Imagine you’re playing a competitive game of golf, and you’re winning.
There’s one hole left and you’re looking to make it under par – right up until the ball goes hurtling into a bunker. You need to get it out of the sand quickly!
But how will you best go about it? Which wedge will you use, and why? There can be a few to choose from, so it can be difficult.
That’s why we’ve got the information for you! Below, you’ll find out the differences and benefits of the 56 and 60 degree wedge clubs, allowing you to decide which is going to be typically best for you – and which to use in certain situations.
Different Types Of Wedge
First, let’s get into what a wedge is. One of the types of iron club, wedges have short shafts and heavy heads, making them particularly great at allowing you to do “lob” shots.
These are short-distance, but high shots that are perfect for getting a golf player out of a difficult situation, such as a bunker or some water.
There are four different kinds of wedges, all with different aims. We’ve listed them in the order of their increasing number of degrees. Generally, as the degrees go higher, the distance of the shots that it makes possible increases too.
These are made for short-range shots, and lift the ball the least of all the wedges. It is designed to have very little “bounce”, which is essentially how easily the club head is going to hit into the ground underneath the ball.
As a result, the pitching wedge has a streamlined profile to it.
Besides the short-distance approach shots that it’s often used for, the pitching wedge can also be applied to some bunker shots.
Specifically, if the ball is sitting comfortably on the sand, rather than buried deep within it.
This offers a shot that’s going to be higher and shorter than a pitching wedge would give you, giving it a reputation as an approach wedge. It also has slightly more bounce to it.
As you may have guessed from the name, this wedge type is specially designed for use in the bunker, getting the ball out of the sand.
However, this is not the only terrain of the course where it has proven useful. If your ball is caught in some thick rough, the sand wedge can help lift it out well, and the same goes for muddier ground.
That said, it understandably doesn’t work for the opposite: a firm lie. On this flatter, harder ground, with less grass underneath, the sand wedge doesn’t succeed because of its higher level of bounce.
This is going to be the wedge you use when you need a higher shot, but still with a relatively low distance.
The lob wedge works best for shots that need a large launch angle, and it has a short carry distance.
This means that the ball will travel a short distance through the air. As an extra advantage, the lob wedge will also give you very little rolling distance after the ball lands, which is because it gives the ball a high backspin.
So, if you’re near the hole but need to lift the ball up from a rough hill, this wedge will give it the height it needs, while also making sure it has the short distance too. And when it lands on the area by the hole? It shouldn’t roll past it.
56 VS 60 Degree Wedge
Now that we’ve broken down the four different types of wedges, it’s time to focus on the ones that are lofted at 56 and 60 degrees.
These are the last two that we talked about, the sand wedge being around 56 degrees usually, and the lob wedge typically being at the top with a 60 degree loft.
To have a look at the different qualities that each wedge type will bring to your game, we’re going to test and compare the two and how they handle specific types of shot that you may be having to use.
First, we’re going to examine how the sand wedge and the lob wedge will vary when using them for a chip shot.
These are low shots that have little verticality, mostly playing along the ground rather than lifting into the air.
These are popular when the golfer has reached the green and they just want the ball to carefully move towards the flag, rather than risk knocking it far from the flag again.
Sand Wedge (56 Degree)
If we try using a sand wedge (56 degree) for a small chip shot, we get a range of results. Some attempts will land right next to the flag, while others will end up over 10 feet from the pin.
Overall, though, if you’re using a sand wedge near the green, be it from flat or rough ground, then you’re likely to end up around 6 or 7 feet from the hole.
From there, it should be nice and easy to sink it with a putter.
Lob Wedge (60 Degree)
If we try the same experiment now with a lob wedge, the higher end of wedges in terms of lift, we can compare the results to the sand wedge. Using the 60 degree lob, you will likely find that your ball will end up slightly further from the hole.
On the far end of the scale, you may be ending up 16 or 17 feet away, which is not at all ideal for putting in, and will probably require another wedge shot.
On the closer side, though, you could be ending up a nice few feet from the pin instead. It really can be a range.
So all in all, performing a chip shot with a 60 degree lob wedge is likely to leave you further from the flag than using the 56 degree sand wedge.
Lob wedges tend to be better at giving you a large lift, but if you’re doing a chip shot mostly across the ground then it isn’t going to be the best type of club for such a task. It may be good at lifting you from the bunker, but fares less well on a flat lie.
Now let’s try the comparison test but for the opposite type of shot: the full shot. This is going to be more of a full swing, lifting kind of shot, with an emphasis on height rather than rolling flat on the ground like the chip shot.
Sand Wedge (56 Degree)
Since you now know that a sand wedge certainly brings height to it, but not nearly as much as the lob wedge, you might think you know how this will pan out – but you could be surprised! If we use a sand wedge (56 degree) for a full wedge shot, the results again vary.
Overall, you’re going to be getting a good amount of distance, typically hitting anything above 70 yards with each.
It’s possible to even reach 100 yards with this wedge, which can be very useful.
Lob Wedge (60 Degree)
You’re also going to get some impressively far shots with the 60 degree lob wedge, usually equalling around 70 yards or more – and again even reaching triple digit heights.
However, though both can achieve great things when it comes to hitting the ball very far, the sand wedge is actually slightly more consistent overall – frequently hitting around the same kind of number.
Considering that the lob wedge is such a great type for height, it’s easy to assume that it would have been the best out of the two when doing a full wedge shot – but it just comes shy of the 56 degree sand wedge.
It must be noted, though, that a 56 degree sand wedge will often roll a few yards when it hits the ground. The lob wedge doesn’t do this.
Therefore, if you’re playing towards the green and you want to be really precise and careful when the ball lands, you may want to take into account the sand wedge’s tendency to roll.
When Should You Be Using A 56 Degree Sand Wedge?
Now that we know how the 56 and 60 degree wedges hold up when performing certain types of shot, we should now consider some scenarios that you might find yourself in when playing a game of golf.
Sand Wedge (56 Degree)
The 56 degree wedge is great for hazards. As its “sand wedge” name suggests, it is probably the most reliable club you could hope for if your ball has ended up in the sand of a bunker.
This is mostly down to the wedge’s high degree of bounce, allowing the player to hit their clubhead much more efficiently into the ground beneath the ball itself.
This quality will make your swing glide with ease through the terrain, be it sand or dirt, and not get caught or lodged in a thick clump of it – messing up your shot.
Instead, it should slice through the sand and under the ball, lifting it cleanly and sending it safely out of the hazard space.
The 56 degree sand wedge club is also good for hitting approach shots to the green, allowing for quality full-swing hits, as well as lifting you out of any rough patch too.
When you’ve neared the pin, it’s wise to pick the sand wedge and have full swing control than to use something like the short-range pitching wedge but with a reduced swing – it can be easier to overdo and adjust, than to under-do and adjust.
Lob Wedge (60 Degree)
The word “lob” alone puts pictures of big, high hits in your head – and that’s what it’s going to be good for.
This is the wedge for when you need a really high shot with a lot of lift, and want it to land without rolling. It’s all about raise and precision.
That isn’t to say that it should be lifting you out of sand traps, though, because we’ve already said the 56 degree is going to be the go-to there.
But the lob wedge would be good for avoiding that bunker altogether, lifting the ball well over it in the first place, and avoiding the troublesome sand.
While the 56 degree is the sand specialist, you can think of the 60 degree lob wedge as the favorite for other tricky terrain, such as the rough.
If it’s deep within the grass, this is going to be the club to dig it out and get it onto a clearer, cleaner lie.
56 Degree VS 60 Degree – Which Should You Get?
So, with all this testing and all these scenarios, you’re probably wondering more than ever: which is going to be best for my golf game?
Well, it’s all about your own skill and the type of game you’re going to play, but each wedge will undoubtedly bring a certain benefit.
A 56 degree sand wedge is going to offer you a lot of help if your ball has been waylaid in some hazard trap, giving you a clean glide to lift it out of the danger, and resume play.
However, it’s also very good at chip shots and full shots. It’s highly likely to get your ball a fine amount of feet away from the pin, typically allowing you to change to a putter without needing any more wedge work.
So it’s good for that kind of short-range precision, yet it’s also great for distance: able to knock your ball as far as 100 yards.
It really does appear to be an all around success of a wedge, if you can overlook the fact that the ball will roll when it lands, losing just a touch of the precision you might want. You’ll have to compensate and account for the roll in your head.
The 60 degree lob wedge does good work on these accounts too. It’ll allow you to hit the ball just a handful of feet away from the pin, and it’ll also allow for impressive long-range distance hits.
However, its distance work is not quite as reliable as the sand wedge, which will typically give you a more consistent set of results when giving it the big hit.
That being said, the lob wedge won’t have the ball roll when it lands, which can be especially handy if you’re landing it just next to the hole.
The 60 degree wedge also has the height advantage, allowing the biggest lift of all the wedges, allowing the ball to – in a sense – arc upwards and over, covering a short distance but an impressive raise.
When you consider the shortcomings and inconsistencies, though, it looks like the sand wedge is just going to give you a better game overall.
Lob wedges don’t give you as much control over the distance, but a sand wedge is going to give you a lift that’s frankly almost as good.
The 56 degree sand wedge is just going to offer you more versatility.
Which is why, if you have to cut down to just one type of wedge in your club bag, it’s probably best to go for the sand wedge.
Types Of Sand Wedge
However, not all sand wedges are going to be 56 degrees. They tend to go as low as 54 degrees and as high as 58 degrees, which may sound like a small difference, but it can have all the effect on your game.
Look at it this way: the type below it, the gap wedge, often ranges between 50 and 54 degrees. That’s pretty close to the sand wedge!
And yet it’s an entirely different type of wedge, with entirely different purposes. So, degrees can make all the difference.
Which is why you want to get the degree of sand wedge that’s best for you.
To work out whether fewer or more degrees than 56 are going to work for you, you could first go to a driving range or a course and ask to try each type – you could measure the distances and lifts you’re getting from each, too, and use it to narrow the choice down.
Additionally, you could look at the other clubs in your bag and assess each of their qualities. How high is each going to hit your ball? And how far?
When you’ve worked that out, pick the degree of sand wedge that’s going to offer you something none of your other types of club do.
You want to build up a collection for the course that will allow you to do any type of shot you want, and prepare you for any scenario you could possibly run into during a game.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Average Sand Wedge Hit Distance?
For an average golfer, they’re likely to be able to hit a full sand wedge 70 yards.
For the average Tour professional, however, they should be able to get 100 yards with the sand wedge.
It all depends though! And it’s more than likely you’ll reach those distances too sometimes.
What Wedge Should Someone With A High Handicap Use?
If you have a high handicap on the course, you should try and have at least a 56 degree wedge in your bag.
Having looked at the qualities that the 56 degree wedge (sand) and the 60 degree wedge (lob) bring to your golf, each has proven to have their own benefits.
Lobs are great for height, but sand wedges are great for their overall consistency, and their ability to get you out of a fix in a sand or dirt trap.
Which is why, overall, we would have to argue that the 56 degree sand wedge is going to be the best for you because it is versatile and will be able to adapt to the shortcomings that the lob faces.
However, you may not want to stick to the 56 degree one – instead, find out which degree is going to be best for you, offering you the right lift that you need.
Anyway, is all this talk of sand wedges making anyone else hungry?