Golf Blog Feature
What is Bounce on a Wedge - The Secret to a Better Short Game
One of the greatest features of golf is its history and lore. Stories are abundant on just about any golf related topic and the invention of the sand wedge is no exception.
Gene Sarazen is widely credited with the invention of the modern sand wedge, although there is some debate on whether Sarazen invented the sand wedge or just greatly enhanced it with his innovations. One story that has become generally accepted is that Sarazen learned about aerodynamics while flying with Howard Hughes and was so inspired by how the flaps on the wings added lift, that he decided the same concept could be used in sand bunkers to lift his ball out of the hazards.
Thus was born the bounce - or the curved mass on the bottom of all wedges these days. If you're a serious player, you need to learn about the bounce on a wedge and how to use it as it will greatly improve your short game.
Bounce is Your Friend
If there is one tip I'd pass along to those wanting to lower their handicap, it would be to improve their short game. As I mentioned in our article about average golf scores, learning to turn 3 shots into 2 when you're around the green is something everyone can do and it's the fastest way to shoot better scores. Furthermore, there is no better way to improve your pitching, chipping and bunker play than learning how to use the bounce on your wedge.
So let's have a quick review of what the bounce is on your wedges. If you look at the image of the Titleist Vokey K Grind below, the blue area generally represents the bounce. It's the thick, rounded area on the bottom of your wedge. It's important to note that different wedges have different degrees of bounce, some have more bounce and others have very little. Our review of Titleist Vokey Wedges will give you a good idea of how Titleist varies their bounce by wedge model.
So why is bounce important? Because it won't dig into the turf, it will "bounce" and glide which is a major benefit when playing short game shots. But if you don't understand bounce and how to use it, you can eliminate its usefulness and make your wedge more of a digging tool, which is a recipe for fat and thin skulls in your shots around the green.
How to Learn about Bounce
- Take your sand wedge, hold it so the shaft is 90 degrees to the ground, and let the club head rest on a table top
- You'll notice how the leading edge of the club (sharp edge at front) if off the table, and the bounce is touching the table surface
- Now take the shaft and lean it way forward, and you'll see how the leading edge now touches the table and the bounce is now unusable
- When you use the bounce, your margin of error increases greatly, but when you use the leading edge the wedge becomes a shovel and you will have to be very precise to make good contact
Note the bounce being used on the left, and not being used on the right:
Why the Bounce Makes You a Better Wedge Player
This one is pretty simple. When you use the bounce, the club glides along the ground and collects the ball propelling it forward. It doesn't dig into the turf which is a short game killer. And the bounce is very forgiving, you can actually hit behind the ball and still get a good result. If you hit behind the ball using the leading edge to dig, you will lay the sod over the shot and after several fat chips and pitches, you'll become a flipper that skulls balls across the green because you don't want to dig into the turf.
So, if you want to improve, learn to smack the bounce on the turf and let it skip. In fact that would be a great drill without using a ball. Just get the feeling of the bounce (NOT THE LEADING EDGE) hitting the ground. If you are someone that has been hitting fat shots, you may be afraid to hit the ground, but you have to retrain yourself and know that hitting the ground with the bounce will never give you a fat shot. Trust it!
Keys to Using the Bounce for Better Shots
- Do NOT setup with a ton of shaft lean, meaning the ball way back in your stance and your hands pushed way forward. All this does is remove the bounce and expose the leading edge. You will be a digger.
- Instead, set up with the ball in the middle of your stance, with the shaft more vertical, almost straight up and down and your hands just slightly in front of the ball. Now the bounce is in play.
- Learn that when you open the face you expose MORE bounce! Try it on your table top. The more the face is open at address, the more the bounce will be in play! A closed club face removes bounce and promotes digging.
- Remember BOUNCE IS YOUR FRIEND! Don't dig.
If you want to learn about a great system for the the short game I highly recommend this book by James Sieckmann which has helped me tremendously with my short game!