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Having played golf this morning, and landed in the opinion 6 bunkers on the first 5 holes, including a brilliant fairway bunker to green bunker shot on the 3rd, I was looking to review my own personal sand wedge, part of the Mizuno MX17 range. However, I could not find that so I chose to review the use of the sand wedge instead. It is an incredibly important club, not just in the sand, but around the greens and in deep rough too. Although you will hopefully not use it too much (barring todays performance) it is still a worthwhile club to spend a bit of money on, as bunkers can make or break your round!
What is the difference that a sand wedge gives you?
Basically, the sand wedge is the club which gives you the second amount of loft in your bag. Actually after the well named lob wedge, the sand wedge is an extremely open faced club, which really lets you get under the ball in order to get it out of the sand mainly, but there are many other uses for it too. You can also open the face of the club further to get more loft, aptly called a lob shout.
When you should break this out?
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you should use the sand wedge in bunkers around the green. In this situation you are hoping to real cut into the sand and behind the ball, allowing you to sweep the ball onto the green and stop it quickly by the flag.
However, there are many other situations where you should think about breaking this club out. After a poor drive for example, you have found yourself in deep rough and need a club to get you out of trouble and back on the fairway, this will do that. If you are behind a tree and need to get over it to reach the green - use this club. Finally, if you are around the green and need to chip on, trying to get the ball to stop rather than roll up to the flag, then this is the club to use.
Like all golf clubs, it really depends what you want to spend. You can pick up individual sand wedges for about £25-70 depending on the standard - however, you are far more likely to buy one as part of a set of clubs, as it fits in the iron category. I bought my mx-17's about 3 years ago for £319 and that was a moderately good set of clubs.
Essential for the golf bag.
If you play golf on a regular basis or you have never even picked up a golf club, chances are you will be aware that on an average golf course you are going to see small ditches full of sand. These of course are known as bunkers. The idea behind of bunker is to punish of golfer for a badly aimed or poorly played shot. Some courses will only have a few shallow bunkers whereas some courses can have literally hundreds of deep dangerous bunkers. When you play on a golf course there is one club that is designed exclusively for helping you get out of the sand and back onto the fairway or green. That club is known as a sand wedge.
I have been playing golf for many years now, I have been in hundreds of bunkers over the years, some pretty tame some really nasty. Without a sand wedge chances are I would still be there swinging away. So now let's take a closer look at what exactly a sand wedge is, how to use and what kind of sand wedges are out there on the market.
So first of all what makes a sand wedge different from other golf clubs? Well it's mainly the angle of the club face. A sand wedge will have a very open face, meaning when you look down at the club head the angle of the blade will be facing back up towards your head. Most sand wedges have angles of around 60 degrees, some even more so. This means that when you play a show the ball will shoot up in the air, thus hopefully leaving the bunker. That is the idea of a sand wedge, get the ball up quickly and out of danger.
To hit a sand wedge shot out of a bunker you need to get right under the ball. It is a good idea to shuffle your feet around in the sand so that you are balanced. According to the rules of golf it is illegal to ground your club in the bunker, this means that before you take your shot you can not pull your club in the sand, so no practice swings in the sand. When you play the shot aim to hit the sand behind the ball, this will get your club under the ball and pop the ball up in the air.
Sand wedges are not only used in bunkers. Many players will select sand wedges when they have short pitch shots into the green or chip shots around the green. If a player wants to get the ball up quickly out of the long rough this is also a time when he may select to use a sand wedge.
So if you are looking to purchase a sand wedge what should you be looking for? Well all the major golf manufactures make sand wedges so often it is just down to personal preference. Some players will select a very open face where as some may prefer less of angle. This is something to take into consideration. Another thing to think about is how thick the blade of the club is, a thin blade will usually be easier to get under the ball to get it out of the sand. One thing to be careful of is cheap sand wedges, these can be poorly balanced and make it awkward to get your shot just right.
When it comes to the price of a sand wedge it really depends on the make and condition of the wedge you select to buy. You can pick up cheap second hand ones for a few pounds or you can buy top of the range sand wedges and pay close to £100. It really is down to what kind of club you want and how much you are willing to spend.
A send wedge is a vital component of any golf players golf bag. This is a very useful club that can be used to play a variety of shots. If you find yourself regularly visiting the bunkers then this is a very useful tool indeed. This will help you get out of the bunkers and even control your shot so to get it to land in the right place when you use it. Sand wedges really are a very important golf club that every golfer should consider getting hold of.
For those who don't know the ins and outs of the game, golf can appear to be a confusing sport - not only are there a variety of balls to use, but also a multitude of different clubs to get to grips with. Many sets of golf clubs comprise a three iron to a pitching wedge, whilst others range from a one iron to a sand wedge.
A question of loft
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You've probably worked it out already, but if you hadn't... the sand wedge is a club specially designed for getting your ball out of a bunker, and will be the second loftiest club in your bag after the lob wedge. In fact, many sand wedges specify the angle of the clubface (loft) printed on the clubhead, with the larger number meaning that the ball will potentially have a higher trajectory should you strike it cleanly. For the record, the standard loft for a sand wedge is between fifty-five and fifty-seven degrees.
In what situation should I use my sand wedge?
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So we've established that the sand wedge is great for getting your ball from the sand - but it's also very effective from thick rough, or from the 'short stuff' on the fairway - a well struck sand wedge shot can potentially carry to around ninety yards with a towering trajectory - pretty handy if you're fairly close to the pin and need to get your ball to safely traverse a stream or other nasty hazard. But what about alternatives to the sand wedge? Well, many players actually prefer to use their lob wedge from the bunker - and depending on a number of determining factors (moistness, depth, and courseness of the sand) it can be just as effective - however, for the amateur player, I would personally recommend sticking with the sand wedge. This is becase of its unique construction, and in particular, the shape of its base or 'sole'. Basically, the sand wedge has a thicker and rounder base, and this is frequently given a 'bounce' rating, again in degrees. Wedges with no degrees of sole bounce will dig into the sand when you play your shot, wheras the ones with fifteen or so degrees of bounce will skim across the surface - perfect for playing the handy 'splash' shot from dry, fluffy sand. For the average club player, I would recommend a sand wedge with around eight degrees of bounce.
How much should I spend on a sand wedge?
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The cost of your sand wedge will depend on the manufacturer - I would personally recommend any of Titleist or TaylorMade's current crop of wedges - although, as they're premium brands, you will be paying at least £40 or £50. It is worth spending a bit of money on your wedge, as the cheaper ones sometimes don't feel as balanced as their more expensive counterparts - however, if you do want a decent budget option, then I normally find that the MD golf range is very respectable (often available for under £20).