If you ask a lower handicapper which clubs make the biggest difference in their game, they will almost always tell you that the wedges are the answer.
Golf wedges are the window to scoring low and having a successful day on the golf course.
With the ability to carry 14 clubs in your bag, you will certainly have room for a few golf wedges.
The wedges you decide to carry will determine the types of shots you can hit as you make your way around the golf course.
Two of the most common wedge lofts are the 52-degree wedge and the 56-degree wedge.
If you are planning on purchasing one or the other or need to take just one out of the bag, let’s look at the positives and negatives of both of these clubs.
This information should help you decide which of these wedges is going to be the best fit for your game.
52 vs. 56 Degree Wedge (Differences, Benefits, Tips)
52-Degree Wedge Overview
A 52-degree wedge is also considered a gap wedge.
This particular wedge was originally designed to fill the gap between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge.
The gap wedge is a good choice for approach shots, lengthy bunker shots, and getting up and down from areas that might be a little further from the green.
Since the 52-degree wedge is not as highly lofted as other clubs in the bag, you will see that it runs a bit more when it hits the green.
Where a lob wedge may barely release towards the hole, the 52-degree wedge will travel a good distance.
This is to be expected and should be planned for when hitting your approach shots.
The 52-degree wedge is not something that every golfer will carry.
It is much more common for a player to have a pitching wedge and a sand wedge and skip the 52-degree wedge.
If you configure your golf bag right, you should have more than enough room to keep a 52-degree in the bag.
56-Degree Wedge Overview
A 56-degree wedge is the most common loft for a sand wedge.
Since 56 degrees of loft is typically a great amount to carry a wedge over the edge of a bunker, the 56 has become the most common loft for a bunker shot.
The 56-degree wedge is probably the most popular golf wedge on the market.
Golfers almost always carry one of these in their bag, and then they may make decisions about whether or not it makes sense to carry the lob and gap wedge.
If you are a new player or you have been in the game for a long time, it makes sense to learn how to use a 56-degree wedge and to use it well.
Benefits of the 52-Degree Wedge
There are many great benefits of the 52-degree wedge.
When you learn what this wedge is capable of, you may find that it can be a perfect fit for your game.
Here are some of the most important benefits of the 52-degree wedge.
1. Long Bunker Shots
Just because you are in a sand trap does not mean that you need to use a sand wedge.
When you are in a bunker, you need to consider the length of the shot, the height of the lip of the bunker and the type of lie that you have.
Often, on the longer bunker shots, it is difficult to get a sand wedge to carry as far as you need it to carry.
In this instance, it is best to bring the 52-degree wedge into play.
The 52-degree wedge or gap wedge will give you a bit more carry and ensure that you can get the ball all the way to the pin.
2. Approach Shots
If your pitching wedge is a bit too much length to help you hit your approach to the green, you can substitute with a gap wedge.
A 52-degree wedge is a great option for approach shots.
Many people are going to choose the 52 degrees for around a 100-yard approach shot to the green.
Depending on what types of courses you play, this length shot could come up quite often.
In addition, the 52-degree wedge is typically made with somewhat of a progressive design.
This progressive design is going to help golfers transition from their wedges to their irons with ease.
This helps to give golfers more confidence when they are making their shots into the green.
3. Pitch into the Green
Since the height of the 52-degree wedge can be a little easier to control, it is a good choice for pitch shots into the green.
You can control how this shot lands and how far it rolls by being careful with the way you handle your approaches into the green.
The pitch shots take a bit of practice to learn your distance control, but you will eventually learn all that is required in hitting a great shot with the 52-degree wedge.
Disadvantages of the 52-Degree Wedge
With a 52-degree wedge, there are not too many disadvantages.
Of course, you will need to learn how to use the club properly if you plan on getting the distance and performance that you need with it.
The biggest disadvantage of the 52-degree wedge is that it can sometimes be harder to spin.
Since the loft is quite a bit lower, it is harder to hit the ball quite as high, and you will sometimes end up overshooting the hole or a green.
The best way to avoid this is to learn what touch and feel are in the chipping game.
As soon as you can control the distances that you are hitting the club, the better your scores will be.
The only other issue that some people have with a 52-degree wedge is that it can be difficult to transition from the wedges to the irons at times.
Through practice and the right equipment choices, this will be attainable.
Benefits of the 56-Degree Wedge
The 56-degree wedge, being one of the most popular that golfers carry, has lots of important benefits.
Knowing when to choose your wedge is going to help to make sure that it is most effective.
Here are some of the best benefits of the 56-degree wedge.
1. Exit from Sand Trap
The sand wedge is built to help golfers get their ball out of the sand trap as quickly as possible.
With a sand wedge, you will have the ability to get the ball up in the air quickly and have it land on the green and stop.
The 56 degrees of loft on this wedge make it a great choice for getting over a lip of any bunker.
Even if you happen to be close to the edge of the bunker, you should easily be able to get the ball up and over the edge.
Sand traps bring golfers a lot of frustration, but if you have the right club in your hand, you are going to have a much easier time scoring and shooting what you want.
2. Plenty of Spin Around the Greens
Trying to get the ball to stop and spin on the greens takes a bit of time and practice.
Golfers need to learn what it takes to back a ball up and how to get the ball to stop where they want on the green.
This is done with a combination of clubhead speed and spin on the club itself.
A sand wedge has deep grooves that are designed to help back the golf ball up and get it to stop in place.
This type of spin is essential so that you can control what your shots are doing.
3. Can Hit a Variety of Shots
The 56-degree wedge can be used to hit approach shots to the green, and it is also a good option if you are hitting out of a bunker.
This is one of the most versatile golf clubs in your bag.
It can be used from a variety of distances, and you can alter your stance and your swing to see different results with this club.
If you happen to need a club to get you out of a problematic position around the green or in the deep rough, the 56-degree wedge can be a great choice.
Having a club that can take on more than one role is a huge benefit.
Disadvantages of the 56-Degree Wedge
You will notice that there are not too many disadvantages to a 56-degree wedge.
Of course, it is not going to go nearly as far as a 52-degree wedge, but it is not designed to go far.
The other issue you will sometimes see with a 56-degree wedge is that it can take a little while to get used to how it works.
Many players will hit behind the ball or hit their shots thin until they get the hang of what it takes to hit a wedge such as this.
Through patience and practice, you can learn how to be better with a 56-degree wedge and get the shots that you need.
The little extra practice and patience it takes to hit the 56-degree wedge are going to be well worth the benefits of hitting this club well.
Major Differences Between The 52- and 56-Degree Wedges
The biggest difference between the 52- and 56-degree wedges is the loft.
Four degrees of loft is quite a bit, and it will impact the distance and the ball flight that you can get with this club in your hand.
The 52-degree wedge is mostly used as an approach shot to a hole, where the 56-degree wedge can be considered more of a finesse type shot.
These clubs are certainly different enough that you would want to keep both of them in your bag if possible.
Sometimes, instead of carrying the 52- and the 56-degree wedge, golfers will carry a 50 and a 54.
This gap is still a good one and one that makes sense to have in your short game.
Having wedges that are evenly spaced is going to help make sure that golfers don’t find themselves in a dilemma with a large gap in distances.
Do I Need a 52- and a 56-Degree Wedge?
If you have the room in your bag to carry a 52- and a 56-degree wedge, you should absolutely do so.
Having a variety of yardages to choose from also helps to make sure that you have a variety of shots that you can hit.
When you can hit different types of shots, you are then truly prepared for any golf course you should encounter.
If you have an approach wedge in your bag and it is around 52 degrees of loft, you may not need to add an additional 52-degree wedge.
Again, the most important thing to figure out is the spacing between your wedges and to make sure that it is as evenly spread out as possible.
Golfers need lots of wedges so that they are capable of hitting a variety of shots while on the course.
How Do I Know Which Golf Wedge to Use?
Many players are going to carry four wedges in their bags.
They will have the pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge.
This means that, for a golf shot of about 100 yards and in, there are four different options for players to choose from.
For many golfers, this can get overwhelming.
Many players will stick with their trusty sand wedge or pitching wedge and not experiment with different types of shots.
This, of course, will limit your ability to score and to take your game to the next level.
Let’s look at a few questions you should be asking yourself to ensure that you pull the proper wedge out of your bag.
If you have to get over a large bunker lip, choose a club with more loft.
The 56- or 60-degree wedge will be a better choice than the 52 when you need something to fly high and land softly.
Learning which loft is best for a shot takes a bit of time and what golfers call feel.
The higher lofted wedges typically land more softly, and they will not roll as far.
2. Course Conditions
If the course conditions very hard, a ball will land on the green and then take a big bounce.
When course conditions are hard, you want to choose a club with some extra ability to spin.
Chances are this is the only thing that you are going to be able to use to get the ball to stop.
You may also want to play more of a bump and run shot when the course conditions are hard and let the ball run up to the hole.
When it comes to soft greens, choose a club that you can go right at the hole with.
3. Game Strengths
What do you feel most comfortable with?
Some golfers put a 60-degree wedge in their hand, and they panic.
Others have a hard time controlling the loft of the shots that they hit with a pitching wedge.
Determine what the strengths of your golf game are, and then go from there to decide which loft is the best for your golf game.
The better your game, the more variety you should be hitting.
If you want to lower your score, start varying the types of wedge shots that you hit.
4. Distance to the Hole
Obviously, the more distance you have to the hole, the lower the loft you will need to cover that distance.
Golfers who have 120 yards to the hole are rarely going to take out their lob wedge.
Learn exactly how far each of your wedges will travel when you take a full swing with the club.
This kind of information will be very helpful when you have a full shot into a green.
The high loft and the full spin can come in handy on these types of approach shots, and you need to dial in the exact distance of each of your wedges.
Which Is Better: The 52- or 56-Degree Wedge?
The 52- and 56-degree wedges are different.
It is impossible to say that one is better than the other.
Golfers should consider putting one of each in their golf bags and fully exploring what it takes to learn to play them.