This is a review of the best wedges for beginners and high handicappers in 2023.
It’s extremely easy to quickly rack up your score by having a poor short game, especially if you’re just starting in the sport. Regardless if you drive the ball well or hit your longer irons great, you’re still going to end up three-putting most holes if you’re pitching the ball 8 yards away from the hole.
As long-term golfers ourselves, we know how important our wedges are in determining if we’re making a bogey or a par for each hole. Unlike your longer irons and driver, wedges are all about accuracy and consistency.
Our top pick is the Cleveland CBX 2 Cavity Back wedges.
That said, we’ve come up with the ultimate buying guide for the best wedges for beginners and high handicappers. These 6 wedges are great options that will give you the feel, forgiveness, and confidence you need to play great golf from 140 yards and in.
Our Top 6 Picks
- Cleveland CBX 2 Cavity Back (Winner: Best Wedges For Beginners)
- Callaway Mack Daddy CB (Runner Up: Best Wedge for Forgiveness)
- Cleveland Smart Sole 4 (Runner-Up 2: Best Bunker and Sand Wedge Option)
- PING Glide 3.0 (Best Premium Wedge for All-Skill Levels)
- Wilson Harmonized SG (best Bang for Your Buck)
- Square Strike Wedges (Best Straight Hitting Wedge)
6 Best Wedges For Beginners
We made sure that every wedge option on this list meets most of the criteria in our wedge buying guide covered below.
1. Cleveland CBX 2 Cavity Back Wedges (Winner: Best Wedges For Beginners)
- Available from 46 to 60 loft
- Extremely forgiving with cavity back design
- Famous Cleveland grooves fitted by their Rotex Face Technology
- Provides great feel and consistency
- Comes in lightweight steel or graphite shafts
- Quite pricey for your first wedge but will last you for a long time
- Not the best wedge for low handicappers
Cleveland is well known for producing some of the best wedges in the world. That said, the Cleveland CBX 2 Cavity Back wedge is the best wedges for beginners you can get.
They made the hot list for Golf Digest in 2020 as some of the most desirable wedges due to how forgiving these wedges are and the amazing feel they provide.
Most golf manufacturers don’t focus too much on forgiveness with their wedges, but not Cleveland claiming that the CBX 2 wedges provide “off-the-charts forgiveness thanks to a new Hollow-Cavity, while the Dynamic Sole boosts all-around versatility. The Cleveland CBX 2 is a forgiving, versatile wedge optimized for golfers who play cavity back irons.”
Simply put, the cavity design of the CBX 2 provides amazing perimeter weighting where off-center hits still produce quality shots as they are straightened out for you.
The wedge also feels balanced and pure. This is possible thanks to their famous Enhanced Feel Balancing Technology that delivers a toe-bias center of gravity (CG), while a Gelback TPU Insert reduces the vibration from impact.
Finally, if you’re looking for a wedge that has great detail in its grooves, the CBX 2 comes with its Fourth Generation Rotex Face Technology which consists of the sharpest Tour Zip Grooves and the most precise face milling to deliver maximum spin to improve the accuracy of your short game.
If you’re getting the CBX 2, we recommend their 56-degree wedge in a bounce of 12-degrees. This, combined with a wide sole makes it glide through the turf easily.
If black is your favorite color, they have a black version of the same club available!
2. Callaway Mack Daddy CB Wedges (Runner Up: Best Wedge for Forgiveness)
- Probably the most forgiving wedge you can get
- Many loft and bounce options
- Extremely high spin from Groove-in-Groove Technology
- Large club face to give you confidence
- New cavity back series of the Mack Daddys
- Micro grooves may wear out eventually, affecting the performance slightly
Callaway’s Mack Daddy wedges were a famous set of blade wedges available for lower handicappers. Fortunately for us, Callaway has released a series of cavity back of Mack Daddy wedges for beginners and higher handicappers!
With a big club face and its famous Groove-in-Groove technology, the Mack Daddy CB wedge is easily one of the most forgiving wedges you can buy.
Let’s talk more about the Groove in Groove because that’s what stands out about these wedges the most. To keep things simple, Callaway has horizontally milled mini-grooves, which they call ‘Micro Positives’ in-between the main grooves (legal). These micro-grooves help grab the ball’s cover to increase spin significantly on a number of different shots, making it a perfect wedge for control, and accurate pitching and chipping.
Furthermore, these are cavity back clubs, therefore, you’re getting great perimeter weighting where most shots, even not-so-great ones, are going to be relatively straight.
You can get these wedges from a loft range of 46 to 60 degrees as well, so you’re covered from yardages within 120 yards.
3. Cleveland Smart Sole 4 (Runner-Up 2: Best Bunker and Sand Wedge Option)
- Extremely good sand wedge
- Feel Balancing Technology to provide high MOI
- Very wide sole for a smooth glide through any turf
- 3 set allows you to play from pretty much any lie within 140 yards
- Only 3 lofts to choose from 42, 50, 58
- Not as much spin as the other wedges on this list
We’ve all had our scores ruined by the bunker at some point. With the sand wedge being the most important wedge for any golfer to prioritize first, Cleveland’s Smart Sole 4 wedges are some of the best sand wedges you can get as a beginner.
Its very wide three-tiered sole and long leading edge make it one of the best wedges for turf interaction and thus is a great wedge for the fairway, rough, and especially the bunker.
The C Wedge is pretty much an 8-iron and is an amazing club for chipping and the bump and run. While the G Wedge bridges the yardage gap between the C and S Wedge. That said if you’re looking for a wedge that focuses more on bunker shots, get the Smart Sole S Wedge. We recommend, however, getting all three wedges to fully ensure you’re all set with your short game.
Now that we’ve shown you our top 3 best wedges for beginners, let’s dive a bit deeper and review some other really great wedges with their own unique features.
4. PING Glide 3.0 (Best Premium Wedge for All-Skill Levels)
- Blade design but plays like a cavity-back
- A wedge that can last you a long time
- Lightweight club
- High MOI with a firm feel and decent feedback
- Smaller head and sole so not the best for beginners
- Not as much bounce due to the sole design
PING is usually known more for its irons and drivers. However, the Glide 3.0 wedge is an impressive option for beginners and high handicappers to consider.
Look-wise, the PING Glide 3.0 shares many features to a blade/ player’s wedge. However, performance-wise it plays just like an improvement wedge.
Its cavity-back designs ensure you’re getting the perimeter weighting distributed at the edges of the clubface, straightening your mishits. Furthermore, the deep sharp grooves produce maximum spin and won’t wear out anytime soon.
However, we see mid handicappers benefiting more from this wedge as it has a smaller head and thinner sole. However, if you’re willing to grind pass the challenge you’ll face initially with this wedge, this wedge will be the best option for you if you’re looking to stick with one wedge that encompasses many of the features of a player’s wedge.
5. Wilson Harmonized SG Wedges (Best Bang for Your Buck)
- Weighted club head
- Amazing 56-degree sand wedge
- Bang for your buck
- Can get a full wedge set that covers most of the important lofts: 50, 52, 56, 60
- Narrow grip that many people spend extra money to replace after purchase
- Smaller club face
There’s not a lot of Wilson Staff fanboys and girls out there, but those who are can tell you how underrated Wilson Staff golf clubs are.
The Wilson Harmonized SG wedges are some of the most bang for your buck wedges you can get on the market.
We love its 56-degree option that comes with 12-degrees of bounce, an almost ideal ratio for beginners and high handicappers to have on their sand wedge.
With a blade-like design, these clubs offer a great solid feel while offering the forgiveness of a cavity-back. Its wide sole combined with its leading edge allows the club to get under the ball and easily glide through the turf without feeling stuck in the ground.
That said, as a beginner avoid its 64-degree wedge. It’s going to be hard for most beginners to play effectively with any club above 60 degrees of loft (basically a lob wedge). That said, the 60-degree option can still be something to consider if you want more loft to help you get out of bunkers and use the 56-degree wedge for your pitching.
Some may not like the glare from the wedge. If you’re sensitive to this, then consider the Black Chromed version.
6. Square Strike Wedge (Best Straight Hitting Wedge)
- Great for chipping and the bump-and-run
- 330g weight which is similar to most putters (roughly 30g heavier than a sand wedge) – minimizes wrist action
- Extremely high MOI
- Really hard not to hit the ball straight
- Legal for tournament use
- Three well distributed loft options to fit your entire short game
- May not look professional with this club in your bag
- Not great for those who can break 90
If you’ve been following golf channels on social media or watching golf on youtube, you’ve probably seen the Square Strike Wedge at some point.
As the name suggests, the Square Strike is the perfect wedge if you’re having a hard time squaring your wedge or chunking your wedge in the ground for your chipping. The wide sole and unique design of the golf club make it a great option for greenside chipping, especially if you’re good with the bump and run.
Don’t rule this wedge out either just because of his unorthodox design. It can be used legally in tournaments.
That said, this club isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re struggling with your short game, particularly your greenside pitching with a higher loft wedge, the Square Strike wedge is definitely worth trying.
Important Things To Consider When Buying The Best Wedges For Beginners and High Handicappers
When looking for the right golf club for beginners, always prioritize forgiveness. With the advancement in golf technology, there’s a bunch of features available for beginners and high handicappers that allow golf clubs to be much more forgiving to play with.
Here, we’ll break down these features that make a wedge forgiving. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is a Wedge?
Amateur golfers are often confused about the difference between an iron and a wedge, but in fact, they are used for very different situations.
What makes a wedge different is its higher loft and shorter club length.
In case you forgot, a club’s loft is the angle (in degrees) between the clubface and the shaft. The higher the loft a golf club has, the higher the ball will fly, the less distance it’ll travel, and the easier it is they get the ball up in the air (more forgiving).
A standard 9-iron has a loft of 43 degrees, while anything above 44 degrees is considered a wedge.
Given how important it is to prioritize accuracy when you’re hitting the ball onto the green, your wedges, being the highest lofted golf clubs around, should be your go-to options for your short game (140 yards and in).
Finally, the shorter club length of the wedges makes it easier to control the club head throughout your golf swing.
5 Types of Wedges
There are 5 types of golf wedges categorized in the loft range of 44 degrees to 64 degrees. These are the Pitching Wedge (PW), Gap or Approach Wedge (AW), Sand Wedge (SW), Lob Wedge (LW), and a Golf Chipper.
Pitching Wedge (PW)
The pitching wedge is the most common wedge found in most golf bags not because it’s the most usable wedge, but because they come in almost every golf set you buy. That said, the pitching wedge is seldom used to actually pitch the ball onto the green because of its higher loft compared to the other four wedges.
With a loft range of 44 to 48 degrees, shots by this golf club are often too steep to effectively land the ball on the green accurately as the ball will often roll past your intended target.
That said, this wedge is mostly used for chipping and the bump and run.
If you’re planning to use this as your approaching shot, know that the average distance range with the pitching wedge is 100 to 120 yards.
Gap / Approach Wedge (AW)
The gap wedge fills the traditional 8-degree loft gap between the pitching wedge and sand wedge. As a result, it also hits farther than the sand wedge but shorter than the pitching wedge.
Unlike the pitching wedge, the gap wedge is very often used by golfers for pitching the ball. It has a loft range from 50 to 53 degrees and has an average distance range of 80 to 100 yards.
This wedge is also helpful for chipping and is most commonly used when the sand wedge isn’t enough to help you reach the green.
Sand Wedge (SW)
If you were to only get one wedge, the sand wedge should be your first priority.
The sand wedge is the most versatile wedge you can get for your approaching shot and overall short game. It has a loft range of 54 to 58 degrees making it a great club for chipping, bunker shots, and pitching from 100 yards and in.
For any beginner golfer, the sand wedge is extremely forgiving, easy to launch the ball high into the air, and by far the easier to become familiar with.
From 54 degrees and more, you’ll start to notice less roll when your balls land on the green. Therefore, golfers who can be accurate with their wedges can have a dart-like precision when landing the ball on the green.
Finally, when we talk about the sand wedge, we need to talk about ‘bounce’. We’ll talk more about what this is in the next section, but for those who know what it is. Sand wedges tend to have a fatter sole with a 10 to 12 degrees bounce. This gives the sand wedge a smoother turf interaction with bunkers and most surfaces, allowing the club to glide through the surface without getting stuck in the dirt.
The average distance with the sand wedge ranges from 70 to 90 yards which is usually enough to cover most approaches to the green.
Lob Wedge (LW)
The lob wedge is like a double-edged sword. If you’re good with it, man can you hit some accurate chips and bunker shots.
With a loft range of 60 to 64 degrees, you’ll want these clubs especially when you’re stuck in a tall bunker.
They’ve got a ‘dart-like’ accuracy if you can manage to land the ball exactly where you want it on the green where the ball will simply stop right where it lands.
That said, these clubs aren’t really forgiving for beginners and high handicappers or golfers as it’s easy to hit the ball too thin.
If you’re looking to pitch with these wedges, they work great from 60 to 70 yards, but that also depends on your golf swing.
Chippers are a relatively new category of wedges.
They’re quite unique golf clubs as they’re short but have a lower loft ranging from 30 to 37 degrees. As a result, they’re solely built for chipping, hence their name ‘chippers’.
In our opinion, these clubs shouldn’t be your priority as a beginner or high handicapper as they’re not that versatile and you can learn to chip well enough with just a pitching wedge or any other wedge for that matter. Instead, opting for the wedges mentioned above will often bring you further in your progression.
When we’re talking about wedges, particularly the sand wedge, we need to know what bounce is.
Bounce is the angle between the sole of the club and the club face. The larger that angle, the more bounce that wedge has. However, don’t confuse this with the loft of the club which is the angle between the club face and the shaft.
But what does having a higher bounce mean? The importance of bounce is that it works to keep your golf club from digging into the ground. Let us explain.
Let’s focus on the leading edges of the clubs shown in the illustration above. That edge is where the club makes contact with the ground first during your golf swing. So, the bounce of a club works to keep the club from digging into the ground.
How much bounce should I use?
While your swing type plays a big role in the bounce of the club, the conditions you play in have an even bigger role.
If you’re playing on wetter/ softer fairways and fluffier sand bunkers, then you may want more bounce on your wedges.
However, if conditions are drier and bunkers are less soft, less bounce is ideal to prevent your club from skidding up from the grass, resulting in thinning the golf ball.
Keep in mind, wedges usually have 4 to 18 degrees of bounce.
- 4 to 6 degrees is considered low bounce
- 7 to 10 degrees is considered neutral/ medium bounce
- 10 and high is considered high bounce
If you’re not sure which to go with, settling for a lower bounce is often the safest bet.
Since accuracy and control are so important in your wedges, make sure that you maintain the grooves of your wedges to allow the right amount of spin and feel consistent.
Different manufacturers have different ways of impacting the ideal amount of grooves to deliver the best spin rate possible with the golf ball. Generally speaking, there’s not much you can look into but just make sure you clean your grooves on your golf clubs, particularly with your wedges so they won’t wear out.
A wedges grind is the removal or manipulation of the sole of the club in order to change its original turf interaction.
Many more experienced golfers would often customize the sole of their wedges by grinding the shape of the sole, hence the name. Doing so allows golfers to square or close the club face more effectively by allowing the grind to make their swing shallower or steeper. This is all done so without affecting the bounce of the club.
As a beginner, don’t worry too much about grind until you’ve become a lower-handicapper or when you reach a mid-handicap (generally 11 to 20 handicap).
A Wedge’s Build
Like irons, wedges also come in two types of builds. Specifically, cavity-backs and blades (muscle-backs).
Cavity- Backed Wedges
Cavity-backed wedges are wedges where the back of the club head has been hollowed intentionally to allow for more forgiveness.
With cavity-backs, golf manufacturers are able to distribute the weight of the club around the edges of the club face, a process also known as perimeter weighting. Doing so allows mishits off the toe or heel to allow the club to still remain relatively squared while delivering enough power to produce a relatively straight golf shot.
The downside to this design is that it offers less feedback and shot-shaping abilities. However, as a beginner, these features are not as important as forgiveness from mishits is what beginners and high handicappers often need more.
Blade Wedges (Muscle-backs)
We’ve all heard of the ‘blades’ before. They’re the sexiest and most desirable golf clubs in the market.
That said, beginners and high handicappers should avoid buying these clubs as they demand consistency and don’t offer much forgiveness.
Unlike cavity-backed wedges, most of the weight of the club face is distributed at the center of the club face on bladed clubs. Therefore, shots off-center will result in poor-quality shots and the club face twisting on impact.
For professional golfers and lower handicappers, hitting the ball consistently dead-center is not really an issue. What matters more is a club’s shot shaping versatility and feedback accuracy, which is what blade clubs offer.
Most wedges come with a steel shaft for accuracy and a better feel. Graphite shafts can be more forgiving, but you’ll rarely be swinging at full speed with a wedge (and you shouldn’t be in most cases), the forgiveness offered by a graphite shaft wouldn’t be much compared to when we use graphite shafts on longer irons.
In this case, a steel shaft on a wedge is great to allow a more solid feel with the wedge and for the club head to be more in sync with your golf swing.
That said, if you’re an older golfer with a slower swing speed, a graphite shaft may be a good option to look into.
When are wedges useful?
The wedge is the go-to club to approach your short game. Here’s a couple of situations where the wedge can come in handy:
- Pitching the ball 120 to 140 yards and in (depending on your golf swing)
- Getting out of bunkers
- Greenside chipping
- Bump and run
- Getting out of high bunkers or other lies with a high elevation obstacle ahead
How many wedges should I carry?
According to the USGA, you’re allowed a maximum of 14 clubs in your golf bag. That makes room for roughly 3 to 4 wedges which is also the amount we recommend you to carry.
However, that’s purely based on preference.
We would recommend you prioritize a sand wedge if you were to only get one wedge. Besides that, the wedge priority we recommend to beginners is as followed (from most important to least): sand wedge, gap wedge, pitching wedge, and lob wedge.
If you were to use 4 wedges, try to have at least 4 degrees of loft apart from one another.
How to practice efficiently with wedges?
The wedge is the easiest club to get the ball in the air. However, many golfers stop practicing after hitting a couple of shots up in the air.
Remember, accuracy is what matters most with your wedges, and being able to become extremely accurate with your wedge shots will significantly lower your golf handicap.
To practice efficiently with your wedges, don’t approach how you would with your irons and drivers. Swing speed and simply ripping the golf ball is not your focus here.
Instead, practice half swings and full swings with control, smoothness, and tempo. Most importantly, always practice by hitting to one of the closer yardage flags in the range. Simulate if you’re in a golf course pitching/ chipping to the green.
Also, avoid practicing the flop shot. We know many beginners want to learn how to hit a flop shot after seeing Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods destroying their opponents with it. However, as a beginner, all the way to a mid-handicapper, pitching and chipping will do. Instead, master the bump and run if you’re looking for a different alternative to chipping.
A good wedge can be the key to lowering your handicap. For most golfers, it’s the quality of their short game and how close they can land the ball to the hole that’s stopping them from three-putting each hole they head into.
If you’re here to get your first wedge, we recommend the Cleveland CBX 2 Cavity Back wedges. Prioritize the sand wedge if you’re on a budget, but most importantly start practicing with these wedges when they arrive.
If you follow our practice tips with the wedge and can confidently execute them in the golf course, we promise you’ll be one step closer than all the golfers who just practice the driver and their 7-iron at the golf range.