One of the most overlooked aspects of the short game for golfers is the bounce on a golf wedge. Most golfers don’t understand wedge bounce, so they pick a degree of loft on their wedge and move forward.
However, the incorrect bounce can cause you to have trouble executing shots on the golf course, it can create inconsistent strikes and ball flights. Worst of all, it can affect your confidence, with the feeling of a dreaded fat or thin shot around the green.
As Bob Vokey famously said – “Bounce is your friend”. Here we’ll help you understand why.
What is bounce on a wedge?
The bounce on a wedge is the angle between the leading edge of the club and the sole of the wedge. When you look at your golf wedge, you will notice that the bounce angle can be seen by looking at the area of the club that rests on the ground when you are setting up to hit.
The higher bounce angle wedges will keep the leading edge of the golf club elevated and above the turf at setup. Lower bounce wedges keep the leading edge pointed a bit more down.
Why does wedge bounce matter?
The bounce on your wedges dictates what part of the club face you will present to the golf ball, and consequently, where you will strike the ball on the club face. A higher bounce and a fuller grind sole will result in a lower strike on the face. Whereas, a lower bounce and a flatter sole will result in the ball contacting the face higher up.
This may sound super technical, and possibly unimportant, but when you try low and high bounce wedges you’ll realise just what a difference it can make.
Where should I aim to strike the ball on the club face?
For full iron shots you’re looking to strike 4-5 grooves up on the club face, pretty much in the middle of the club face. Whereas for wedge shots you are aiming to strike slightly lower, the 2nd to 5th grooves. Striking here produces a lower flight, more spin and a more consistent trajectory.
The correct wedge bounce helps you gain more control and better spin and more consistency around the green. Some golfers find that their strike is inconsistent around the greens and they play in fear of fatting or thinning wedge shots. This can be due to technique, but you’d be surprised how much the correct bounce and grind can help with these issues.
The bottom line is that wedge bounce matters, and with it being an option for you when purchasing your equipment, it makes sense to choose a wedge bounce that is best suited for your game.
A guide to low, medium & high bounce wedges
Almost all golf manufacturers have three different wedge bounce options to choose from; low, mid, and high bounce. Understanding the differences between these can help to fine-tune the performance of your short game.
It is worth mentioning ‘low’ and ‘high’ are relative to the wedge loft. A sand wedge bounce options run from 8º to 14º, whereas a lob wedge bounce options can run from 4º to 12º. ‘Low bounce’ means its the low option for that particular wedge/loft.
Low Bounce Wedges
A low bounce wedge will have around 4 to 8º of loft. Low bounce wedges are designed to help you strike higher up the club face, the wedge will also continue to travel forward rather than ‘bounce’ when it hit the ground. When a golf ball sits in tight grass, the low bounce wedge helps make it easier to hit the ball cleanly.
If you struggle with thin golf shots, feel the club bounces off the turf too much and/or find you’re hitting the bottom groove when chipping, it would be a good idea to try out a lower bounce wedge. These are also well suited to golfers who ‘sweep’ their chip shots, meaning they have a shallow angle of attack.
Lower bounce wedges are often more adaptable, making it easier to open the face and hit shots from tight lies. Think Phil Mickelson full flop shot territory.
Mid Bounce Wedges
The mid bounce wedges are the most popular of all the golf wedge bounce options. With mid bounce being more versatile, it also works for a large range of golfers. The amount of bounce on a mid bounce wedge is between 6 and 10º depending on the wedge.
Most of the time, golfers end up with a mid bounce sand wedge, as that is what is most commonly sold. You can play this from mid to firm turf conditions, and it’s quite versatile.
It’s tricky to be more descriptive other than stating it sits in between the function and performance of the low and high bounce wedges described above and below.
High Bounce Wedges
A high bounce wedge is the maximum amount of bounce angle that you can get on a given wedge. This is anything over 8º of bounce angle but could be as high as 14º on a sand wedge.
High bounce wedges are great for soft turf, soft sand, and any type of bunker shot (as long as it is not hardpan).
The high bounce wedges are best suited for golfers that want to feel the club digs less into the ground. Higher bounce wedges are also a great option for golfers who hit too high up on the club face and hit that annoying ‘pop up, no spin shot’ when chipping and pitching – yes believe it or not this can be caused because you have the wrong bounce.
The downside of high-bounce wedges is that they can be less adaptable when opening up the club face, as the leading edge can raise off the ground considerably. However, this can be resolved by pairing your high bounce wedge with the right wedge grind, see this link for more.
How do I know which wedge bounce is right for my game?
The descriptions above should give you an insight into what you might need, but you can’t beat in-person testing. We’d suggest golfers opt for a mix of bounce options to cater for different scenarios they’ll encounter. However, there are a few factors that may suggest you want to opt for more low or high bounce options.
Here are the things to consider when choosing the proper bounce angle.
A DIY way to check your strike pattern
You can draw a Sharpie line on your ball and hit some shots to find out more about your strike pattern. Is it high or low on the club face? If the line is angled, it suggests you may benefit from slightly flatter or more upright lie angles on your wedges.
For the most part, the harder the turf condition, the lower you want the bounce on the club to be. If you play firm, tight fairways, look for low bounce wedges. High bounce wedges are good for softer turf conditions and fluffy grass and sand.
Of course, this has always bothered me a bit because I don’t know exactly what turf conditions I’ll be looking at before any given round. Therefore I like to mix up wedges and have some mid bounce wedges thrown into the mix to accommodate for this.
This is where the picker or digger concept comes into play. Golfers that dig the club down into the ground usually like the feel of a high bounce wedge. This higher bounce allows the trailing edge to move through the turf uninterrupted.
If you approach the ball with a more shallow angle or a neutral swing style, the low and mid bounce wedges are traditionally a better fit.
Wedge Loft (Purpose of the wedge in the bag)
Instead of turf conditions, which most golf manufacturers like to harp on when choosing a wedge, I like to think about the purpose of my golf wedge and what I will use it for. A key test is if the wedge loft, bounce and grind configuration allows you to play the shots that are important for your golf game.
Are wedge bounce and grind the same thing?
Wedge bounce and grind are similar but not the same thing. Some golf wedges, like a Cleveland ZipCore wedge, will just have options for low, mid, or high bounce wedges. Golfers won’t find grind options to choose from the same way they do with companies like Callaway or Titleist. Check out our latest article on the best wedge grind.
Grind takes the sole of the wedge and shapes it slightly differently so that it works for players in different turf situations or who have various playing styles.
When you look at the Vokey lineup of wedges, you will notice that the grinds are categorized into mid, low, and high bounce. For instance, you can get an M grind wedge in a mid bounce but not in the high bounce.
The M Grind is for players who like to rotate the face open. With the higher bounce angle, it’s not always best to manipulate the clubface open quite as much. So your loft, grind, and bounce combinations all have to match up when dealing with the Vokey design wedges.
If you are purchasing a wedge and there are no options for grind, this is not a problem. However, if you can choose that grind shape and the more detailed level of performance that a wedge grind can offer, it’s well worth taking advantage of.
For a detailed dive into wedge grinds check out this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wedge bounce and grind bring up quite a few questions, as it is not necessarily something that golfers have focused on in the past. Here are a few that come up frequently. If there is a question you can’t find the answer to just drop us a comment at the end of this article.
Is 12 degree bounce too much?
Twelve degrees of bounce is not too much for a sand wedge or for a shot out of the rough. However, it can be too much for a tight lie where you try to hit a flop shot.
What is the best bounce for a 56 degree wedge?
The best bounce for a 56-degree wedge depends on your swing style, course conditions and shot selection. 10 – 12 degrees of bounce is very safe and adaptable for many situations.
Is high bounce more forgiving?
High bounce wedges tend to be more forgiving if you tend to catch the ground before the ball and tend to dig the leading edge in. However, if you struggle with thin shots from tight lies you’ll find a low bounce wedge offers more forgiveness.
Hopefully, you now feel like a wedge bounce expert. Don’t overlook this area of your game, it really makes a difference to how you play golf and how forgiving you find your wedges.
Why would Vokey have so many different wedge combinations if wedge bounce didn’t matter? Putting just a little bit of time and research into your wedge-buying decisions can make all the difference.
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