Bounce, sole and grind with Wedges
If you are asked which wedge it is, you usually get 56° as an answer. Of course this means the loft which is decisive for the length. Usually wedges move between 48° and 60° - depending on how much loft the pitching wedge has and how much leeway you want to have upwards.
Good players pay great attention to cover these distances without big gaps. They also want to have wedges with certain characteristics in terms of playability. And here the sole and the bounce are decisive. There are players who have wedges with the same loft and different bounce in their bag. At first sight this doesn't make any sense at all. But as we will see later, it does.
Grind: The sole of a wedge
The sole comes in different versions, the so-called grinds. In the past the choice was very limited, but now the leading club builders offer a wide range of grinds. It's all about how a club interacts with the ground. A wedge hit from a bald spot interacts differently than a wedge hit in the sand. Here it is important to find a good compromise. You will never have the perfect wedge in a bag for every imaginable situation, because theoretically you need the right sole with the right bounce and the right loft. Such a bag would probably have to contain over 100 clubs...
Most popular are M, F and S Grind and these should also be offered by all wedge manufacturers. The M (or also a K Grind) are particularly suitable for bunker punches. If you don't care much about soles you should at least pay attention to this one. Namely that at least one wedge is the one that has a lot of bounce and the right sole for bunker shots. Here the mistake is often made to choose the wrong grind or to venture into the bunker with too little bounce. Exactly this should be avoided.
The bounce is given in ° and is roughly the gap between the bottom and the lower edge of the club face. The higher the bounce, the larger the gap. A wedge with 0° bounce, on the other hand, would lie completely flat on the ground.
Before we make things too complicated you can simply say:
If you play a wedge from a bare ground like a road (in extreme cases) or a Scottish fairway, a small bounce is recommended. This is the only way to get the club face under the ball and the ball into the air. Roughly speaking.
If you play from locations where the ball lies high like a semi-rough or a bunker, a higher bounce is recommended. The high bounce prevents the wedge from digging too deep into the ground and causing shots that are too fat. In short: from this position you don't need to worry about getting the club face under the ball. On the contrary: low bounce is even a hindrance.
Fine-tuning the bounce
Many manufacturers make the decision at bounce at least partially. For example, you can rarely buy a 60° wedge with a high bounce. Simply because this club is mostly used for pitches and lob shots where the wedge has to dig under the ball to generate loft.
The tendency is relatively simple: The bounce is rather low for wedges with little loft, rather high for medium lofts and rather low for high lofts. This is because you usually have a sand wedge in the bag (54-56°) which needs a lot of bounce because it is - logically - often used in the sand.
Sometimes, however, you have the choice and can more or less freely determine the bounce. You can adjust the loft (not the bounce) relatively easily with good wedges. That means if you want a 56° wedge with little bounce, but this is not offered, you can take a 54° wedge with desired bounce and change the loft by 2°. This consequently adds 2° to the bounce as well.
There are many possibilities, but why exactly should you do that? For one thing, swings are different and can require different bounces. Then the areas of application vary. Some players prefer to make a full swing out of 70 meters instead of half or three-quarter swings. Some players want to have a wedge with little bounce around the green because they tend to pitch rather than chip or prefer lob shots. Just think of Phil Mickelson who even plays a 64° wedge with practically no bounce.
Popular and common problems related to Bounces
In the following we look at typical mistakes that can occur in the game and for which you as a player can rarely do anything. It is often due to the material. If you have never heard of bounce before, you won't get the idea that it's the bounce, the club and not yourself.
Longer approaches with wedges are too fat
If you have a somewhat steeper swing and for example make a three-quarter swing on a typical "continental European" fairway, which isn't too short and whose ground is mostly a bit looser, you can get problems with low bounce. A wedge with too little bounce will dig itself into the ground. If the club reaches the ground a tick before the ball, this can result in particularly ugly shots: fat and short. Usually so short that the divot flies further than the ball. In this case a wedge with more bounce is absolutely necessary. Or these shots are made with a wedge that already has a higher bounce.
Topped shots with wedges
The opposite is the case with players who tend to have a flat swing and play their wedges with little ground contact. Here the bounce may be too high and the club may not be able to dig sufficiently under the ball. The result is topped balls. Especially on dry fairways like those found in Scotland or bald spots some wedges can be impossible to play for such players.