Does Wedge Bounce Affect Performance? – Golf Myths Unplugged

An Explosion of Choice

In the last few years, the number of options that golfers have in wedges has exploded.  In addition to the flashy stuff like cool finishes and custom stamping, there are more sole grinds and bounce options than ever before.

While choice always seems like a good thing, we were curious to know how much these different soles affected performance and whether or not golfers were choosing the right option.

The Myths

Myth #1 – Golfers with steep angles of attack always need more bounce

Myth #2 – Bounce affects strike quality

Myth #3 – Bounce affects launch angle and spin

Myth #4 – Bounce affects accuracy

Myth #5 – Golfers need the same bounce for all types of shots

Myth #6 – Golfers know how much bounce they need

How We Tested

For this test, we assembled five players with handicaps ranging from scratch to 18.  Each player hit three types of shots – full swings, half swings, and chips – with three different wedges – high, medium, and low bounce.  Each wedge was the same brand, model, and loft, and the shaft and grip were the same.  Every player hit seven shots with each combination, and every shot was recorded by Trackman.

All testing was done at, and with the help of, Club Champion.

The Results

Some of the most common wedge fitting advice is, “If you have a steep angle of attack, you should get more bounce.”  While this is not necessarily bad advice, it is far from foolproof because there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration.  For example, a player could be steep and also let the club head pass their hands before impact.  In this case, they may not need much bounce.  The opposite could also be true – a shallow player with lots of lag may need more bounce to prevent digging.

All of that leads to this: our data did not show a correlation between angle of attack and better performance with more bounce. 

When looking at angle of attack, we did see one very interesting thing.  Our best player changed his angle of attack to accommodate the different wedges.  This is consistent with what we have seen over many tests: high end players can adapt to make any equipment work.

By looking at how much smash factor, carry distances, and distance dispersion varied from one wedge to another, we determined that bounce does affect strike quality.  This is a case of common sense matching up with the data.  The purpose of bounce is to manage turf interaction so that the golfer can put the ball on the center of the club face.  We saw that having the right amount of bounce for a given swing helped our testers do just that.

It takes only a glance at the data to see that launch angles and spin rates changed with the amount of bounce.  What is interesting is that there was not a clear correlation between bounce and higher or lower launch or spin.

Additionally, the change in bounce resulted in large launch and spin changes for some players, small changes for others.  We can infer that bounce affected each golfer differently.  For some, less bounce meant contact higher on the face.  For others, it might lead to lower face contact.

Since bounce affects strike quality, launch, and spin, it is logical that we would see it impact accuracy also.  Because we tested short shots with a high-lofted wedge, most players did not see huge differences in accuracy.  However, because every yard is more critical in the short game, these differences are still important.

This is unequivocally busted – no player found one wedge to be the best for every type of shot.  In fact, some players ran the full gamut – low bounce on one shot, mid bounce on another, high bounce on the third.

Our findings give credence to the idea that golfers need to think about how they use each wedge before making a purchase.  If you have a wedge that’s for full swings, get it fit to your full swing.  Then, ignore the amount of bounce on that wedge and focus on fitting the next wedge for the way you use it.

To find out if golfers can “self fit” bounce, we did two things.  First, we asked them about the wedge set up they currently play.  Second, after each type of shot, we asked them which amount of bounce performed the best.

Our expectations were that the better players in our test group would have the right wedges in their bag and would be able to accurately identify which wedges worked the best during the testing.  We were proven wrong.

Overall, our test group was playing too little bounce in their personal wedges.  Three testers play very low bounce set-ups but showed a performance improvement with mid or high bounce wedges.  The tester who was playing high bounce needed less.

More surprising was that in only two of fifteen trials did our testers identify which wedge performed the best.  In fact, four times out of fifteen they selected the wedge that performed the worst!

All of this is further evidence for our belief that golfers should not attempt to self-fit.

Conclusion

If you want to get up and down more often, having the right wedge – with the right amount of bounce – makes a big difference.  And as we have seen time and again, there is no simple answer to what golfers need.  One golfer may benefit from more bounce, another benefits from less.  Digging even further, a golfer may need difference bounce in each wedge because of the different shots they hit.

If you want to upgrade your short game with the right wedges, make sure you work with a qualified club fitter.

The Data

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

103 Comments

  1. Judy Stahlnecker

    #SecretGiveway

  2. #secret give away

  3. I’m so glad I’m a subscriber to PIG! I’m excited for this #SecretGiveaway

  4. brandon jones

    Thanks for the great info helps alot #SecretGiveaway

  5. Great work as always Matt! Just shows you have to get fit for all your clubs. #SecretGiveaway

  6. Dayson pearce

    Does ground condition make much difference to what bounce to play . Like wet ground v hard and sand traps with a lot of sand v traps with not a lot of sand

    • Dayson,

      Conditions matter, but they’re a distant second to fitting your swing. Sand conditions will make a bigger difference than turf conditions because the differences can be massive.

      Best,

      Matt

  7. Interesting article. I may need to re-evaluate some of my wedges. #SecretGiveaway

  8. Thanks for posting! #SecretGiveaway

  9. Robert Morgenthal

    Matt, thank you for your insightful article. I believe that like me many players choose a wedge brand/company based on looks, feel, amd the company’s marketing program. Me, for some odd reason I;ve almost always used Cleveland Wedges, with the occasional Ping or Callaway. No matter how helpful the titleist Vokey line would have improved my game, I just didn’t go there. As for the bounce factors and being left handed, my options of bounce have been limited except for the past few years. And unfortunately sales people always try to get you to buy the mid-bounce option, kinda as a one size fits all. And yes I’ve done a Club Champion fitting,but for the life of me I can’t remember their recommendations. As a regular player of Cleveland RTX-3 wedges – 54* 58*, I think (I’ll come back to the I think comment in a bit) the V-Shaped Sole grinds mess me up more than the standard shaped sole grind with the RTX-2. But I thank you for you story about wedge grinds, and my need to go get re-fitted for some different wedges. My question is more about what shaft to use in my wedges. I like to use the same as my irons, and i believe that i have had the most success with Nippon Zelos 7, Reg flex. Go figure-I swear that golf is one of the ultimate head games. Like i said, I think….. #SecretGiveaway

  10. #Secret Giveaway

  11. John Phillips

    Thanks for giving me a much better understanding of the bounce feature of wedges.

  12. #secretgiveaway
    Most of us weekend wonders would beneift from a club fitting, especially with finesse clubs like the wedge

  13. Nice article, I have to admit that the bounce on the wedges always confuses me. I normal just buy off the rack with the standard bounce for the manufacture.

  14. Hello Matt,
    Glad you had this article written. Great information on wedges. Ibdo have q question. Would shaft flex affect bounce as well? I Spinners in my wedges and they are “wedge flex” I’ve also had stiff to X stiff in some as well. I thought it affected the bounce a bit, but it also could of been the shaft affecting the swing. Not sure. Any help is appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    Jon
    P.S.  #SecretGiveaway

    • Jonathan,

      The shaft makes a big difference. As you say, it affects both the swing and the club because of the way it flexes at impact. The key is to get fit for wedges while using the same shaft you will be gaming.

      Best,

      Matt

  15. #SecretGiveaway
    Awesome article, I used to play with minimal bounce as I hit clean with virtually not divot. Now using sm6 56-14 and can hit from bare lies and lush grass and it is fabulous from sand; bounce is your friend.

  16. Great article Matt. Bounce and more importantly the amount of bounce has to be the most misunderstood part of any wedge game.

    I think myth #5 and #6 sum up the average players understanding of what bounce is actually designed to do.

    Good read, thx much.

    #SecretGiveaway

  17. Very helpful article. I had been playing Cleveland RTX-3 with a high bounce 56 and a low bounce 60. I felt this gave me choices in sand, on hard pan, and in wet/soft ground. When I went to the CBX 54 and 58 with increasing mid bounce set by manufacturer, I had to adjust but noticed improvement (assuming I’m not misreading results). I’m thinking if I try new RTX-4, I’ll need to get fit. #SecretGiveaway

  18. I have a steep angle of attack and always used wedges with a bounce of 12 degrees or more. Then I tried less bounce and what a difference it made. Now I don’t use anything more than 8 degrees of bounce.
    #SecretGiveaway

  19. #SecretGiveaway

  20. Bounce is the most misunderstood part of club set by most ams , hope #secret giveaway helps them

  21. Very informative. #SecretGiveaway

  22. I only know that when I forget to use the bounce my results are not good. #Secret Giveaway.

  23. Always found different ground conditions eg.wet or dry alter effect of bounce – does that mean we have to have a whole set of wedges and you pick the ones you need each time? #SecretGiveaway

    • Philip,

      Ground and sand conditions matter, certainly, but I don’t think people need two sets of wedges. Having your wedges fit your swing is far more important. You can adapt to different turf conditions with small set up changes.

      Best,

      Matt

  24. Wow great stuff and very eye opening. Love the work your guys are doing! #SecretGiveaway

  25. #SecretGiveaway

  26. Henry Hugh McAuley

    Playing golf for approx. 10 years, 11 handicap, I’ve always thought/been advised to think of bounce as a way to control how much my wedges “dig in.” A higher bounce angle, less digging resistance! This is a good test with results which make things clearer to me reference bounce angle.
    #SecretGiveaway.

  27. #secretGiveaway

  28. Great article Matt. Bounce of wedges has always been something I haven’t been able to implement in my game.

    A question that came to mind when reading the article is should a fitter fit each wedge to specific type of shot? For example, you should only hit a chip with your lob wedge, a pitch with your gap wedge, and blasting shot with a sand wedge (or any variation). What should you expect from a good wedge fitting?

    #SecretGiveaway

    • Kip,

      Great question. I think that a fitter should definitely be asking you what kind of shot you hit with each wedge. If the lob wedge is only for chipping, who cares how the sole behaves on a full swing? If you hit multiple types of shots with one club, you may need to make some compromises, and that’s part of the discussion with the fitter.

      Best,

      Matt

  29. Great stuff! I’ve often wondered about those so-called wedge fitting “rules”, and had speculated that, no – getting the right wedge for _you_ is really highly dependent on factors like…
    .. each individual’s very individual swing;
    .. how each individual swings a wedge on each short game shot .. and how they’re attempting to hit the ball on each shot (eg. high lob/high spin vs low runner/low spin, etc.);
    .. the varied playing conditions that an individual will encounter during any given round;
    .. And all the other factors mentioned throughout the article…

    Thanks again for more great golf info!

    ..maybe a new wedge is in the #SecretGiveaway ..?
    :-)

  30. #SecretGiveaway

  31. Charles Elliott

    I AM LOOKING FORWARD To #SecretGiveaway.

  32. #secretgiveaway

  33. Charles Elliott

    It is always good to know that one’s ideas about club performance is vindicated. I AM LOOKING FORWARD To #SecretGiveaway.

  34. Interesting read, thanks
    #SecretGiveaway

  35. Great information as always. #SecretGiveaway

  36. Very interesting will have to check my wedges out #secretgiveaway

  37. #SecretGiveaway
    Great article. Oh, for the days of only one loft/lie/bounce selection, and young hands that made adjustments on the fly. Life is supposed to get simpler as we age!
    Many of us live where there are no competent club fitters, and most courses lack a practice bunker. Do you have any general suggestions for golfers who do not have access to good club fitting facilities? Generally, golf professionals do not have equipment or expertise to do the job as you describe in your article.
    Thanks, Matt.

    • David,

      I avoid giving general advice simply because I’ve seen the value of club fitting and all the weird, unexpected results that come out of it. I will always argue that, for the serious golfer, there is a way to get fit. It may involve a decent drive, but high quality fitters are popping up all over the country. A full fitting isn’t something that needs to be done often, so I think it’s worth the investment of time and money to get into the right equipment and then enjoy the game for a long stretch of time.

      Best,

      Matt

  38. Great article and gives you the #SecretGiveaway!!

  39. You are correct trying to figure out which wedge id correct for you is something that a professional club fitter needs to help everyone with. I bought 3 wedges 4 years ago and tried to figure the right bounce for each one myself. Big mistake. Good information.
    # Secret Giveaway

  40. Great myth buster as always. Definitely got me thinking about my wedge setup. #SecretGiveaway

  41. Patrick Wilbricht

    I agree bounce absolutely affects playability. I have tinkered over the last couple seasons and actually carry 3 different brands in my wedges.

    #SecretGiveaway

  42. james jaworski

    This was very helpful # secret giveaway

  43. A cracking read!#SecretGiveaway

  44. I am 70 years old with a 5.4 index on a course with the 125 slope rating. My two scoring wedges are a58/12 and 54/14. I use the 58 for short bunker shots and up to 25-yard pitch shots from the Fairway. I use the 54 for longer bunker shots and up to 40 yard shots from the Fairway and thicker rough. I use the 58 for short-sided shots from the rough, including shots of up to 30 yards that I have to flop From the Rough. I have to score by getting up and down because my driver distance is only 230-235, driver swing speed 92 . My lowest lofted iron is a 6 and I use a 3,4 and 5 hybrid, so along with my putter, my 58 and 54 on my scoring clubs. My course is a hair under 6400 yards and a par 71.

  45. This was good information about the bounce on wedges. I have several wedges and I will experiment with each one since read your information. Thanks

  46. Nice article. Enjoyed it! #SecretGiveaway

  47. Roger D Baranowski

    The way I approach the ball made me realize that I didn’t have enough bounce on my wedges , until I read this article. So now I’m going to go with more bounce on my wedges. I’m sure my shots will improve with practice and more bounce.

  48. Interesting article which enlightened me to my wedge needs and what’s in my bag.

    #secretgiveaway

  49. It would seem that bounce is one of the very hardest attributes of a club to fit, and certainly one that the average golfer cannot “self fit”.

  50. Mike Armentrout

    I feel like I need to get fit for wedges now. Great article! #SecretGiveaway

  51. #SecretGiveaway

  52. With the wedges used for the testing, was the bounce the only difference as surely the sole width will also play a part in how they work #SecretGiveaway

  53. Always love Matt’s articles. Found this fascinating. Been reading about bounce this season trying to figure out what i should be looking for next, and this article confirms i still have no idea, lol. When it’s time, time to get fitted.
    Maybe the #SecretGiveaway will be the answer.

  54. George Thomson

    I have been playing golf for many many years and like many always searching for new ideas Secret giveaways and good advice. I was taught to play the game by an old Scots pro as a young boy and one thing he always said time and time again was that it is the STRIKE THAT MATTERS. It’s something so simple and easily forgettable and in my dotty old age it is reverberating in my mind. John Nicoll was his name and maybe because I am getting old now, my childhood memories are flooding back. He was so so right as if one cannot repeat and repeat the “STRIKE” then improvement in one’s game will be hard to find.

  55. Kevin Coughlin

    Some of those myths I’ve heard over the years, thank you for putting them to the test with real golfers of various handicaps, all playing several of the wedges of different lofts and bounce. Interesting

  56. Good article, wedge setups can be so personal but you can’t ignore the facts. #SecretGiveaway

  57. what were the ground conditions? wet and soft, or dry and hard? Dense turf, or thin turf?
    #SecretGiveaway

  58. Thanks for the great article, really enjoyed it! #SecretGiveaway

  59. Albert Cross Jr

    My 4 wedges have 46,52,56,60 are 3 different bounces but I find myself using a 9 iron around the green because it is the most versatile.
    #SecretGiveaway

  60. Jacob Bassing

    sometimes I just need someone to tell me what bounce to use and why. Over and over until I understand. #SecretGiveaway

  61. Scott K. Giles

    I am testing the Cleveland RTX4. Very useful and utile club.

    #Specialgiveaway

  62. #secretgiveaway

  63. I can confirm the myth that all bounce is the same. I carry 4 wedges and all have a different bounce. #SecretGiveaway

  64. another great test,keep up the great work! #SecretGiveaway

  65. #SECRETGIVEAWAY

  66. great article #SecretGiveaway

  67. Thanks for this valuable info. #SecretGiveaway

  68. #SecretGiveaway

  69. When you play from all different types of sand it’s tough to find a bounce that works well all the time. #secretgiveaway

  70. Noel Guillaume

    #SecretGiveaway.

    Agree – keep up the great work – have just put in a 54* and left out my 3iron – making a hell of a diff.

  71. Good advice.#Secret Giveaway

  72. Love these articles #SecretGiveaway

  73. gerald d bredbenner

    this was a excellent topic #secretGiveaway

  74. Very interesting and informative

  75. Would love to see whether a v-sole grind actually works like advertised. #SecretGiveaway

  76. Interesting stuff as always. Were the testers using the wedge that is part of the #SecretGiveaway?

  77. That’s some good info #SecretGiveaway

  78. curtis brzyski

    Great article #SecretGiveaway

  79. Bounce matters depending on surface, hard, soft or in between. #SecretGiveaway

  80. Great article, but especially on wedge play how much of the indoor results can we translate to on course results?
    Any way to conduct the test on different types of lies?
    #SecretGiveaway

  81. Good information
    #SecretGiveaway

  82. I always like these “Myths Unplugged” articles the best, though I enjoy the reviews a lot too.
    I’ve got a few sand wedges. One is like magic from sand traps, but it is not so great from the fairway.
    The others are fine from fairway, but only mediocre from the sand trap. I’m not even sure what the secret is.
    #SecretGiveaway

  83. After years of struggling to open the face and hit higher shots I just bought a custom grind wedge and have much more success with it.
    #SecretGiveaway

  84. #SecretGiveaway

  85. I carry a 56 and 62, both lower bounce. Seems to work for my swing and the usual firmer conditions that I play. But we’ve had a lot of rain this year in the upper Midwest and after hitting some less than desirable wedges from wet-thin lies, thinking a wedge with more bounce would help? In addition to bounce, many manufactures now offer different sole grinds as well. Wondering if a future review will look at the effects of different sole grinds? Thanks for the info! #SecretGiveaway

    • Anthony,

      A little more bounce could help. Also, wet turf tends to expose slightly fat shots in a way that dry turf does not.

      The purpose of different grinds – in many/most cases – is offering more bounce plus versatility. It would be interesting to look at the exceptions to that – things like the Eye2 sole.

      Best,

      Matt

  86. Cliff Lattanzio

    I was just reading up on bounce so very timely article. Both my 54 and 60 have 14 degrees of bounce. #SecretGiveaway

  87. Great article #secret giveaway

  88. Cliff Lattanzio

    Great story #secret giveaway

  89. Richard P Fink

    Does this really matter for the recreational golfer? The more they focus on just mastering the basics rather than foolong around with more clubs than they will ever understand, the better the more enjoyment they will have.
    #SecretGiveaway

    • Matt Saternus

      Richard,

      It absolutely matters. You don’t need to be LeBron James to appreciate basketball shoes that fit correctly nor Serena Williams to benefit from a properly built/fit tennis racket. Same is true here. The dichotomy between working on one’s game and having well-fit clubs is a false one.

      Best,

      Matt

  90. Wayne Lockwood

    Very interesting and informative. #SecretGiveway

  91. Very good info it was interesting to see that high or low did not match up perfectly with with steep or shallow attack.
    #SecretGiveway

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