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.