around the greens than tight short grass

Why Use a Sand Wedge With Low Bounce (6 to 10 Degrees)?

A low bounce sand wedge is for a golfer who plays on firmer conditions with much tighter lies than most course and a golfer who likes to see a more open club face at address. 

With a low bounce sand wedge, there is just a lot less sole in the bottom to bounce off the ground so a lot of the time, a golfer needs to catch the ball clean off the turf. This does not suit a high bounce wedge but more a low bounce wedge. When you have a low bounce wedge, you can change the face angle quite easily because there is less sole to pick the leading edge up off the ground. 

6 to 10 degrees of bounce is normal for a low bounce sand wedge. 

Lower bounce on a sand wedge is best for you it

  1. you have a shallow swing and your divots are minimal
  2. your course has firm ground and hard pan as well as firm sand in the bunkers
  3. you like to hit some spinny open-faced wedge shots like a wizard

What is the Best Bounce for a 56 Degree Wedge?

Sand wedges have 56-degrees of loft - usually denoted with an S on the sole of the club and there is sometimes even another number on the sole, indicating the bounce of the club. Usually the sand wedge that comes with the set of irons you buy is around 55 or 56 degrees without the bounce indicated. 

The best bounce for a 56 degree wedge for most golfer is about 12 degrees. This is a versatile number right in between the low end of 8 degrees and the high end of 14 degrees. You can play most courses with a 12 degree bounce sand wedge and enjoy your golf.

Which Bounce For Every Different Course Condition?

From my experience in all the conditions of the world I have seen, you can use a 12 degree bounce wedge for most, but some conditions really need a specific bounce on the 56 degree wedge. It's important to know when to use certain wedges

Soft Sand

Higher bounce is always the best choice in soft sand. The aim of bunker shots is to slide the club under the ball and skim that wedge to bounce up and let the ball out on a magic carpet ride. 12 to 14 degree bounce will work best.

How do you know if your sand is soft? When you hit the sand shot, does the sand fall back into itself and leave a very round divot in the bunker? That's soft. When you walk into the bunker, does it sometimes go up to your ankle? That's soft fluffy sand. 

Medium, Wet and Firm Sand

In firm sand, wet sand and medium sand, you need less bounce because the sand will not allow the fat sole to get in deep enough to allow enough space to bounce. You will blade the ball across the green a lot. 

I love to use wedges with 8 to 10 degree bounce angle for firm courses and firm sand, but 10-12 degrees of bounce for medium sand.

How do you know if your course is medium or firm? When you walk into the bunker, the sand will either not give way for firm sand, or will only dig your shoe in up to the rubber sole. Wet sand is pretty easy to identify. If it's wet, then the sand is wet. 

Deep Soft Grass Rough

From my time in the Eastern states of the USA, I found the wedge needed for soft long grass with soft conditions under the grass, a bounce of 10 to 14 degrees is preferable.

The soft under condition will need some extra bounce but the long grass can tangle the club face leading edge if there is not enough bounce. With more bounce, the club is heavy and thick soled, to glide through the grass.

Tight Lies in Fairways and Fringes Next to The Green

When you watch the Masters on TV, most of those pros will be using a variety of wedges but those tight lies will make your hair stand on end, thinking of blading it across the green in the hazards. 

A low bounce between 6°-10° will make you feel better about making crisp clean contact especially if you need to open the club face a little bit. When you use high bounce wedges on tight lies, the leading edge can often meet the ball in the equator and your score sky rockets. 

Best Wedge Company Sand Wedge Options

A lot of manufacturers are making great wedges and you can see a couple of my guides below:

Best wedge for mid handicappers if you play off handicap 9-16.

Best wedge for high handicappers if you play off handicap 17+.

Best sand wedge for bunkers if you have trouble getting out the sand.

Some of the best options on the market for different bounce and grind options:

  • Cleveland RTX 4 Sand Wedge (Many options: Full Bounce, Mid Bounce Low Bounce, X Low Bounce)
  • Cleveland Smart Sole 4  (Sand Wedge with huge bounce)
  • Titleist Vokey SM6 (5 different options and famous for wedge fittings)
  • Callaway PM Grind (Sand Wedge with big bounce)
  • Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (Sand Wedge 8-12 degrees of bounce)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the bounce of a gap wedge?

The usual bounce of a gap wedge is 8-10 degrees.

Can you use a sand wedge in the fairway?

Yes. You can hit a sand wedge from the fairway. Usually you will use it from between 10 and 80 yards depending on your preference for partial shots. It's a versatile club and can lower your scores with practice.

Can you use a 56-degree wedge in the sand?

56 degree wedges are called sand wedges and so most people will start golf playing this club out the sand. You can continue to do that or like me, you can start to use 58 degree wedges and for some golfers, even knowing when to use a 60 degree wedge is key. Whichever you choose, if you practice enough with it, you will get very efficient. 

What bounce wedges do the pros use?

When conditions were firmer and unfriendly in the old days, pros preferred low-bounce wedges, but current PGA Tour pros use wedges with between 12 or 13 degrees of bounce.

Final Thoughts

By now I hope you know enough about the bounce of a wedge to make an informed decision.

While your conditions and the way you strike the ball makes a big difference to the bounce you should use in your 56 degree, I highly recommend a wedge fitting. The pro will know your local conditions, your swing style and be able to set you up with a decent set of 2-3 wedges with the correct bounce and loft angle for you specifically.

When to Use a 56 Degree Wedge

We've all heard the golf saying "drive for show, putt for dough" but I think a more accurate version would be "drive for shot, wedge and putt for dough." Average golfers hit 65% of the shots in their round from inside 100 yards, and many of those are going to be with a wedge of some kind.

How many times have you met a buddy at the course and he's told you about his new wedge? Never, I bet. Golfers love to show off their new $500 driver but aren't that excited about a new wedge. I would probably bet most players have never, or will never replace their wedges.

The major problem is that many recreational golfers think that wedges are reserved for pro golfers and are not going to impact THEIR OWN game that much. I often get asked by high handicappers who watch my channel when to use a 56 degree wedge. I'll show you below how to get the most out of this important score-slashing club.

When should I use a 56 degree wedge?

For the majority of handicap golfers, the 56° wedge is an excellent choice for every shot inside 100 yards. 

A 56 degree wedge can be used for all of these shots:

  1. Green side bunker shots 
  2. Partial pitch shots between 20 and 80 yards
  3. Smooth full shots to the maximum distance you can control the ball
  4. Green side chipping
  5. Long bunker shots of 30-50 yards
  6. Chipping out of the deep rough back into the fairway
56 degree wedge shot

Here what we're going to cover in this article:

  • What is a 56 degree wedge?
  • One wedge or many wedges?
  • 56 degree wedge distance
  • 56 degree wedge vs sand wedge
  • Why use a 56 degree wedge?
  • How a 56 degree wedge can lower your scores

What is a 56 degree wedge?

A 56 degree wedge is often called a sand wedge. The number 56 refers to the number of degrees of loft that the club face has. It is one of the shortest clubs in the bag and is used to hit shots inside 100 yards. Despite being called a sand wedge, you can use the club for shots from the tee, fairway and rough. It's a great club to have in your golf bag.

One wedge or many wedges?

Approach 1 - One wedge:  I've seen a few golfers employ the one wedge tactic. They use their 56 degree wedge for every shot inside 100 yards, from full swings, to pitch shots and bunker shots. Pro Mo uses one wedge for everything and he is a professional, though he prefers the 58 degree.

I HIGHLY recommend this approach for wedging with high handicappers. It's much simpler to use this one club for everything inside 100 yards until you have enough skill to get the specialist lob wedge. 

There are a few reasons reason for doing this, the main one being to attempt to master one scoring wedge and eliminate any indecision from this important part of the golf course. It makes sense because using a sand wedge for everything, you learn how it interacts with different lies, turf and sand conditions. You can use this knowledge for the rest of your life.

bounce explained in a picture

If you do decide to go down this avenue and play with one wedge, here are the shots you will need to learn and master:

  1. The bump and run.  This is an essential shot for all golfers, especially higher handicappers as it reduces the margin for error when playing chip shots. Getting the golf ball rolling on the putting surface early is a better percentage play and can be achieved even with an average strike. To play the bump and run with a sand wedge, you will need to play the ball off your back foot, delofting the club to encourage it to roll out and not spin too much.
  2. Standard chip.  This may seem like the easiest shot to learn but its actually quite hard to master. You have to remove any wrist hinge and allow the loft of the sand wedge to pop the ball up in the air. You can then vary the length of your backswing and follow through to increase the height and distance the golf ball will travel.
  3. Flop shot. While not essential, if you are playing with one wedge you will need to learn how to open up the face of the club and generate more loft. The trick with a flop shot is to not decelerate and thin the golf ball. Play the ball off your front foot, take a wide backswing and commit to striking the ball high. Hopefully it will fly high into the air and land softly. Channel your inner Phil Mickelson.

Approach 2 - Many wedges: 

Each wedge can be a specialist tool to use for different shots around the green. We also want consistent gaps between wedges for full shots. I'm not the best at taking distance off my wedges so I want to be able to make a committed swing, knowing the wedge in my hand will make the golf ball go a desired yardage on full shots. 

When I'm around the green, I also like to assess the lie of the golf ball and choose the appropriate golf club for the job. I will use my 56 degree wedge for most shots, but I like to have options. Is the ball plugged in a bunker? I might close the face on my 52 degree gap wedge. Golf ball sitting on a hard pan lie on dry golf course? I'll use my lob wedge as it has less bounce. This approach is is best for if you have some experience playing golf.

I have played for 25+ years so if you're new to the game, or having a tough time inside 100 yards, you can select the 56 degree alone and get good with it. They usually come with a set of irons so no need to purchase a specific one. You just need to practice.

When you head to the golf course you want to be so confident with your approach shots that you can hit every chip shot onto the green and leave yourself a putt. We can always make putts. The more you practice and get comfortable with your selected club, you will play great golf and smash your scoring barriers.

56 degree wedge distance

A golfer with an average swing speed should be hitting their 56 degree wedge 75 to 100 yards. 

I'm a firm believer that you should never make a full swing with anything below a pitching wedge. A high lofted wedge is a precision tool and for consistent performance you need to make swings which you know will result in a tight dispersion.

Pro Mo on my channel uses the Dave Pelz clock system to dial in his wedge distances. This a technique also used by Bryson Dechambeau who used it to win the US Open. Explained simply, you take the club back to imaginary points on a clock face. If the bottom of your swing is 6 o'clock, a full swing would be up to 11 or 12 on the clock face. Learn which "time" on the clock gives you what yardage and repeat this process.

The key with all wedge play however is to make solid contact. Better golfers will be striking the centre of the club face with these short clubs giving them maximum distance control. Solid contact comes from practice and good technique. it's impossible to teach someone through text or video how to hit the ball solid with good technique. An in person lesson with a good coach will always be the best option. 

Quick tip: To work out where you're striking the ball on the face of the club, spray the head with dry shampoo before a practice session at the driving range. When you hit the ball, you will see a mark where it struck the face and you can adjust you swing and ball position to lock in a center strike.

56 degree wedge vs sand wedge

A 56 degree wedge is the most common loft for sand wedges and obviously is a great club to use out of bunkers. It's in the name - sand wedge.

Choosing the right wedge to use out the sand is based on the bunker conditions of your course - this will influence the bounce of the club you select. If the sand is soft and fluffy, you want more bounce and a nice big sole. Usually, soft fluffy sand accompanies soft and moist ground, where you want the same type of wedge - bigger sole and higher bounce.

If the course you play at is firm and hard, with firmer hardpan bunkers, you definitely need a thinner sole and lower bounce so the club will not skim and bounce up into the ball, causing a bladed shot. 

If a bunker shot isn't your strong suit, check out bunkers for beginners.

Why use a 56 degree wedge?

The 56 degree wedge is a club that every golfer becomes familiar with in their golfing journey. The score-slashing takes place inside 100 yards so the sand wedge is a club which you will be using a lot.

The average golfer may only need to play one lofted wedge, and a 56 degree wedge is probably the most versatile. You can use it from the tee, fairway, thick rough, and sand to play a variety of shots.

Yes a 60 degree may seem like the cooler option, but in reality it's not the best club selection for most golfers. A 60 degree wedge is just harder to hit. If you really want to play a lob wedge, consider a 58 degree. The truth is, a 56 has more than enough loft, and with some practice and creativity it can be your secret weapon and key to hitting more greens.If you have a gap between your pitching wedge and sand wedge, check out how to use a 52 degree wedge.

The 56 degree wedge is the key to lower scores

Believe it or not but a scratch golfer hits only around 10-12 of the greens in regulation in a round. Most double digit handicappers are hitting only 3 to 8 greens in regulation. That leaves between 12 and 15 holes to chip and putt to save scores. 

What these stats show is that you MUST have sharp short game regardless of your handicap! Getting up and down from around the green in 2 shots will be the difference between bogey and double and par and bogey. I bet that in every great round you had, you had periods where you were scrambling like a demon! Even the pros do this and the secret is their short game. 

Being a savage with your 56 degree wedge, learning how to play a wide variety of shots with it, will allow you be in greater control of your golf ball and your score. Hit an approach shot to the short side? Not worries, you're a demon with the sand wedge and you can get up and down. Hit it in the green side bunker? Easy life.

Many golfers neglect their wedge game for their driving. Don't be that guy. Fully utilize the tools you have at your disposal and GET IT ON THE GREEN! 

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