How Far Should I Hit My Wedges?

Introduction

Distance is something that many golfers are obsessed with. However, when using your wedges, accuracy and distance control is more important than the actual distance you are able to hit them.

Golf is a game of how many not how. It doesn’t matter how far your friends hit their wedges or how far the tour pros hit their wedges. What matters is knowing how far you hit your wedges and being able to do it consistently.

You are much more likely to reduce your handicap by improving your short game from 120 yards and in than by trying to hit longer drives.

The secret of golf is to turn three shots into two.

Bobby Jones
Selection of wedges

What Wedges Should I Carry?

A traditional set of irons used to consist of 3 iron down to 9 iron plus a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. These days for a variety of reasons many manufacturers don’t include the sand wedge, pitching wedge or even the 3 and 4 iron.

To achieve more distance throughout the bag most manufacturers have strengthened the lofts of their irons. In fact, the lofts have decreased so much that a large gap developed between the loft of a pitching wedge and the sand wedge. 

The lofts of sand wedges stayed generally consistent at around 56°, pitching wedges become less lofted and are now generally around 48°. This led to the development of the gap wedge. It literally fills the gap between the now 48° pitching wedge and the 56° sand wedge.

The last 20 years or so has also seen the rise of the lob wedge which usually has around 60° of loft. Some players such as Phil Mickelson have been known to carry clubs with up to 64° of loft.

A lot of tour players will now carry 4 wedges with lofts ranging from around 48° up to 60°. My Ultimate Wedge Buying Guide has loads of information on how to pick the right wedges for your game.

Many amateur players will now have 3 wedges 48°, 52° and 56° (pitching wedge, gap wedge and sand wedge) or they may add in the extra lob wedge 60°.

How far should I hit my wedges
Vokey 48° wedge

How Far Do You Hit Each Club?

There are two important numbers that you need to know for each club. How far you can carry the ball and how far the ball will likely roll out. Unfortunately, the majority of players can’t achieve the levels of backspin that the tour pros do. Even with lofted wedges, we will still see a certain amount of roll-out when the ball hits the green.

What you need to do is work out how far you hit all your irons but in particular your short irons for a full swing. You should also work on a three-quarter swing and a half swing. If you are using 4 wedges then that gives you 12 distances to work with when you are in the scoring zone inside of about 100-120 yards. For a more detailed look at the short game and how you could improve it take a look at the Dave Pelz book, Short Game Bible.

Dave Pelz Short Game Bible
He’s a real rocket scientist you know!

The simplest way to measure your distances is to use the practice area at your club, if it has one. Hit 10 shots with your pitching wedge and pace out the distance to the middle ignoring any that you mishit. Repeat the process with a three-quarter swing and a half swing. You will then have 3 distances for that club. Repeat this procedure for all your wedges and there you have your 12 short game distances.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to GPS technology or a laser rangefinder then even better but simple pacing should be enough to start.

Ideally, you want to use the same make and model of ball that you would normally use when playing golf.

Armed with these distances you can now have more confidence when playing shots in a round of golf where you come up short of the green.

You should spend some time practicing your full swing, three-quarter swing and half swing to make sure you can reproduce it on the course.

Typical Distances For Amateurs

It is not generally a good idea to compare yourself with others. The main goal in golf is to get the ball into the hole in the fewest strokes possible. It doesn’t matter whether you hit a wedge 100 yards or 160 yards. Despite this and because it will hopefully satiate everyone’s curiosity here is a list of typical wedge distances for an amateur player.

Note that I have provided a range of distances there is going to be such a wide variety of skill levels, physical fitness and ages. In general younger and/or better-skilled players will be towards the higher end of the range. Older and/or less skilled will be at the lower end of the range.

MaleFemale
PW85-12055-90
GW75-11048-80
SW65-10041-70
LW55-9034-60
Typical wedge distances

Other Ways to Improve Your Wedge Game

Unless you are extremely fortunate you will often leave yourself with a shot at an ‘in between’ distance. Probably the most reliable way of hitting these in-between distances is to grip down on the club you are using. By gripping down 2 or 3 inches you will reduce the distance you hit by around 5 yards.

For most amateur golfers it is usually a mistake to try to introduce easier swings to reduce distance. This is likely to lead to deceleration through impact which can cause all sorts of mishits. Gripping down on the club whilst maintaining the same swing tempo and speed is likely to be a more consistent way of reducing the distance.

How Far Should I Hit My Wedges?: Conclusion

Don’t become obsessed with distance.

Short irons in particular are more about accuracy and distance control. The fact that Rory McIlroy can hit a pitching wedge 160 yards is of no relevance to the vast majority of people that play golf.

Very few people can generate the sort of clubhead speed that top tour pros can. Work on making sure that you make solid contact and can reproduce the same distance from a given swing time after time.

Dave Pelz on Wedge distances

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

How far should you hit your wedges?

You should be concentrating on consistency and accuracy rather than raw distance.

Being able to hit a particular wedge to a specific distance consistently is much more useful than being able to hit it a long way!


How Far do Tour Professionals Hit Their Wedges?

While it is interesting to look at the statistics of tour professionals their game bears little or no resemblance to a typical amateur player.

In fact, unless your goal is to try and earn your living by playing golf then really the numbers they achieve are pretty meaningless.


How far should I hit each club?

The ability to hit a particular club to a specific distance will be much more useful and be likely to lower your scores. But the thing about distance is it’s not necessarily going to improve your game that much.


What 3 wedges should I carry?

If you have decided to go for a 3 wedge setup then I would suggest a pitching wedge, gap wedge and sand wedge. Make sure you have a consistent difference in the loft of each club e.g. 48°, 52° and 56°.

Typical Wedge Distances for Professionals

Here are the wedge distances for two top players.

Rory McIlroy

(these are adjusted for altitude when he was playing in Mexico)

¾Full
Pitching Wedge159169
Gap Wedge140148
Sand Wedge123132
Lob Wedge111118
Rory McIlroy wedge yardages

Brooks Koepka

SmoothMedium¾FullMax
Pitching Wedge136148153
Mid Wedge/Gap Wedge88105117130138
Sand Wedge7686100119126
Lob Wedge648090105110
Brooks Koepka wedge yardages

Related:

Best club to get out of a bunker

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