Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for best sand wedges

For the average golfer, one of the most stressful times on the course occurs when the ball lands in a sand trap. Pros never seem to have a problem with sand traps; in fact, they almost prefer a shot from a trap as opposed to a tall rough around the green. But a beginner player fears they might need a few shots to escape the trap, thereby causing their score to balloon. Even worse, a high-handicap player might scald the ball in the trap, causing it to fly out in a line drive that goes far over the green, creating additional issues.

Having the right sand wedge in your bag and practicing with it can help you avoid this embarrassment. A sand wedge has a sharp club face angle that helps you pop the ball into the air and out of a sand trap, giving you a better chance of escaping in one shot.

With practice, you may even be able to land the ball out of the sand trap and near the pin, giving you a chance for a one putt (called a sand save) that you can brag about for the rest of the round.

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A sand wedge works from a sand trap, but you can also use it from the fairway, rough, fringe of the green, or tee box. Nowhere in the rules does it state that this club is only for sand.

Key considerations

Golfers can select from multiple types of wedges. Club manufacturers typically define a sand wedge as a wedge with a club face angle between 54 and 60 degrees. This sets it apart from a pitching wedge or gap wedge, which has a shallower angle in the club face. It also sets it apart from a lob wedge, which has a sharper angle in the club face.

Other than the angle of the club face, the design of a sand wedge is not all that different from other types of wedges. If you are in a sand trap and feel more comfortable using a pitching or lob wedge than a sand wedge, you certainly can.

Finding the right angle in your sand wedge depends on personal preference as well as the other wedges you carry. For example, if you already own a 52-degree gap wedge, you’re not going to want to pick a 54-degree sand wedge, as the two clubs are extremely similar. Try to select wedges that have a gap of 6 or 8 degrees between them so you have a nice collection of clubs for different types of shots.

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Did you know?
Many times, a sand wedge will have an “S” on it, although some sand wedges have the angle of the club face in degrees printed on them (such as “56”).


The most important personalized feature in a sand wedge is the bounce angle. “Bounce angle” refers to the angle of the sole of the club to the ground. (The sole of the club does not sit flat to the ground as you might expect.)

You’ll want to match the bounce angle of your sand wedge to the type of swing you have and the conditions in which you often play. The majority of clubs fit into one of three general categories regarding bounce: low bounce, standard bounce, and high bounce.

A low-bounce sand wedge has a bounce angle of 6 degrees or less. With a low bounce angle, the club tends to work in heavy sand or firm ground, as it prevents the club from bouncing off the ground and impacting the ball improperly. It digs into the firm ground just a little bit, allowing for a proper shot. This is a rare bounce angle to find in a sand wedge, though; few golfers use it.

A standard-bounce sand wedge, also known as a mid-bounce sand wedge, has a bounce angle of 7 to 12 degrees. This delivers an average performance for golfers with a typical swing plane. The majority of golfers will want this type of sand wedge.

A high-bounce sand wedge has a bounce angle of 12 to 18 degrees. It’s best for soft or fine sand as well as damp ground. As the club starts to dig through the soil, the bounce angle prevents the club from digging too deeply, flattening out the swing angle for a proper shot.

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Did you know?
For several decades, the sand wedge was the club with the greatest angle of loft in a golfer’s bag. Within the past several years, lob wedges have also become popular for their sharper angles.


Men’s irons: Cobra Golf Cobra King SpeedZone Iron Set
A sand wedge is rarely included in a set of men’s golf irons; you’d need to purchase the sand wedge separately. Some golfers prefer to purchase a sand wedge that matches the brand of irons they use, but others don’t mind using a different brand. This set of men’s irons from Cobra Golf is one of our favorites. Its one-length design throughout the set appeals to those who struggle hitting long irons.

Golf gloves: Bionic StableGrip Golf Glove
The right golf glove can help you avoid blisters while playing while allowing you to maintain a firm grip on the sand wedge. This Bionic brand glove has excellent durability and padding. Be sure to check the sizing chart for the best fit.

Putters: Scotty Cameron Select Newport Putter
Once you escape the sand trap and place the ball a few feet from the pin with your sand wedge, you’ll want a high-quality putter to finish the sand save. This Scotty Cameron putter delivers impressive balance in a highly popular design. Choose from three lengths.

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Expert Tip
If you use your sand wedge in a sand trap, be sure to clean it each time, as the sand particles could scratch the finish if allowed to build up or sit in the grooves.

Sand wedge prices

Inexpensive: The least-expensive sand wedges cost $30 to $50 and are extremely basic clubs with few design features that a low-handicap golfer wants. Golfers who are newer to the sport will be able to use them just fine, though. 

Mid-range: A mid-range sand wedge should cost $50 to $90. You might be able to select its bounce design, but don’t expect many other high-end features.

Expensive: Sand wedges aimed at experienced players cost between $90 and $200. These wedges have multiple design features you can select when ordering, ensuring a low-handicap player has the features they need.


Here are some tips to help you have more success with a shot from a sand trap with a sand wedge.

  • Be confident. The majority of amateur golfers have very little confidence with sand shots. Take time to practice this shot between rounds, giving yourself more confidence when your golf buddies are watching during a round.

  • Steady your feet. Wiggle your feet a few inches deep into the sand, giving yourself a sturdy base for your swing. Line up the ball off your front foot.

  • Open the club face. You want the sand wedge to propel the ball out of the sand with a high trajectory. To accomplish this, turn your feet to aim several degrees to the left of the target (for a right-handed golfer), but leave the club face square to the target. This opens the club face, helping pop the ball into the air more easily.

  • Try to avoid direct contact with the ball. The sand wedge should hit the sand first, a fraction of an inch behind the ball. If you dig too much sand, the ball will only travel a few inches. If you hit the ball first, you’re likely to hit a low, hard shot that will go over the green. Practice is the best way to get a feel for a successful sand wedge shot.

  • Follow the rules. Remember, you cannot ground your club in the sand trap. This means you must hold the club above the sand when addressing the ball rather than resting it on the sand. The first time the club contacts the sand is part of the swing. Practice this way so it becomes a habit.

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Sand wedges are available in multiple colors and finishes, but these differences are more for aesthetics than efficacy.


Q. Will a sand wedge help me avoid the embarrassment of having to take more than one swing from inside a sand trap?
A. A sand wedge does not guarantee success, but its design is certainly helpful for this type of shot. Ultimately, you still need to execute the proper swing and ball contact to escape the trap. 

Q. Do I have to carry a sand wedge in my bag?
A. Not necessarily. Some inexperienced golfers probably don’t have the skill to properly deploy a sand wedge, which can be a tricky club to use successfully without practice. Some players prefer to use a pitching wedge or 7-iron from a sand trap, which is perfectly legal. Use whichever club gives you confidence when swinging from a sand trap.

Q. Is it smart to use a sand wedge for a full swing shot from the fairway?
A. It can be, depending on your comfort level with the club. You will want a decent lie before using a sand wedge from the fairway. An average golfer can hit a sand wedge 80 to 100 yards with a full swing. The extra height you’ll receive on a full shot with a sand wedge is helpful to cause the ball to stop quickly on the green, which is a significant benefit.

Q. Does a sand wedge work when my ball is in deep rough?
A. Actually, this is a good club to select when you’re in the deep rough and looking for a punch out to the fairway. The sharp angle of the club face cuts through the tall, thick grass in the rough better than most other clubs in your bag. However, if the ball is tight to the ground in the rough rather than sitting up on the grass a little bit, you may struggle to make pure contact using the sand wedge.

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