If you’re new to golf, you may be wondering what a Gap Wedge is and why it might be a club you would want to have in your bag.
A gap wedge is also referred to as an approach wedge.
History of the Gap Wedge
The gap wedge is aptly named because it was designed to bridge the gap between the sand wedge and the pitching wedge.
This “gap” refers to the difference in loft angles between these two clubs.
Traditionally, the sand wedge boasts a loft angle of around 54-56 degrees, while the pitching wedge has a loft of approximately 46 degrees.
Over time, iron sets in golf have seen a reduction in loft angles for various reasons.
Manufacturers sought to claim greater distances for their clubs, sometimes by de-lofting their iron sets by a degree or two, (but still keeping the club numbers the same. This lets the uninitiated think they are hitting their clubs further).
Additionally, advances in clubhead design, such as cavity-back designs in the 1970’s and club-faces with increased backspin in the 1990’s, led to higher launch angles and flight paths for clubs with the same loft as their predecessors.
However, sand wedges didn’t undergo the same reduction in loft because their primary purpose is to escape soft sand around the ball.
This left a considerable “gap” in loft angles between the pitching wedge and sand wedge, resulting in a potential 30-yard difference in distance with a full swing.
As a solution, golfers began carrying the pitching wedge from older sets, with a loft of around 50-52 degrees, to address this issue.
Recognising this need, golf club-makers started offering purpose-built wedges in this general loft range, which have since become known as gap wedges.
The Design of Gap Wedges
Gap wedges are loosely defined but typically have a loft between that of a pitching wedge and a sand wedge, falling in the range of 50 to 54 degrees.
Most players aim for a separation of 4 degrees between clubs, making the standard loft for a gap wedge around 52 degrees.
The bounce angle, which is the angle the sole makes to the ground at address, varies from 0 degrees to 12 degrees or more, depending on the loft.
Lower-bounce gap wedges are better suited for firmer lies, while higher-bounce ones are ideal for softer lies.
Some gap wedges offer adjustability, allowing golfers to fine-tune the club to their specific needs.
It’s important to note that labelling of gap wedges can be inconsistent across manufacturers, with some using “A” for “Approach” or other terms instead of “G” for “Gap.”
Controversy Surrounding Gap Wedges
The necessity of the gap wedge remains a topic of debate among golfers and clubfitters. Some argue that this club wouldn’t be needed if manufacturers hadn’t de-lofted their clubs to attract amateurs seeking more distance.
They suggest that reducing all loft numbers by one, making the pitching wedge a 9-iron and the gap wedge a pitching wedge, could be a simpler solution.
In contrast, club-makers maintain that modern golfers demand customisation, and offering a range of loft and bounce options allows players to choose what suits their style.
They also argue that technological advances have improved the performance of long irons, making them easier to hit well.
Some manufacturers now include a gap wedge as part of a matched iron set, addressing concerns about including difficult-to-use clubs.
What’s In my Bag
I am currently gaming a set of Callaway XR Pro irons and I have a Gap wedge in my bag.
Callaway call this model an AW which is 49°
I also have a XR-Pro Pitching wedge which is 44°, but then I switch to Vokey Wedges for my higher lofted wedges,
I am often alternating between using both a 56 degree Vokey SM8 and a 60 Degree Vokey SM9 but then sometimes taking them both out of my bag and just using a 58 Degree Vokey SM8