As an amateur golfer, you might have a few wedges in your arsenal. For most beginners or weekend warriors, you will notice they have two different wedges in their kits.
The pitching wedge and the sad wedge are the two most common options on the market today. However, what is the sand wedge or 56-degree wedge used for when playing golf?
As you can probably deduct from the name, the sand wedge works best when players need to get out of the sand. Generally, golf course designers would place at least one and often two bunkers close to the green, adding a little trickery and making it harder for the player to approach. If you land in one of these bunkers, the sand wedge could save you.
If you have not used the sand wedge before, you are missing a lot from your game. In essence, many professional golfers can have up to four wedges in their bags. These include the pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and gap wedge.
In this article, we will explore the practical uses of the sand wedge.
What Is The Purpose Of The 56-Degree Wedge?
Before you look at the many benefits and features of the 56-degree wedge, you must understand its purpose. As we have already mentioned, most people refer to this wedge as the sand wedge, which is commonly used by players when trapped in bunkers to help them get out of the bunker.
Gene Sarazen is the legendary brain behind the sand wedge, which was originally invented for use back in the 1930s. Since the advent of the club, it has become somewhat of a staple in the kits of many golfers.
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The sand wedge is also the heaviest club you will find in the kit of most golfers and will offer plenty of benefits to the player. Due to the additional weight, the golf club can generate more force or momentum when playing shots. The additional momentum or force will keep the club from constantly digging into the sand.
When Should You Use The Sand Wedge?
Once you understand what the sand wedge is and why it is used, you should also consider when is the best time to use it.
If you don’t find yourself having to deal with any of the following scenarios when playing, the sand wedge might not be the ideal club for your needs. However, most golfers will encounter these situations often:
1- Playing From The Sand
The first one is probably a given, and as the name indicates, the sand wedge operates best when playing from the loose sand.
When playing from the sand, the additional weight will provide some momentum, and this will help “scoop” the golf ball out of the sand. It has enough loft to clear not only the sand but also the rim of the bunker.
2- Thick Rough
Many modern golf courses have a small fringe that separates the green from the rough. Nowadays, the thickness of the rough seems to be increasing, which makes it harder to use your general-purpose golf clubs.
Thanks mainly to the high bounce angle of the sand wedge, players can rely on the club significantly when it comes to cutting through the rough and lodging the ball onto the green.
As mentioned, the additional weight also ensures better momentum, making the golf club more efficient at clearing some obstacles.
3- Clearing Small Trees
Compared to some of your irons, the sand wedge might not have enough lofts to overcome the largest trees on the golf course.
However, the little bit of loft that it offers will be more than enough to clear smaller trees closer to the green.
The ball might not travel as far, but when your swing speed and timing coincide, you could loft the ball over these smaller trees.
4- Occasional Fairway Shots
The lob wedge aims to give you distance, while the pitching wedge allows you to pitch the golf ball onto the green from the fringe.
However, the sand wedge can be the perfect golf club when these wedges are not the best option to use.
With the help of the lob wedge, you can quickly overcome some of these “no man’s land” shots, ensuring you reach your target.
5- Fringe Shots
The sand wedge is by no means designed for the fringe, but the design of certain greens could make it useful. If you are a fair distance from the pin and the slope on the green is erratic, you might want to eliminate the bounce and drop the ball as close to the pin as possible.
The sand wedge is the perfect club to get some air under the ball while preventing any bouncing. When played correctly, you can lob the ball into the air, and it should stop almost as soon as it lands.
This will be the ideal club from the fringe when you are a fair distance from the pin on the other side of the green with a tricky slope.
How To Improve Your 56-Degree Wedge Shots?
Once you know when and where it is best to use your sand wedge, you might be a little iffy when it comes to perfecting these shots. There are a few important pointers that could assist you in improving your shots and creating the perfect shots.
Here are some of the best tips we could find to improve your shots with the sand wedge:
1- Control The Power
We have already mentioned that the sand wedge is one of the heaviest, if not the heaviest, golf club in your arsenal. If you look at the science of force and momentum, you can understand that using more force will generate more momentum. This could lead to over-hitting the club, which means the ball will travel farther than anticipated.
Ideally, you don’t want to swing with more than 80% of your total effort if you are to get the best use of your shots and golf clubs.
2- Adjust Your Stance
The next important factor to keep in mind is that you might need to adjust the stance of your game. The sand wedge is one of the shorter clubs in your arsenal, so you might want to stand closer to the golf ball when playing.
This will help you control the shot’s overall power and improve your game.
3- Play Through The Shot With More Control
You will need to control the shot better when you are playing, and with the additional weight of the golf club, it could potentially fly even further than you are expecting.
You want to ensure a smooth follow-through for the club, which ensures that you can effectively reach your goal and play the best possible shots.
4- Adjust The Weight Distribution
One thing you might want to keep in mind is how your weight would be distributed. With more weight distributed on your front foot, you might have better control over your shots.
It is best to focus on having about 60% of your overall weight on your front foot to ensure that you can effectively play these shots.
The video below shows how to hit the perfect wedges.
Should I Buy An Expensive Sand Wedge?
Sand wedges are primarily designed by the top golf club manufacturers in the world. You will find them ranging in price, with some of the top models easily coming close to $300.
However, the sand wedge does not need to be expensive, and if you feel comfortable with one of the cheaper models, it should work wonders to improve your game.
Do You Need The Sand Wedge In Your Arsenal?
If you plan to play at a high level, the sand wedge is certainly one of the top clubs you should consider for your game. The versatility it offers when compared to other clubs will be useful, and you would want to make the best of each shot to ensure you have the right club to play the right shots when needed.
The best bet would be to have all four of the wedges in your kit, as each of these wedges could make a big difference when playing your game. However, these wedges might be too expensive for amateurs looking to buy all of them.
And the combination of the sand wedge and the lob wedge would be the ideal starting position for many players.
The game of golf can be tricky, and with modern courses having new and unique obstacles that often make courses harder, the sand wedge can be one of the best golf clubs for you to consider.
We would recommend that each golfer tries to have at least one sand wedge in their arsenal, giving them the versatility for some of these shots.
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