The march of golf technology has led to ever increasing numbers of specialist and highly customized clubs and when it comes to golf wedges that trend has been very clear.
Long gone are the days of golfers simply choosing a standard pitching and sand wedge and in its place have come wedges with seemingly infinite different loft, grind, bounce and finish options.
The pros are always at the forefront of the latest wedges so to see what we can learn from the best we’ve taken a detailed look at what wedge set ups of the top 100 players on the PGA Tour to find out the latest on what wedges they are using?
70 different wedge models made by 15 manufacturers are used by the top 100 PGA Tour players with Titleist by far the most used wedge brand. 4/5 of this elite group use 4 wedges including a pitching, gap, sand and lob wedge of varying lofts from 46° to 64°. The most common bounce wedge used is 10.
That breakdown only gives us part of the picture when it comes to the wedges being used on the PGA Tour however and after analysing the wedges in detail it is fascinating to see the players choices and the trends which emerge such as the rise of the specialist pitching wedge.
[Note – If you are interested in a wedge upgrade you can check out the wedges used by the top 100 players on the PGA Tour mentioned in this article on Amazon through the links added below.]
How Many Wedges do Pros Carry?
The pros tend to tinker with their golf club set up alot depending on where they are playing and the conditions they will be up against in any particular week.
But when we looked in detail at the wedge set up of the top 100 golfers on the PGA Tour there were some clear indicators in terms of the most common wedge set up the players prefer.
80% of the top 100 PGA Tour golfers use 4 wedges with the other 20% using 3. The most common wedge set up used by 51% is a pitching wedge that matches their irons, & 3 specialist wedges including a gap wedge ranging from 50° to 52°, a sand wedge from 54° to 58° degrees & a lob wedge from 58° to 63°.
Players, such as Phil Mickelson, can very occasionally a 5th wedge to give them even more options for shots inside 125 yards, but that is a rare occurrence compared to the increasing trend for the best pros to choose a specialty wedge in place of the standard pitching wedge which comes as part of their iron set.
[Editor’s note – For our purposes we class a ‘specialty wedge’ as a wedge which isn’t sold as part of an iron set. Examples include Titleist’s Vokey range, Callaway’s Mack Daddy and Cleveland’s RTX wedges to name but a few]
Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Cameron Smith and Patrick Cantlay are just a selection of some of the top 100 who are opting for the specialty wedge approach across all their wedges.
The arguments for doing this are that the narrower and deeper milled grooves give a more penetrating ball flight and more consistent spin while the increased grind and bounce options allow for increased shot creativity.
Some commentators note that this trend is appearing across the younger generation of the PGA Tour with the older guard opting to stick with their iron set matching pitching wedge but irrespective of age the trend of using specialty wedges exclusively is one we clearly noted.
The table below provides a complete breakdown of the number of wedges used by the top 100 golfers on the PGA Tour.
|NO. OF WEDGES||NO. OF SPECIALTY WEDGES||WEDGES||NO. OF TOP 100 PGA TOUR PLAYERS|
|3||3||PITCHING WEDGE (46° to 48°)||10|
|GAP WEDGE (52° TO 54.75°)||8|
|SAND WEDGE (56° TO 59.75°)||3|
|LOB WEDGE (60°)||9|
|3||2||PITCHING WEDGE (matches iron set)||9|
|GAP WEDGE (51° TO 54°)||8|
|SAND WEDGE (56° TO 58°)||4|
|LOB WEDGE (60 to 62°)||6|
|3||1||PITCHING WEDGE (matches iron set)||1|
|GAP/UTILITY WEDGE (matches iron set)||1|
|LOB WEDGE (60°)||1|
|4||4||PITCHING WEDGE (46° to 48°)||28|
|GAP WEDGE (50° TO 52.5°)||28|
|SAND WEDGE (54° TO 57°)||27|
|LOB WEDGE (58° to 64°)||28|
|4||3||PITCHING WEDGE (matches iron set)||51|
|GAP WEDGE (50° TO 52°)||50|
|SAND WEDGE (54° TO 58°)||50|
|LOB WEDGE (58° to 63°)||51|
|4||2||PITCHING WEDGE (matches iron set)||1|
|GAP/UTILITY WEDGE (matches iron set)||1|
|SAND WEDGE (56°)||1|
|LOB WEDGE (60°)||1|
Within the clear minority (20%)of the top 100 opting to have only 3 wedges in their bag there are obviously some of the world’s best players, such as Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, in that group but these golfers are definitely amongst the few in terms of wedge set up on Tour currently.
It was interesting to note however that it tended to be the sand wedge which was the wedge that made way with those players using only 3 wedges often opting for a gap wedge from between 51 to 54 degrees combined with a lob wedge of 60 degrees and above.
Within another definite minority also was Lee Westwood who is alone in the top 100 in using only one specialty wedge – his 60 degrees Ping Glide Forged lob wedge – in combination with his PING i210 pitching and utility wedge which match his main iron set.
Given Westwood though is still knocking on the door of the top 20 on Tour as he nears his 50th birthday clearly shows there is more than one way to go about choosing your wedges and you don’t need a bag full of specialty wedges to be successful.
Breakdown of Wedges Used by Top 100 PGA Tour Players
When it comes to the wedge brands used by the best pros there is one clear winner.
Of the 380 different wedges used by the top 100 PGA Tour golfers 44% are made by Titleist. The next most popular brand is PING whose clubs account for 17% of the wedges used with Callaway wedges making up 15%. The most popular individual pitching, gap, sand & lob wedge is Titleist’s Vokey Design SM8.
Such dominance by Titleist make it far and away the brand of choice for the best pros on the PGA Tour but when looking in detail at their wedge set ups it doesn’t take long to see those individual players have a huge number of unique preferences whether that be with respect to the bounce, loft, grind or finish of the wedges they chose.
We found 70 different wedge models being used by this elite group across all the different wedge types – pitching, gap, sand and lob wedges – with a number of the wedges being listed as ‘prototypes’ or even having a specific grind attributed to a particular player.
Callaway’s Mack Daddy PM Grind for example are wedges built with the specific grind designed by Phil Mickelson while TaylorMade’s Milled Grind 2 wedges are also available with Tiger Woods’ chosen grind.
Every player is clearly different therefore and although different golfers may have the same model of wedge it’s never one size fits all and all the pros have their own unique requirements when it comes to bounce, grind, loft and finish on that model.
What Degree Wedges do the Pros Use on the PGA Tour?
I don’t know about you but one of the main things that strikes me when I watch the PGA Tour on TV these days is the ridiculous distances the pros seem to hit all their irons and especially their wedges.
Sitting about 150 yards out from the green it always amazes me that while I would be thinking 7-iron most likely players like Bryson DeChambeau we are told are reaching for their gap wedge.
However while pros like Bryson undoubtedly hit the ball a mile on closer inspection of his wedges, and indeed all of the lofts of the wedges the pros use on the PGA Tour, the disparity between us and them often becomes a bit clearer.
“What happened was years ago they always said a sand wedge was at 56 degrees, [then] all of a sudden along come irons that keep people for some reason [recognizing] distance so the manufacturers start strengthening all their irons. The next thing you know pitching wedges are all the way down to 43 degrees.”Bob Vokey, one of the world’s foremost wedge designers
For example DeChambeau’s ‘gap wedge’ has a degree loft of 47 degrees which is same as my pitching wedge.
While I’m not saying for a minute that the differences in the iron lofts used by the pros explain why they hit the same club so much further than me it’s important to bear in mind the degrees of wedges they are using if you are looking at the wedge models they use on Tour.
60% of the top 100 PGA Tour golfers use a 46° pitching wedge with the next most used loft being 48°. For gap wedges 42% use 52° models with 1/3 choosing a 50° loft. The most used sand wedge loft is 56° with 59% picking that loft of club while for lob wedges 80% of this group play with 60° models.
Looking at the degrees of wedges the pros use as a whole however doesn’t tell the whole story. One pros ‘sand’ wedge for example could be another player’s ‘lob wedge’.
CT Pan for example uses 4 wedges of lofts 46°, 52°, 60° and 64°.
So looking at a standard loft chart that classifies a ‘traditional’ sand wedge as 56° it would seem he doesn’t carry a sand wedge at all but instead uses 2 lob wedges. But he must use one of his four wedges out the sand of course so which one is his ‘sand wedge’?
The point is that in the world of wedges today it doesn’t really matter what they are called and the key important factor is that the various lofts of wedges any golfer carries covers a good degree of loft and therefore distances.
Bob Vokey, one of the world’s foremost wedge designers, says he likes to see anywhere 4 to 6 degrees between the lofts of a golfer’s wedges which will equate to anywhere between 10 and 15 yards of distance for most male golfers. Female and junior golfers will have 5 to 10 yard gaps by comparison.
When it comes to the top 100 pros on the PGA Tour however they are far more precise than amateurs and can often go down to as much as a 1/4 of a degree when it comes to their wedges to ensure their wedge distance gapping is as dialed in as possible.
A complete breakdown of the lofts of wedges used by the top 100 PGA Tour golfers is listed in the table below.
|SPECIALITY WEGDES||DEGREE LOFT||NO. OF TOP 100 PGA TOUR PLAYERS|
|Pitching wedge||46 degrees||23|
|Gap wedge||47 degrees||1|
|Sand wedge||52 degrees||1|
|Lob wedge||58 degrees||4|
What Bounce Wedges do the Pros Use?
One of the features of the advance of golf tech in recent times when it comes to wedges is the seemingly exponential rise in the options which are available.
And one of the key factors in these options is ‘bounce’ which is the angle created between the leading edge of a wedge and the lowest point of the sole or trailing edge.
“Bounce if your friend because it provides forgiveness on all types of wedge shots.”Bob Vokey, Master Craftsman and one of the world’s foremost wedge designers
So what are the pros doing when it comes to the bounce of wedges that they use?
10 bounce pitching wedges are the most used by the top 100 PGA Tour players while 10 and 12 bounce are common when it comes to gap wedges. More variety of bounces are found in the sand and lob wedges chosen but 10 bounce sand wedges are again the most used. The preferred bounce is 8 for lob wedges.
Although bounce data was not available for all the wedges we looked at which are used by the best pros on the PGA Tour analysis of the information which is there clearly shows a large variety of bounce options in use across the top 100.
The table below gives a detailed breakdown of all the various bounce wedges which we found through our research.
|WEDGE||BOUNCE OPTIONS||NO. OF TOP 100 PGA TOUR PLAYERS|
(Subject to data availability)
|MOST POPULAR WEDGE MODELS|
|10||21||Titleist Vokey SM8 (08F)|
Callaway Jaws MD5 (10S)
|10||17||Callaway Jaws MD5 (10S)|
|12||16||Titleist Vokey SM8 (12F)|
|8||16||Titleist Vokey SM8 (08M)|
|10||20||Titleist Vokey SM8 (10S)|
Callaway Jaws MD5 (10S)
|Lob wedge||4||11||Titleist Vokey SM8 (04L)|
|10||9||Titleist Vokey SM8 (10S)|
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