Approach Wedge vs. Gap Wedge

You might have seen wedges around marked with an “A” for approach or heard golfers talk about using gap wedges and wondered what the difference is between the two? Is there a difference?

Approach wedges vs. Gap wedge- An approach wedge is another name for a gap wedge. Its loft is usually around 49- 53 degrees and is the golf club in- between a pitching wedge and sand wedge. 

Because there are many names for a gap wedge, it can be confusing and some may golfers stay away from adding it to there bag. However, there are a ton of benefits that they can give a golfer when trying to get the ball close to the hole.

What is an Approach Wedge/Gap Wedge

Gap wedge comparison
The gap wedge is in-between your pitching wedge and sand wedge when making full swings

A gap wedge/ approach wedge is a wedge designed to be in-between your pitching wedge and sand wedge. Here are some of the key takeaways you should know about these wedges:

  • Approach wedges are sometimes labeled with an “A” “U” “W” or “G” on the bottom of the club.
  • If they are not labeled, they will be between 49- 53 degrees of loft
  • Gap wedges are great for golfers who like to take full swings with clubs and who don’t prefer to take half swings or punch the golf ball towards the green.
  • Most golfers have either a 50 or 52-degree approach wedge in their bag. It all depends on how far a golfer hits their pitching wedge.
  • Standard wedge sets use the wedge lofts of, 52-56-60 degree wedges or 50-54-58 degree wedges

A gap/approach wedge is one of the best investments you can make for your golf game. It makes your approach shots to the green more accurate and improves distance control when trying to land close the hole. Think about it like this, would you rather swing at 80% power using a pitching wedge or use your normal swing using a gap wedge? For most golfers, it is much easier to swing using their natural swing rather than try to take off or add power to their shot. That’s where the gap wedge comes into play!

How Far Does a Gap Wedge/ Approach Wedge Go?

The average golfer will hit their approach/gap wedge 10-15 yards shorter than their pitching wedge and 10-15 yards further than their sand wedge. This means that if you hit your pitching wedge 130 yards, a well-struck gap wedge will go 115-120 yards.

Really, the key when using an approach wedge is to make sure that you are hitting it further than your sand wedge but shorter than your pitching wedge. You might run into some problems if your gap wedge is traveling as far as your pitching wedge! My best advice is to head out to a driving range that allows you to demo different clubs and compare a few gap wedges with your current golf set.

Choosing Your Gap Wedge Loft?

How do you determine what loft you need in your bag?

Here are some quick tips on how I chose my gap wedge loft:

  1. First, determine what degree loft your pitching wedge is. The easiest way to do this is just to google your iron specs and see what the loft is for your pitching wedge. (ex. type in google Taylormade Rocketballz irons specs)
  2. Next, add 4 degrees to the loft of your pitching wedge. This will give you a good idea of what degree gap wedge you need in your bag. For example, if your pitching wedge is 48 degrees, a 52-degree approach wedge might be best for your bag.

From here, your wedge set usually keeps increasing in increments of 4 degrees. So if you determined that you need a 52-degree gap wedge, you would then use a 56 – degree sand wedge and a 60- degree lob wedge.

Difference Between a Pitching Wedge and A Gap Wedge/ Approach Wedge?

A pitching wedge is between 44-49 degrees of loft depending on what type of iron set or wedge company you are using. They are usually labeled with a big P or sometimes W on the clubhead.

It is very common for a pitching wedge to be included in a standard iron set. An approach wedge is not usually included in a standard iron set but can be depending on the brand you are using. Many player improvement sets are now including an approach wedge to close out distance gaps for beginning golfers.  A standard iron set consists of:

  • 3 iron- Pitching wedge
  • 4 iron – Pitching wedge
  • 5- iron – Pitching wedge

As mentioned above, you can expect to hit a gap wedge about 10-15 yards shorter than a pitching wedge. After trying many different combinations, I have found it best to use a gap wedge that is 4 degrees weaker than the loft of your pitching wedge. For example, if you look up the club specs of your irons online and find that your pitching wedge is 46 degrees of loft, it will help to use a gap wedge that has 50 degrees of loft.

Choosing the Right Style Wedges for Your Game

Because the pitching wedge is usually included in the iron set, the style and feel of the pitching wedge may be very different than the rest of your wedges. For example, a golfer that plays with Taylormade Rocketballz irons (player improvement style) and Vokey Titleist wedges (blade style) might feel a significant difference in both weight and forgiveness of the clubface when going from their pitching wedge to their sand wedge.

Because the short game is all about feel, I highly recommend that you try to find wedges that resemble the style of your current set. To explain using the above example: The golfer that is using the Taylormade Rocketballz irons might feel more comfortable playing with Cleveland CBX wedges or something similar as they offer a similar weight and feel as other player improvement (cavity back) clubs. Here is a quick video showing the difference between blade style wedges and cavity back wedges 


In contrast, someone who is playing Callaway Apex Blade irons might feel better with those Titleist Vokey wedges as they have similar look at feel at address. It all depends on your playing style and what club is going to give you the best feel around the green to increase consistency.

Many golfers never think to change the style of the wedges to match their iron sets but doing so might improve confidence and consistency around the green!

Related Questions

What is the loft of a 9- Iron? – A 9 iron has around 45 degrees of loft, give or take a few degrees depending on the iron company a golfer is playing with

Can you chip with an Approach Wedge?-  Many golfers do elect to chip with an approach wedge when wanting to execute a low, running shot towards the flag.

How much Bounce does an Approach Wedge have? – A gap wedge has around 10-12 degrees of bounce

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