The Purpose of an Approach Wedge in Golf

By Steve Silverman

An approach wedge, also commonly called a gap wedge, is used by golfers when a pitching wedge is too much club on the golfer's approach to the green. Less than 20 years ago, golfers had two wedges in their golf bags - a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. The technology has changed to the point that golfers use a pitching wedge, an approach wedge and a lob wedge on their trek to the green. 

Loft of Approach Wedge

The approach wedge generally has a loft of 50 to 54 degrees, though some manufacturers have lofts as low as 46. It has more loft than a pitching wedge and less loft than a sand wedge. It is used on short shots to the green when the golfer wants to hit the ball high and land it softly.

Uses of the Approach Wedge

The approach wedge can be used on shots from 50 to 80 yards. The gap wedge will help the golfer get over bunkers, water hazards and trees and is quite accurate. A well-struck approach wedge should be able to land anywhere between 10 and 15 feet from the hole and should stop quickly or even back up if the golfer follows through and puts backspin on the ball.

Distinguishing Characteristics

The approach wedge has a flat bottom, much the same construction as a pitching wedge. Unlike the sand wedge, the approach wedge is made for hitting off firm surfaces or even the rough -- but not the sand. It is unlike the sand wedge, which has a rounded bottom which causes the club to bounce off the sand and help drive the ball out of the bunker.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.


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