I was watching a PGA Tour event a few weeks ago when the announcers mentioned the degrees of bounce on a player’s sand wedge and I wondered if even half the people watching even knew what they meant by “bounce angle”. Contrary to some beliefs bounce is not what you put in your drier to make clothes have less static but the angle the leading edge of the golf club is recessed off the ground ataddress.
Every iron has a bounce angle built into it to help keep the leading edge from digging into the ground at impact. In particular, a sand wedge uses the bounce angle to help make the club glide through the sand rather than dig into it. When properly executed the bounce allows the club head to penetrate the sand without digging, making a shallow path under the ball, displacing the sand under the ball which in turn propels the ball out of the bunker.
The amount of bounce on a sand wedge is usually displayed on the back of the club varying from 6 to 16 degrees and adjacent to the degree of loft of that particular sand wedge. How do you know what bounce angle you should be using? Well there are some factors to consider such as skill level, the texture of the sand in the bunkers you play and other non-bunker shots where you may want to use your sand wedge.
Typically, as a golf professional, I like to recommend a higher bounce angle for most players with only the more skilled players using less bounce. Bounce can be a real friend in bunkers as is allows the sand wedge to splash the sand out without digging and slowing the club head down. Remember, in most cases an explosion shot is a modified swing…not just a downward chop! In order to splash the sand out of the bunker you must first generate enough club head speed to do so. A high bounce angle (10 – 16 degrees) will allow the sand wedge a better opportunity to slide under the ball!
Low handicap/professional players usually look for most of their wedges to have low bounce angles (8 degrees or less). Their precision allows them to execute the same sand explosions shots as well as other shots from tight lies, wet sand and hard turf conditions more proficiently.
So with all this information what’s my next step? Would you believe to get fitted for wedges? Most definitely yes! All major club manufacturers have a wedge fitting systems that courses can buy that contain numerous wedges with different degrees of loft and bounce. I know Dana has had both the Titleist and Ping wedge systems in our pro shops. I would suggest you take the opportunity to schedule a wedge fitting with Craig, Shaun, Jill, Travis or Dana to see what properly fitted wedges can do for your short game especially in the bunkers. With their professional experience you’ll find the correct number wedges to carry, the correct bounce and loft to have on them.
A point of information, the sand wedge as we know it today was invented by Gene Sarazen, affectionally known as “The Squire”, a PGA Tour player in the early 1930’s. Mr. Sarazen who spent summers at Lake Sunapee Country in New Hampshire is more famous for holing a four wood (spoon) for a double eagle on the 15th hole at The Masters in 1935! There are some very interesting articles on sand wedges, bounce and loft angles online…just Google them!