There are two numbers on every wedge, and not every golfer knows what each of those numbers means. But pretty much every golfer knows what at least one of the numbers on their wedge means.
The two-digit number on your wedge that begins with a 4, 5 or 6 (or, God forbid, a 7) is the wedge loft. Wedge loft is a pretty simple concept to understand. Wedge loft, just like the loft on any golf club, is the angle created by the topline of the golf club, down to the leading edge and then back off the ground. Common wedge lofts are 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees. More often than not, golfers go with three wedges in 4-degree gaps: 52, 56 and 60 degrees is a popular setup, as is 50, 54 and 58. Wedge gapping is for another article, though.
The other number on the bottom of a wedge is what's called bounce, or bounce angle. The bounce on a wedge is a measure of how much the leading edge of the wedge sticks up off the ground when the club is properly soled at the low point of the grind. In English, that means the bounce is figured out by putting the part of the head that is the lowest on the ground and then figuring out the angle created by that point, the leading edge and the ground.
Bounce is designed to do exactly what the name implies, giving the player some relief as the club interacts with grass or sand, allowing it to bounce up and help the player get through the ball at impact on touch shots. The more bounce, well, the more the club bounces. The less bounce, well, you get it.
Bounce angles can vary, anywhere from 5 degrees up to 16 degrees in cases. Determining the right bounce for each of your wedges is not as simple as wedge gapping typically is. The bounce on each of your wedges has to help you with how you use the wedge.
- If you use a wedge for a lot of different types of shots, having a higher bounce is generally a bad idea. You should prefer something more moderate (10 degrees) or lower.
- If you prefer to hit shots -- chips, full shots, whatever -- where you pick the ball clean off the turf, then having less bounce is good.
- If you prefer to take a divot on your shots, or you come in with a steeper angle of attack, then you want more bounce. That bounce will give you relief getting through the turf.
- If you play on a golf course that is firm and has a lot of hardpan, or if you play in bunkers without much sand, then less bounce is a good idea.
- If you play on a spongy, often wet, course, or you splash around in bunkers with a lot of sand, then you should pursue more bounce.
Wedge loft and bounce do work together, but they only work together properly if you know what you plan to do with a wedge. If you don't know how you use a wedge, it's important to think through how you've used wedges in the past and get fit based on how you play to use them in the future.