Best Wedges for High Handicappers and Beginners

Upgrade your short game and watch your scores drop

Have you ever hit two shots to go 400 yards, and then 4 more shots within 100 yards of the green for a delicious double bogey?

That sticks with you, and usually affects the rest of the round too.

The secret to better golf is being lethal inside 100 yards and I want to help you become lethal inside 100 yards.

So what I've done is found the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners to give you some suggestions to get more joy on the course without breaking the bank and splurging on unnecessarily expensive equipment. I should also mention, I LOVE saving money on golf equipment so I don't usually recommend the expensive stuff.

If you get only one wedge, get a sand wedge

If you're unsure what kind of wedge you need, if you’re only going to buy one wedge, get a great sand wedge with either 56 or 58 degrees of loft and at least 10 degrees of bounce. Keep reading to find out why.

Top Wedge: Cleveland SmartSole S Wedge

Easiest wedge to get out of bunkers first time and chip around the green. With a bit of practice, it's a great club for approaches inside 100 yards.

The Best Wedges for High Handicappers and Beginners

  1. Cleveland SmartSole 3 S Wedge (best for bunkers and green side chipping)
  2. Wilson Harmonized Wedge (best budget option)
  3. Cleveland CBX Cavity Back Wedge (most closely resembles the rest of your irons)
  4. Ping Glide 2.0 Stealth Wedge (easiest to use premium model)
  5. Pinemeadow Pre 3 Wedge Pack (best introduction set of wedges)
  6. Callaway Mack Daddy Wedge (best performing wedge long term)

What makes a wedge lethal?

From our experience and taking inspiration from master club fitter Tom Wishon , we recommend a sand wedge with a wide sole to take your short game to the next level. This bigger sole gives the wedge what is called bounce. More bounce means it's easier to get the ball airborne.

But you’re probably thinking “what the hell is bounce”? Before we get into that, understand that it’s the most important characteristic of a wedge to give us more forgiveness. Forgiveness is our priority as higher handicappers so we can get the ball off the ground and going where we want when we want. Bounce helps us do that. 

To help you find the best wedge for high handicappers & beginners, I focused on bounce as the main criteria.

What is bounce?

“Bounce refers to the lowest part of the sole, that part of the wedge sole that is actually in contact with the ground at address and that causes the front of the sole to be off the ground at address.

Bounce angle is a measurement, expressed in degrees, of the angle between the leading edge of the sole and that lowest point on the sole. The higher the bounce angle, the more the leading edge of the sole is off the ground at address.”

Bigger soles increase bounce

How does bounce make a club forgiving?
Bounce moves the club through sand in the bunkers

Do you find it difficult to hit the ball out of bunkers first time? I know I used to. There's nothing more embarrassing than taking 4 to get out of a bunker. But check out my guide to hitting bunker shots for beginners.

For 90% of golfers, the wedge should have a lot bounce to literally bounce off the surface of the sand and float the ball out on a pillow of sand.

Bounce controls the digging of the club into the turf

When we start golf we all hit a lot of fat shots. Fat means you hit the earth before your ball.
If your SW has too little bounce, it will dig into the ground on a fat shot and your ball will go nowhere.

I
f the wedge has more bounce, it will literally bounce off the earth and make good contact, sending the ball to your target. This will help your shots inside 100 yards.


The Best Wedges for High Handicappers and Beginners Reviews


Best wedges for immediate results

Cleveland has been the foremost name in wedges for years. They’ve really thought about the higher handicap player with the way they've designed this wedge. Thick bottom and 58° so you don't even have to open the face up. 


Their data analysis showed that golfers with a handicap over 12, find the green only 54% of the time out of the bunker so they've created a sand wedge that will get you out 100% of the time.

Never fear bunkers again

The Smart Sole S wedge gets you out the bunker in one shot with almost no effort with the very wide sole. The weird looking underside is unnoticeable from the top when addressing the ball and actually looks like a standard wedge. The face is already 58° of loft so there really isn't much need to open the face like you do with other wedges.

But if you do want ti, you can because that big fat booty is not going to let you dig into the sand. It's going to bounce right out and get the ball floating out on a magic pillow of sand.

The weight behind the sweet spot has been distributed around the perimeter of the club like a standard iron. The Tour style wedges are designed with all the weight behind the sweet spot which makes them harder to hit.

This perimeter weighting makes the wedge even more forgiving and will more than likely match your cavity backed irons in design. 

These things work, period.

You can find me using both C and S wedge in this video on my Youtube channel. The newest version of these wedges now includes a G wedge so you have C, G and S for a full complement of wedges. 

Further options in this model for further from the green

Add the C wedge and G wedge in unison with the Smart Sole range and you have two potent wedges that are going to severely lower your scores. The C wedge is 42 degrees which is pretty much an 8 iron while the G wedge is 50 degrees to give you a nice gapping between the C and S wedge These 8 degrees allow for a lot of versatility for the shots inside 100 yards.

Beyond bunkers

With the large sole of the club, you're going to glide through tall grass and fairways alike. Around the green you're not gonna hit those duffed chips that go a a foot or two. You know, the ones you hit and look around to see if anyone noticed...

The C wedge has less loft at 42°and has been designed for playing around the green but can be used just as effectively from 125 yards with a full swing. While it looks quite radical, this club gets the job done every time. The G wedge at 50° is the between club for more chipping precision and a bit of a shorter full shot than the 42° club. 

Recommendation

Easily the best wedges for a high handicapper or beginner struggling with the short game or looking for their first wedges. These two clubs have the potential to rapidly revolutionize your short game from bunkers to green side to pitch shots within 100 yards. No BS.

Pros
  • Playable from any lie
  • Get out of sand FIRST TIME
  • S wedge purpose built for bunkers and preventing CHUNKS
  • C wedge purpose built for chipping and running balls up from the fairway
Cons
  • Unusual shape that will take time to get used to
  • A few rounds to get used to hitting full shots

Best Value for Money Wedge

Wilson is a very underrated but excellent golf club manufacturer. They’ve designed a winner with this range of wedges and it’s going to be very difficult to find better value than the Wilson Harmonized Golf Wedge at this price.

Maximum bang for your buck

The 56° option has optimal bounce of 12° which promotes forgiveness and helps you strike clean wedge shots consistently. For this price, it's going to be difficult to get better bang for your buck.

The leading edge of the club is designed to get under the ball and prevent too much digging. The feel off the face is responsive and the ball flies high and drops with spin to stick on the greens. 

Consistent distance control made easy

If you find you enjoy your 56°, Wilson produce 52° and 60° models to add to your set. For very little money, you can get your hands on 3 wedges: 52°, 56° and a 60°. That makes a perfect 4° gap between the pitching wedge in your set (48°), the Gap (52°), Sand (56°) & Lob (60°) in the Wilson Harmonized wedges.

One warning though. As a new player or high handicapper, banish the thought of a 64° wedge. These are not recommended if you are learning with wedges. They are INCREDIBLY difficult to hit consistently even for skilled players and while Wilson make one, I would avoid it like the plague.

These are the best wedges for beginners to start with and getting the consistent gapping between your wedges will help with hitting the right distances from 120 yards down to 70 yards time and time again. The confidence you’ll get by not having to hit half shots into greens will change your outlook on life.

Pros
  • 56° sand wedge has ideal 12° of bounce to get through the turf
  • Classic blade shape wedge 
  • One of the best value for money options
  • Look for the black versions to reduce glare from the chrome ones
  • Wide range of lofts in Harmonized range 50, 52, 56  and 60 degrees
Cons
  • Highly reflective chrome finish will cause glare into your eyes
  • AVOID the 64° club at all costs - it's just a gimmick

Cleveland CBX Wedge (Cavity Back)
Most forgiving premium wedge

Once again Cleveland appears on this list. There’s no escaping the quality of their wedges. I really like the 56° Cleveland CBX  wedge. This wedge is really easy to hit because Cleveland have put 12 degrees bounce on this club with a nice thick sole to glide through the turf, getting the ball into the air easily. 

Cavity back makes it more forgiving

The cavity-back design in the CBX is more forgiving than the blade wedges most often found nowadays. Forgiveness is the magic word for high handicappers and beginners and in a wedge, it's even more important so you can get onto the green easily to putt for some pars.  

With the cavity back and chunky sole on the CBX, it's going to be much easier to get out of the bunkers, prevent chunked chips around the green and improve approach shots onto the greens.

Like with irons, the cavity back allows for more perimeter weighting which is unique for a premium wedge.The perimeter weighting means you’ll still get distance and spin on off-center strikes because of the extra weight behind the ball even on mishits.

This premium wedge functions as a game improvement club by bringing all the elements of forgiveness to the club head. It's always a safe bet with Cleveland wedges but this is easily of the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners looking to upgrade.

Pros
  • High and soft spinning bunker shots
  • Extra forgiveness through the thick sole and cavity back
  • Famous Cleveland quality grooves, spin and shot making properties
  • Matches the feel and look of your existing cavity back irons
Cons
  • Pricey for your first try with a specialty wedge but worth every cent

PING Glide 2.0 Stealth
Famous yet unknown contender

PING make superb irons and drivers but their wedges are just like the rest of their clubs - easy to hit and easy to use.

The PING Glide comes with a specially designed grip with white markings on it to use as a guide for where to put your hands when gripping down. They designed the wedge from the hands down so you an be in control as much as possible.

Weighting has been shifted to the perimeters to improve the off center strikes on the longer shots so there is less distance variability. This is a massive help because those partial shots are everyone's worst nightmare.


Best Budget & New-Player Wedge Option

Not everyone is looking for expensive premium wedges or wants to spend a ton of cash on golf. You might be someone who plays very casually, for business or on a shoestring and this might be the first time you've looked for wedges.

Whichever way you play this game, the wedge set kills three birds with one stone.

Non-stop rave reviews for the Pre Wedges

The wedges are an incredibly popular club and for the price it’s easy to see why. You get a set of 52°, 56° and 60° with wide soles and sleek stainless finishes.

Get these to learn how to use wedges first

The Pinemeadow  Wedge set are the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners looking for a one stop solution. For a low investment, you can punish and put these through their paces. You can learn the ins and outs of wedges with this set and once you've learned enough, you can go ahead and get yourself a premium wedge. 

Pros
  • Quality is excellent for the price
  • Well-priced to get all your needs in one pack
  • The best introduction to wedges for a newer wedge player
  • Heavy clubhead to help with more solid contact through the turf
  • Large bounce and sole for easier sand and rough play
Cons
  • Grips wear out very quickly
  • Probably will not be a set you keep for a long time

There are 4 confusing options when selecting one of these wedges. The S-grind option will suit most golfers with 10° of bounce. It's perfect for use on multiple styles of turf and for the majority of people's swings. You can use it in the sand, the rough, the fairway and hard pan.

What you'll notice with premium manufacturers is they will offer wedges in many increments instead of the standard 52,56, 60 configuration of the other manufacturers. Callaway offer this Mack Daddy in 2° increments from 50 degrees up to 64 degrees. 

You can get your gapping really fine with all these options. Start off with a 56° or 58° and see what you need after that.

The 4 holes drilled into the sole allow some weight to be moved to make the wedge more forgiving and create a ball flight that stops quickly. Phil Mickelson uses these wedges with Roger Cleveland behind the design, you'll find that you buy these wedges and keep the for a very very long time.

Pros
  • Very good for players who hit it toward the toe
  • Many loft options to craft a whole set of wedges in future
  • Glides through the turf with the S grind on many types of turf
  • Will not need replacing other than if you wear out the grooves - these are top quality
Cons
  • The head shape is a bit large with a larger than normal toe - make sure that it tuits your eye
  • Too 'firm' of a feeling for some people - not a soft feel as it hits the face

Short guide on the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners

What’s a wedge?

What defines a wedge from an iron is loft. The 9 iron normally has around 44° of loft. Anything above 45° is considered a wedge.

Wedges can be used on fuller shots from 140 yards and in depending on your swing speed. It’s often said that a wedge should not be hit at full power. The idea behind wedges is to use them for controlled shots instead of power shots. Their job is to get you close to the hole, not long distances.

The higher loft produces higher ball flight and often more spin.

What wedges should I use as a high handicapper or beginner?

If you only own the Sand Wedge from your set, you can definitely try a stand alone wedge. But you need to know what you're looking for. Then you can narrow down what you should purchase and try out.

There are a handful of reasons people have for needing wedges in all skill levels. I will list them here in order most applicable to higher handicaps down to what is more applicable to lower handicaps.

  1. Get out of bunkers first time: If your primary concern is just getting out of that damn bunker, I definitely would go with something with a VERY thick sole and loft between 56 and 59°. You can start with a Cleveland Smart Sole or one of the other crazy fat soled wedges like an X-out or Tour Edge 1out. These are great for JUST GETTING IT OUT OF THE SAND.
  2. Chipping: Now here you can actually get away with chipping with your irons if you learn the bump and run style chip which I promote on my Youtube channel. But of course, you may find yourself in some tricky spots as a high handicapper and want to chip over bunkers and water and obstacles.
    You want a wedge that will be versatile from the rough as well as the fairway so something with a cavity back like a Ping Glide or a Cleveland CBX wedge can really do wonders for you. The Smart Sole is also very suitable for chipping as well. The G wedge in the Smart Sole range is a potent chipping club.

    The loft range for these types of shots can be 50° up to 56° and you will be fine with one or two of these wedges.
  3. Shots from 30-100 yards: These are going to be clubs with 58° loft down to 50° which are swung more 'full'. The types of wedges that are best for this are up to you entirely. You just need to practice with the one you choose and find the distance you hit it with a FULL SHOT and a HALF SHOT. Then adapt your game to use that club and that swing for the specific distance it goes. 

HERE IS MY MAXIMUM WARNING FOR ALL HIGH HANDICAPPERS AND BEGINNERS!

Forget the 'flop shot' and the high lobber. You DO NOT need to learn this shot at this stage. Learn the very basic chipping and pitching move which you can find on Mr Short Game's Youtube channel as well as my Youtube channel and just GET THE BALL ON THE GREEN. Those flop shots you see the pro's playing took YEARS to create. 

Our goal as normal golfers is to get it on the green and then try make a putt and at worst, two putt. EASY LIFE.

When do we use wedges?

We use wedges from bunkers and for chipping around the green. Most golfers end up finding one club they like to hit out of bunkers with, chip greenside with and hit ¾ shots with. Personally I like a pitching wedge for greenside chipping, lob wedge from the sand and sand wedge for ¾ approach shots as well as chipping from the rough.

The choice is yours and there is no right or wrong way when you find what works but starting with the above best wedges for high handicappers and beginners will make life a lot easier.

We also use wedges inside 100 yards. This is the absolute most important part of golf and most professionals will tell you that if they took over the game for a 24 handicapper inside 100 yards, that 24 handicapper will play off no more than a 12 handicap. 

Armed with a decent wedge and a LOT of practice, you can significantly SLASH strokes off your score. Treat yourself to a nice investment in a wedge and watch how you quickly nip and tuck a stroke from the bunker here, a stroke from a chip there and some more from inside 100 yards here and there. 

Four Main Wedges

Pitching wedge

The pitching wedge is most common and has a loft between 44° and 48° which you will get in your set of irons. These are great for greenside chipping.

Gap Wedge

50° to 53° which fills the gap between PW and SW for when you need to close the gap in distance.

Sand Wedge

The sand wedge normally has 54° to 58° loft with fat soles that have 10° to 12° bounce which is essential for bunkers and shots within 100 yards. The thick underside helps to glide through longer grass and sand while also getting the ball airborne off shorter grass. In our opinion, the best wedge for high handicappers and beginners is a sand wedge.

Lob Wedge

The lob wedge at 60° to 64° loft is perfect for hitting it over bunkers around the green, short bunker shots and within 80 or 90 yards. It can add another dimension to your game allowing you to take fuller swings inside 100 yards instead of those tricky half swings with sand wedges! Lob wedges over 60° are not practical for the average golfer.

Here is how all four wedges work:

How wedges fly

Are wedges really that important?

Yes. Specialized wedge clubs are a dream to play and the number of shots you'll hit with a wedge will surprise you:

If we add up the total shots you play per round with these few clubs in these situations, you’ll see it can be up to 40% of your of the game.

What is the best wedge for high handicappers and beginners?

The best wedge for high handicappers and beginners is one with maximum FORGIVENESS.

My main aim is to help you pick the best clubs for your game without breaking the bank or being lured into buying crappy clubs that will disappoint you. I hope this guide was helpful and you find yourself a decent wedge or set of wedges to take your game to the next level from within 100 yards.

Leave a Comment:

4 comments
Dave Rawlinson says

Great tips – i am 20 handicapper who is coming to terms with his flaws….. and hopefully come out the other side a 15 handicapper.

One flaw is that I am guilty of choosing the high chip/soft landing chip whenever i am greenside – could you do a video on how to achieve the low rolling chip that has a chance of dropping and how to control the distance on these shots.

I am trying to shorten the back-swing – which is reducing the height – but the roll-out is not consistent.

Thanks = great site 🙂

Reply
    Matt says

    I believe I have done the chipping series on Youtube, three parts on how to chip. You can get it very quickly I am sure if you can already hit the high soft one

    Reply
Mike says

Hi Matt

Love the youtube channel and your site. I played every now and again as a kid and have recently picked golf up again in my early thirties. I’ve only played 3 rounds since starting up again and am hovering around the 100 mark – by following your advice and practising putting and chipping in the lounge (much to the wife’s annoyance) I’m hoping to be down at the 90 mark soon enough.

Looking at buying some wedges and am attracted by the low price of the Wilson Harmonized. I’ve also read your wedges page for mid-handicappers. I don’t have a big budget (and love a good deal) but also don’t want to buy the Wilsons and find that in 6 months I want an upgrade. Would you advise aiming straight for something like the Tour Edge Triple Grind Sole instead? Or are these really better suited to the better golfer?

Thanks mate

Reply
    Matt says

    Any of the newer Cleveland wedges with cavity backs will be perfect for you

    Reply
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