Warning: This article gets a bit technical. As a general rule, I try not to bore my audience, but if you’re looking to answer the question “What does bounce mean on a wedge?” we’re going to have to zoom in on some golf club engineering.
So hang onto your [golf cart] seat, we’re about to have some fun!
But first, a little context:
Many golfers know about wedge loft, but have no idea what wedge bounce is or how it can influence their short game. When it comes to chipping and pitching, the right wedge bounce can work to your advantage. Even if your technique isn’t flawless, a carefully-designed golf club will give you a better approach shot than you deserve. Wedge bounce (and grind) are two measurements that engineers use to produce high-performing golf clubs.
Most club fitting specialists will tell you that the average golfer benefits from wedges with a higher bounce angle, but every player is different, so it’s crucial to understand how bounce can enhance your game.
What does bounce mean on a wedge?
Wedge bounce is the angle formed between the ground and the leading edge of the club when the sole is touching the ground.
I warned you that this article would be technical, so my apologies for the somewhat complicated definition.
Maybe a picture will help.
The original idea for that diagram came from TGW (a great place to buy golf equipment, by the way…). Anyhow, I thought I should give credit where credit was due.
The bounce on a sand wedge (often a 54 or 56 degree wedge) or lob wedge will make a significant difference in your golf course performance. Bounce helps the wedge move out of and through the surface rather than digging into the turf or sand.
Put another way: The purpose of bounce is to keep your club’s leading edge from burrowing into the ground. A high bounce isn’t for everyone, but as you’ll see below, a high bounce wedge will benefit certain golfers.
What are the different types of wedge bounce?
Low Bounce Wedges
- Degree of Bounce: 4° to 6°
- Best Used: On firm ground where the club will “bounce” on its own
- Good for: Flop shots
- Who they’re for: Players who don’t typically leave much of a divot
Low bounce wedges typically have a bounce angle of 4°-6° and are best used on firm grass and in bunkers with tougher or coarser sand, where the club will tend to skip off the ground on its own. A low bounce wedge is also a good fit for players who have a shallow angle of attack and take little to no divots on their wedge shots. Wedges with lower bounce promote clean contact and greater precision. They’re a popular choice for shots with a tight lie and for hitting high flop shots.
Mid Bounce Wedges
- Degree of Bounce: 7° to 12°
- Best Used: On typical turf and sand conditions
- Good for: Most course conditions
- Who they’re for: Players who have a neutral attack angle
Mid bounce wedges (also known as standard bounce wedges) are the most adaptable wedges, with 7°-12° of bounce. They perform well on firm to standard turf and accommodate all swing types, but work best with swings that have a neutral angle of attack. Because they are designed for control, a standard bounce wedge is the logical choice for most golfers.
High Bounce Wedges
- Degree of Bounce: 12° or more
- Best Used: On soft turf and loose sand
- Good for: Most course conditions
- Who they’re for: Players who have a steep attack angle often take deep divots
High bounce wedges have more than 12 degrees of bounce to help keep the club’s leading edge from digging into the ground. High bounce wedges are ideal for golfers who have a steep angle of attack and take large divots. High-bouncing clubs perform well on softer turf and lies. They also help with a sand shot from bunkers with softer or fluffy sand. High bounce wedges are notorious for producing a lot of spin, which can help you gain more control in your approach shots.
Does wedge bounce matter?
Absolutely. Wedge bounce, especially on a gap wedge or sand wedge can be tailored to your specific swing. By using a golf wedge with the right wedge bounce, you can maximize the distance and accuracy of each shot.
Side note: I wouldn’t worry too much about bounce on pitching wedges, but it really does matter for gap/lob/approach/sand wedges.
How do I use bounce to my advantage?
My first suggestion would be to know your typical attack angle. You could learn this through one session with a club fitter or golf pro. You could also just assess your typical shots on a golf course — do you take big divots or little to no divots at all?
From there, you can decide which wedge bounce you should favor in any given condition. To say that you can use bounce to your advantage might be a bit misleading. It would be better said that playing with the right bounce can give you an advantage on your wedge shot.
When you pull out a golf wedge, there is one key to engaging the bounce, and it has to do with shaft lean at impact or how far your hands are ahead of the ball. If your hands are too far ahead, you are effectively de-lofting the club and activating the front edge of your wedge, negating the benefit of the bounce. Because the club is digging into the ground before making contact with the golf ball, this mistake may result in the dreaded chunk shot.
There are a few scenarios in which bounce can either assist or hinder you. Playing a shot with a high-bounce wedge on a tightly cut fairway with the somewhat firm ground can actually force you to blade the ball. However, these situations are not typical on the majority of golf courses, which is why a mid bounce or standard bounce wedge is the most versatile option.
If you want to reap the full benefits of the bounce on your wedge, don’t lean too far ahead of the golf ball as you address it. You also want to keep your hands from getting too far ahead of the ball during impact. Too much shaft lean will prevent this from happening.
One simple golf tip is to imagine your hands arriving at the ball at the same moment as the club head.
What is wedge grind?
Wedge grind is the intentional removal of material from the sole edge of the club to help improve contact with the turf. This is also referred to as sole grind.
In layman’s terms, the sole grind refers to the additional shaping of the wedge’s sole. Many wedge manufacturers are now offering a variety of sole grinds to suit specific turf conditions or shots.
A heel grind, for example, will remove material from the sole’s heel to allow the face to sit lower to the ground, making it easier to open the face at address. However, sole grinds alter the bounce of the sole, therefore it is critical to seek assistance from a teaching specialist on the types of grinds that will work best for your game.
See the Vokey Wedge page to learn more about different grinds.
After a wedge is formed, the club head is treated to give it a particular appearance and color. This is entirely a matter of personal taste and opinion, as different finishes will have almost comparable levels of feel. However, it is important to consider how each finish will wear over time. Finishes such as chrome or nickel will keep their color and appearance for a longer period of time.
Darker finishes (like my black pitching wedge) look really cool at first, but the paint will wear off on the sole and face with over time. This wear and tear leaves obvious scuff marks that can’t be easily repaired.
Lingering Wedge Bounce Questions
So we’ve fully addressed the question: What does bounce mean on a wedge?
Here are some other frequently asked questions on the topic:
Are higher bounce wedges more forgiving?
Yes, higher bounce wedges are more forgiving when a golfer is hitting out of loose sand or soft turf. They are especially forgiving for golfers who have a steep attack angle and take deep divots.
However, higher bounce wedges can actually hurt golfers when played in the wrong conditions or paired with the wrong swing type.
Does wedge bounce affect distance?
Yes, wedge bounce can affect distance in a dramatic way. Keep in mind the ultimate purpose of wedge bounce…to help the club move smoothly through the turf. If the club moves smoothly through the turf, that should result in better ball contact and better distance.
What wedge bounce do I need?
That depends on your swing type and typical playing conditions. As a general rule, if you don’t take much of a divot on your shots, you need a low bounce wedge. If you tend to take large divots, you need a standard or high bounce wedge.
See a club fitter for specific tailored insights. From there, you can decide if you need to buy some new golf clubs.