When I first became a golf professional, I had several students tell me that the “loft” wedge was a club they would never use.
When I realized that by “loft,” they meant lob wedge, I wanted to learn more about why so many high handicappers and beginners were scared of this club, because its very similar to the sand wedge.
I love both the lob wedge and the sand wedge. I’ve learned to use each in the unique ways they are designed to help for approach shots, chip shots, sand shots, and pitches. If you are unsure why you are carrying these wedges, what they are for, and when to use them, take a look at our lob wedge vs. sand wedge guide here.
Overview of a Lob Wedge and Sand Wedge
Before you can decide when to use the lob wedge and the sand wedge, you have to know what each club is and how it is designed. Here is a brief overview of the lob wedge and sand wedge and what to expect.
Sand Wedge Overview
The sand wedge is a golf club typically has between 54 and 58 degrees of loft. Although it is called a sand wedge, the club can be used anywhere on the golf course. The sand wedge is a great club for getting out of sand traps as it has a high initial loft and typically a soft landing.
Some golfers have a sand wedge that is a unique style of a wedge, and others play with something that matches the rest of the irons in their bag. With a sand wedge, you can expect plenty of spin, good performance around the greens, and plenty of control of your golf shots.
Lob Wedge Overview
The lob wedge traditionally has between 58 and 62 degrees of loft. This will almost always be the highest lofted club in a golfer’s bag.
The lob wedge can be a great club for high-pitch, flop shots, bunker shots with no green to work with, and more. Some lob wedge shots go higher than farther, so keep that in mind when you are choosing to use this club.
Lob wedges are very commonly sold as a blade style, but there is some cavity back lob wedges. Most lob wedges are not offered in a standard golf iron set.
Differences Between a Lob Wedge and Sand Wedge
The lob wedge and sand wedge are probably more alike than they are different.
Each of these clubs should be considered tools for getting the ball as close to the pin as possible as you get closer to the green. Even though the clubs are similar, there are a few unique differences.
Also, remember that if you have a Cleveland lob wedge and a Titleist sand wedge, there will be manufacturer related differences between the clubs.
The loft of the lob wedge is greater than the sand wedge. Typically speaking, higher loft means more forgiveness. However, when you look at the lob wedge and the sand wedge, the forgiveness is about the same.
Many times the average golfer considers the lob wedge unforgiving. The reason behind this is that when there is an error with the lob wedge, it will very often cost you a shot.
Since you will be closer to the pin, when you miss, it could go over the back of the green or end up well short of the target, and it’s frustrating.
If you are going to carry both a lob wedge and a sand wedge in the bag, make sure there is at least 4 degrees of loft between the two clubs. It makes no sense to have a 56 degree sand wedge and a 58 degree lob wedge; the clubs are just too similar.
The sand wedge is a club you can hit further than the lob wedge. Many golfers find that their average sand wedge full swing shot will fly about 75 to 100 yards.
For the lob wedge, the distances are typically lower, below that 75-yard mark. The average golfer rarely takes a full swing lob wedge shot, as it is typically not the highest percentage shot when it comes to getting close to the pin.
Professionals can hit a lob wedge considerably further, but they won’t typically use a full swing lob wedge on their approaches to the pin.
Distance should not be a significant concern when looking for the best lob wedge or sand wedge for your game. Even though you hit the sand wedge further than the lob wedge, it’s still good to have both in the bag.
Think of this simply as how a pitching wedge will go further than your 50 degree gap wedge.
Both the sand wedge and the lob wedge are meant to spin when they hit the green. However, I have always had an easier time getting spin with my 60-degree lob than I do with the sand wedge.
The reason behind this is the extra loft this club gets and groove patterns typically located on the face of the club.
The lob wedge is the best place to get spin when you need it. It lands softly on the green and, when hit correctly, is not designed to roll very far. You won’t have to hit a flop shot just to see spin; even with little chip shots, the ball should stop quickly.
The bounce a golf club has is typically going to be unique to the individual club; however, the chance of having a higher bounce angle is increased with a lob wedge.
This is not to say that the lob wedge cannot be ordered in a lower bounce.
Wedge bounce adds some forgiveness and makes it easier to get the wedge’s leading edge connected with the golf ball. For those that tend to skull or chunk the ball, this bounce can really help make the chance of a poor shot considerably lower.
When to Use a Lob Wedge
Now that you have a better understanding of what a lob wedge is, it’s time to know when to pull it out of the bag. I was playing golf the other day with a friend who took their lob wedge out when they had a clear chip to the hole from the fringe with nothing but green in between them and the hole.
The lob wedge was just not the right choice, there was no reason to get the ball up that high, and distance control on this shot is much too tricky. Knowing when to pull the club out of the bag is so important.
Here are my favorite times to use a lob wedge on the golf course.
It took me a long time to realize how great the lob wedge is out of a greenside bunker. However, if I have left myself with not much green to work with, there is truly no better club. It’s so easy to get this up and down, and you will have no trouble stopping it.
Playing a greenside bunker shot with a lob wedge is very similar to playing it with a sand wedge. The technique and form are exactly the same. The only difference is that it won’t go quite as far as your sand wedge.
In the Rough Close To The Pin
If you are in the rough and don’t have much green to work with, the lob wedge can get up in the air and stop on the green rather quickly. Rough tends to create a barrier between the clubface and the golf ball that causes a lot of roll out on golf shots.
If you want to avoid that, it’s best to use the club with the most spin; the lob wedge is certainly that club.
Anytime you are hitting a shot up to a green that is higher than you, it’s essential to use a golf club with plenty of loft. Elevated greens can end up having a ball that rolls back down at you, so it makes sense to use a golf club like the 60 degree lob wedge to get it high enough to reach the surface of the green.
Anytime You Are Short Sided
Anytime you leave yourself hardly any green to work with, think about the lob wedge. This is one of the only clubs in the back that you will be able to quickly stop. So if you want to avoid a 15-footer coming back at the pin, think about a lob wedge as the club of choice.
When to Use a Sand Wedge
The sand wedge is my go-to club for shots around the green. As much as I have learned to use and to love the lob wedge, the sand wedge is still a staple for me.
Full Approach Shots To The Green
Most golfers will use their sand wedge as a full swing approach to a green when they have less than 75 yards to the green. This full approach shot swing will likely travel between 75 and 100 yards, and it will stop quickly when it makes contact with the surface of the putting green.
Mid To Long Greenside Bunker Shots
Greenside bunker shots are made considerably easier using a sand wedge. Simply adjust your stance and the angle of your club head to ensure that you will end up with your shot in a great position.
The wedge will likely be your go-to club for most bunker shots.
Lofted Pitches To the Green
The sand wedge does a great job of making it easy to get the golf ball up in the air. As long as you hit down and through your golf shots, expect plenty of loft, impressive control, and the ability to stop the ball on the green rather quickly.
Get good with a sand wedge from various yardages, and you will notice you will avoid double and triple bogeys on the golf course. This shot can save you.
Do You Need Both Clubs in Your Bag?
I would highly recommend putting both clubs in your golf bag. The lob wedge and the sand wedge have unique characteristics, and they can be used in different locations throughout the golf course. It makes sense to have both golf clubs in your bag.
The most important thing to remember here is that you will need to ensure your lob wedge and sand wedge have at least three or four degrees of loft between them. The launch angles are too similar without this difference in the loft.