This is Golf Leap’s review on the best sand wedges in 2023.
Many amateur golfers across the globe have no idea they are sacrificing performance, lower scores, and fun when playing the game by using the wrong wedges for their specific swing, particularly for the bunker.
To the joy of players everywhere, modern golf club manufacturers are dedicating more time and effort into providing wedges catered toward creating easier turf interaction and better results for specific golf course conditions and swing types.
Unfortunately, they don’t always make this information easy to understand. That’s where we come in. In an easily digestible form below we’ve broken down the five best sand wedges currently on the market for every skill level and style of player and determined that the Titleist Vokey SM9 was the best sand wedge on the market today.
As a person who has paid close attention to the golf equipment space for the last few decades, I can confidently say wedge design has never been better than right now, and we’re very excited to share it with you.
The Best Overall
Titleist Vokey SM9
✓ No. 1 Best-Selling Wedge Line Ever
TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3
✓ Best Wedge that’s Packed with Forgiveness
Ping Glide 4.0
✓ Best Sand Wedge for Generating High Spin
Our Top 7 Picks
- Titleist Vokey SM9 Golf Wedge (The Best Sand Wedge: Immense Dedication to Excellent Quality and Design)
- TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 Golf Wedge (Runner Up: Larger Face for Greater Short Game Creativity)
- Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Golf Wedge (Runner-Up 2: Cavity Back Wedges for Struggling Short Games)
- Mizuno T22 Golf Wedge (Forged Wedge for Mid to Lower Handicaps)
- Ping Glide 4.0 Golf Wedge (Most Technology Packed & Sand Specific Grind Option)
5 Best Sand Wedges
Be sure to stick around to the end of our list where we have a “Wedge Buying Guide” and answer some of your most frequently asked questions regarding sand wedges.
1. Titleist Vokey SM9 Golf Wedge (Winner: Immense Dedication to Excellent Quality and Design)
- Six Grind Options
- Online Fitting Tool/App
- No. 1 Best-Selling Wedge Line Ever
- Four Finish Options
- Exceptional quality and attention to detail
- Top Tier Price
- Loft and Grind Options Can Overwhelm Beginner Players
Titleist’s Vokey Design “Spin Milled” wedge line has been at the forefront of creating many of the best and most advanced sand wedges in the game for over 25 years. Since their initial launch in 1997, Bob Vokeys Spin Milled wedges have been the leading wedges sold at retail marketplaces, and since 2004 they’ve been the most played wedges on the PGA Tour with the Titleist Vokey SM9 being the best sand wedge in the market right now.
We believe both professional and amateur players love the Spin Milled wedge series for a few reasons; 1. Vokey continually innovates and tweaks Sole Grind options generation after generation. 2. Titleist/Vokey has immense dedication to fitting players into the best equipment for their swing.
The Titleist Vokey SM9s had to find the top spot on our list because no other wedge manufacturer prides themselves on having a sole grind option that will fit every type of player perfectly. In the simplest terms, a “Sole Grind” relates to how the “sole” of a wedge (the part of the club that actually lays on the ground) is manipulated to perfect how the club interacts with the turf. Bob Vokey has spent multiple decades perfecting his six tour-proven sole grinds to accommodate any type, of course, conditions a player may face and the specific type of swing that player may have (Steep, Shallow, Neutral, etc.). Each sole grind corresponds to a specific “bounce angle” (the angle created between the sole and leading edge) designed to give players more consistency and accuracy.
These sole grinds on the Vokey include the “L Grind,” the “M Grind,” the “S Grind,” the “F Grind,” the “K Grind,” and the “D Grind.” The “L Grind” has the lowest bounce and is only offered in a 60 degree wedge, designed for extremely firm turf. The “M Grind” is the most versatile grind Vokey offers and includes heel, toe, and trailing edge relief for enhanced playability on neutral turf conditions. The “S Grind” is best for neutral to firm course conditions and works well for players who prefer square-faced shots with simple technique. The “F Grind” is the most played sand wedge grind on Tour and was designed for every square face shot. The “K Grind” is the highest bounce wedge in the lineup and is particularly designed to help players get height in softer sand and turf conditions. Lastly, the highest bounce “D Grind” option was designed for players with a steep angle of attack. The increased bounce allows for increased forgiveness and less fat or thinned shots.
Now while that might look like an overwhelming amount of options for personalizing the feel and performance of your sand wedge, Titleist and the team at Vokey have developed multiple ways to determine what is the best fit for you. If you’re unable to attend a Titleist club fitting event to get recommendations in person, Vokey has developed a “Wedge Selector Tool” on their website you can check out here, or additionally they’ve recently launched a Vokey wedge fitting app to give players personalized suggestions from anywhere.
The updated SM9 wedge line features updated wedge technology designed to improve performance from the previous SM8 wedge generation. Each SM9 features a progressive center of gravity throughout the lofts, but the technical “sand wedges” (54°/56°) have a mid-center of gravity (CG) that promotes lower and more controllable sand wedge launch and ball flight conditions. The revamped “Spin Milled grooves” begin with a new cutting process that increases spin and durability and also features “Micro-grooves” between the grooves to create maximum spin control on partial as well as full shots.
It’s pretty clear that Titleist and Bob Vokey have dedicated an immense amount of time, dedication, and respect to bringing players the best wedges on the market currently. We hope you’ll consider them for your upcoming golfing season.
2. TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 Golf Wedge (Runner Up: Larger Face for Greater Short Game Creativity)
- Larger Toe Section for Greater Face Area/Shot Making Capabilities
- Aged Copper Finish, Raw Face Produces Rust
- Full Face Grooves for Maximum Spin
- Comes with the high-quality KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 shaft
- Only 1 Finish Option
The TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 wedges were designed to be the most versatile and imagination-inspiring wedges TaylorMade has ever released. With an updated head shape, revamped grooves, and more grooves per face, players experience greater spin, forgiveness, and playability all at a lower and more controllable trajectory.
As hinted at in the name, TaylorMade has extended the “toe section” of their TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 wedges to provide more surface area for players to make contact with for greater shot-making capabilities than the standard wedge design. The enlarged toe design of the Hi-Toe wedge helped TaylorMade equipment engineers bring the center of gravity closer to the center of the face for better contact and a lower, more controllable ball flight that’s less impacted by the wind.
By changing the head shape and adding more contact surface area, TaylorMade felt it was only right to extend the grooves to cover from the heel to toe and add “Raised Micro-Ribs” between each groove. The extended groove design allows for greater creativity in shots close to the green and the added texture between grooves created by the “Raised Micro-Ribs” improves performance and spin creation on all shots. Additionally, TaylorMade says their updated grooves are sharper, narrower, and deeper than previous models for as much short game spin as possible for users.
The Hi-Toe 3 wedge series is available in six different loft options ranging from 50 to 60 degrees. Unlike Titleists Vokey, TaylorMade only gives users different bounce options with the lob wedges in the series (58°/60°), and those bounce options are entirely based on the player’s turf conditions and swing styles. Every sand wedge in the series comes with a “standard bounce” degree of 10, which TaylorMade says allows for the most versatility and playability for many different swings and turf conditions.
The Hi-Toe 3 wedges were initially announced as having four different finish options but TaylorMade eventually settled on a unique variation of a few designs. This is the first TaylorMade wedge to feature their new “Aged Copper” colored finish. This finish was designed to reduce glare and blend seamlessly with the Hi-Toe 3 wedges “Raw Face” that rusts overuse to preserve spin and groove integrity. To further add to the rusting capabilities of the Hi-Toe 3 wedge faces, TaylorMade has introduced a new “Face Sticker” technology that when removed begins the rusting process immediately.
Lastly, an incredibly high-quality KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 is offered as the stock steel shaft with the purchase of a TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3, a favorite of wedge play legends like Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, and Phil Mickelson.
3. Cleveland Smart Sole 4 Golf Wedge (Cavity Back Wedges for Struggling Short Game)
- Most Forgiving Wedge Design On Our List
- Shot Specific Loft Configurations & Club Names
- Cavity Back for Improved Turf Interaction Every Shot
- Very Affordable
- Aimed at Helping Less Skilled Players / More Skilled Players Won’t Benefit As Much
Cleveland Golf is an equipment manufacturer that takes great care in creating wedge options for many different types of golfers. For players needing more wedge confidence, turf interaction, and overall forgiveness, the Cleveland Smart Sole 4 wedges are a fantastic choice.
While many online golf “experts” will be quick to encourage golf lessons over purchasing golf clubs with game improvement technology, for players looking to only change their equipment and not their swing the Smart Sole 4 “wedge system” is perfect.
The Smart Sole 4 “wedge system” can be defined as Cleveland’s ultra-forgiving three-tiered sole design that’s extra wide for increased forgiveness everywhere, especially bunkers. Each wedge in the Cleveland Smart Sole 4 series features a cavity back behind the super-sized sole and is only offered in a “Chipper” (42°), “Gap Wedge” (50°), and “Sand Wedge” (58°) loft configurations.
The “Chipper” is the shortest club in the series and is designed for chip and pitch shots close to the green using a “putting stroke” style swing. The “Gap Wedge” in the series is Cleveland’s way of taking amateur player feedback and providing a solution to players’ problems. Golfers loved the increased sole size and forgiveness of the previous Smart Sole 3 wedges so much that they wanted a wedge that could handle full shots with the same level of forgiveness, hence the creation of the Smart Sole 4 Gap Wedge. And lastly, the “Sand Wedge” is designed with extra perimeter weighting and the same 3-tiered sole to help golfers get up and down from any lie, particularly bunker shots.
As the Smart Sole 4 wedges were designed as “game improvement wedges,” as much forgiveness-boosting technology as possible was implemented into the club’s creation. By ramping up the sole size to closer to that of a Hybrid golf club, higher handicap players that are unconfident in their ball striking ability get to see a much larger club profile. This inspires confidence in players of all skill levels and allows for mis-hit balls to end up closer to their intended target through the forgiveness a larger sole brings.
Additionally, the updated Smart Sole 4 wedges feature new CNC milled grooves that are deeper and sharper than previous models for enhanced stopping power and control around the greens. Since their initial introduction in 2013, Cleveland Smart Sole wedges have been released on a three-year cycle so expect an update to the Smart Sole 4s or even the Smart Sole 5s to be released within the next calendar year. Until then, we hope you’ll consider the ultimate game improvement wedges and “Embrace Easier Golf” as Cleveland encourages with your Smart Sole 4 wedges.
4. Mizuno T22 Golf Wedge (Forged Wedge for Mid to Lower Handicaps)
- 4x Color Finish Options
- 4x Unique Grinds
- 25x No Upcharge Shaft Options
- Loft Specific Grooves
- Higher Tier Price
Mizuno has been creating many of the best and highest quality forged irons since the mid-1960s at the same location in Hiroshima, Japan. This dedication to excellence and superior craftsmanship is most definitely actualized in their newest Mizuno T22 forged wedge series.
When directly compared to the previous generations of Mizuno wedges, (the more traditionally shaped T7 and aggressively shaped T20), the T22 design is somewhat of a marriage between the two designs. The T22’s “Modified Teardrop” club head shaping caters towards a lower handicapper’s eye but by enlarging the size of the sole from previous models players will experience more forgiveness over older generations.
Players are offered multiple finish color options including “Tour Satin Chrome” (a favorite amongst Touring professionals), “Aged Denim Copper” designed to reduce glare, a limited edition “Blue ION”, and a “Raw” option that will rust over time. Thankfully for players, these finishes aren’t only for appearance and bag appeal. Through immense user testing, Mizuno discovered that their new Copper face plating provides players with the softest feeling of any wedge Mizuno has ever produced. Players enjoyed the feeling of the soft Copper face plate so much that Mizuno implemented the same Copper plate underneath the Tour Satin finish as well.
There are four sole grind variations within the new Mizuno T22 wedge series referred to as the “S Grind,” “D Grind,” “C Grind,” and “X Grind.” Each grind shares “trailing edge relief” designed to improve bounce interaction with the turf and ease of use to players, but each grind is also designed for a specific purpose, type of shot, and type of course condition as well.
The “S Grind” has the most full sole and was designed for use on lower lofted wedges and full shots. The “D Grind” has moderate heel and toe relief for players that like to slightly experiment with creative short-game shots. The “C Grind” has heavy heel and toe relief for skilled players and firm turf conditions. Lastly, in the highest lofted lob wedges, Mizuno offers a new “X Grind” with extreme relief on the heel, toe, and trailing edge for players that define themselves as “short game artists” and those that love experimenting with wild shots around the green.
Exceeding every competitor in the space, Mizuno offers their new T22 wedge series with players’ choice of twenty-five (25!) “no-upcharge” premium shafts that can influence the trajectory and performance of golfers’ wedge shots.
Lastly, to improve short game spin and reduce spin drop-off in different conditions, Mizuno designed “Quad Cut Milled Loft Specific” grooves with new “HydroFlow Micro Grooves” between each normal groove to release moisture. Lower lofted wedges feature narrower, deeper grooves that are more beneficial to full shots, while higher lofted wedges feature wider, shallower grooves that are more catered toward partial shots.
The amount of updated technology in the T22 wedge series proves to us that Mizuno will continue to be one of the best-forged golf club manufacturers for a long time to come. If the newly released T22 wedge series sounds like it could improve your game, consider them in your upcoming golfing season.
5. PING Glide 4.0 Golf Wedge (Most Technology Packed & Sand Specific Grind Option)
- 3x Normal Grinds
- 1x Sand Specific Grind
- Face Texture for More Spin
- Loft Specific Grooves
- Many Options Can Be Intimidating to Beginner Players
As our final choice of the best wedges in the market, we selected the highly technologically advanced PING Glide 4.0’s.
To begin, the Glide 4.0 wedges are available in fourteen different lofts and bounce configurations in their three standard grinds, and four different loft and bounce configurations in their bunker and sand game-specific “Eye 2” E grind. If this terminology is confusing, don’t worry, we explain it in much more detail in our “Wedge Buying Guide” below.
The three standard grinds include a “W Grind,” “S Grind,” and “T Grind.” The “W Grind” is the “widest” sole with the most bounce, aimed at being the most forgiving. The “S” grind is the most “standard” grind option Ping offers with moderate trailing edge relief and a rounded leading edge making it ideal for most golfers’ turf conditions and swing styles. Lastly the “T Grind” is the “thinnest” sole shaping offered with the least amount of bounce, which PING says only very skilled short-game players that like to manipulate their wedge faces in shot-making will need. Additionally, the S and T Grind club heads are a little smaller and more refined in their overall shape to appeal to lower-handicap players that enjoy that look.
The “E Grind” deserves its own category because choosing this grind means you get a different wedge head shape entirely. Inspired by Karsten Solheim’s iconic ‘Eye2’ sand wedge of the early 1980s with an extended high-toe and extremely round “dished sole design, PING designed the “E Grind” to give golfers a very easy-to-use option in the sand. The “E Grind” extends the toe section of the club for greater spin-creating groove surface area and tapers the hosel for easier sand-to-sole interaction. Even though we distinguish the “E Grind” into its own category, both the E and W Grinds are aimed at higher to mid-handicap golfers that need increased forgiveness.
PING has packed an intense amount of technology into the Glide 4.0’s, but every bit of it is aimed at helping golfers score their lowest with their wedges. PING increased the size of the elastomer insert in the Glide 4.0 club heads compared to previous Glide wedge generations to provide an improved feel and larger sweet spot for users.
In combination with the Glides precision-milled face and grooves, PING introduced a new “Emery Face Blast” that adds more texture to the overall hitting surface to create greater friction and more interaction between the club and ball for higher spin at a lower launch.
Lastly, PING separates itself from competitors in the space again by offering extended grips (designed for gripping down on the shaft) and their very own “PING Z-Z115” lightweight shaft that was created for greater club head feel and feedback to players.
If you’re a golf gear nut, be sure to give the PING Glide 4.0 wedges a strong consideration for your next golfing season.
Wedge Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Sand Wedge
To accurately choose a sand wedge that’s perfect for your game you need to diagnose a few variables such as your specific Swing Type, Golf Course Conditions, and what exactly Grind, Bounce, and Loft are!
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll know more precisely what to look for and pay attention to when searching for your new wedges in 2023.
There are three different “Swing Types” related to choosing the proper golf wedges also known as the golf swing plane – Shallow, Neutral, and Steep.
Shallow Swings are often referred to as more of a “sweeping motion” type golf swing and usually make thinner and smaller divots. If this sounds like your wedge game, consider using lower-bounce wedges.
Neutral Swings are referred to as “on plane” and result in consistent, normal-sized divots. “Mid bounce” wedges with 7°-10° are suitable for a wide variety of players.
Steep Swings are where 90% of amateur golfers fall and are often referred to as a more “digging motion.” These types of swings benefit from higher bounce angles (greater than 10°) preventing the leading edge of the club from digging too deeply into the ground and experiencing greater control with a higher bounce degree.
Similar to swing types, there are also three variations of commonly experienced golf course conditions. Soft/Lush, Firm, and Normal.
Soft/Lush course conditions usually have deeper rough, softer/deeper sand, and soft/wet greens and fairways.
Firm course conditions are essentially the opposite of the previously mentioned and are usually accompanied by less deep rough, harder greens and fairways, and harder/shallower sand.
Normal course conditions are the middle ground between the two, and where the majority of amateur golfers find the most success.
Grind, Bounce, and Loft of a Wedge
The Grind of a wedge refers to the removal or manipulation of material from the sole of the club (the area that contacts the ground) for improved contact through the turf.
The Bounce of a wedge is the angle created between the leading edge of the wedge and the lowest point of the sole. The greater the bounce degree, the higher the leading edge will sit off the ground.
The Loft of a wedge refers to the angle at which the club’s face rests at address and directly correlates to the height achievable by that club. The higher the loft angle, the higher the ball’s potential trajectory, and the opposite is also true.
The Best Overall
Titleist Vokey SM9
✓ No. 1 Best-Selling Wedge Line Ever
TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3
✓ Best Wedge that’s Packed with Forgiveness
Ping Glide 4.0
✓ Best Sand Wedge for Generating High Spin
FAQ: Best Golf Sand Wedge
When Is It Time To Consider Changing Wedges?
While every equipment manufacturer gives different parameters regarding when players should upgrade their wedges, it’s commonly understood that sand wedges lose their factory level of performance around 75 to 100 rounds of golf played.
The Research and Development team over at Titleists Vokey determined that a new wedge can spin up to 2000+ RPMs more, has a lower more controllable launch angle, and has less than half the rollout of a wedge that has been in use for 125 rounds. If you’re still unsure if it’s time to consider new wedges, Vokey says if your grips feel like they’ve lost their factory feel, it’s likely time to upgrade.
The Vokey Team as well as us here at Golf Leap encourage our readers to routinely check the wear on their wedge faces, and if you play or practice regularly, constant cleaning will be required to have your wedges perform their best.
What’s The Problem With Older Wedges?
Older wedge technology can be used with amazing results, but older and worn grooves are more of a hindrance to great golf performance than helpful.
Once a wedge’s grooves show signs of wear they impart much less spin on the ball. The ball can “ride up the face” due to less friction leading to inconsistent distance control, and even if great contact is made worn grooves won’t allow a ball to hit the green and stop close to where the initial green contact was made.
Can I Only Use a Sand Wedge For the Bunker?
No! Though it has the word sand in it, the sand wedge is probably one of the most used wedges outside the bunker! The higher loft of the sand wedge promotes better distance control and dart-like precision when pitching or chipping to the green. That’s why it’s probably one of the most important and versatile wedges to have in the bag, so definitely practice it!
That said, if you struggle with hitting good bunker shots, then the sand wedge is definitely a go-to option.
The Verdict – The 5 Best Sand Wedges On The Market
The best wedges the golf equipment market currently has to offer were designed for every type of player, course condition, and swing type imaginable.
If you’ve decided you’re tired of throwing away strokes with your wedges and have had a growing suspicion something else might be better for your short game, one of the options on our list will surely help.
That being said, if you’re still unsure which wedges might be the best for you and would like to talk to an expert further, our top choice of the Titleist Vokey SM9 wedges provides amazing personalized home-fitting tools and endless grind and bounce options for every type of player.
Since you’re already here, you might be interested in other short game improvement-based posts such as: