The story goes that golf was not invented by the Scots but by sheep. As tender as it may sound, we can say that this is true.
In particular, it is said that the sheeps created the first bunkers, especially those deep and round, so characteristic of British golf links. With their hooves, over time, they dug their shelters to protect them from the cold and wind. They did so by following their instincts, not knowing that those spaces shaped a golf course.
If it's about stories, then it's worth wondering who invented the sand wedge. Gene Sarazen began using it in 1932 to better get the ball out of sand traps and tall grass. He is one of five players (along with Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods) to win each of the four majors tournaments at least once. And he was the inventor, although specific prototypes already existed four years before. Over time, and as manufacturers innovated more with club design, the market became populated with new types of wedges and sand wedges.
What Are the Characteristics of the Sand Wedge?
We already know what it owes its name because it is used to make hits from the bunker. Simply put, this is an iron with a clubface loft of around 54° to 56°. Also, this club has a shorter shaft than the longer irons, ranging from 33 to 37 inches.
A sand wedge has a wider bottom, and due to its shape, it allows more rebound than other irons. This characteristic, added to a greater loft, means that the club does not bury itself in the ground when making a stroke. Without a doubt, it is essential in situations where you want to slide the club under the ball, hit high shots, and get the ball to stop quickly on the green.
Mickelson: One of the Best Players with a Sand Wedge in Hand
There are many golfers on the PGA Tour and the European Tour who excel using a sand wedge. In our opinion, there is one player today who stands out above the rest.
Without a doubt, he is Phil Mickelson. The Californian created much of his reputation as a star thanks to his enormous ability to hit his sand wedges. We could even say that he invents a new shot every time he needs it. Especially when it comes to making a flop: nobody does it like him.
Winner of six major tournaments (3 Masters Tournaments, 2 PGA Championship, and 1 Open Championship), Mickelson dominates with a unique technique with his sand wedges, which undoubtedly elevated him to another category in the golf world.
When do you Need to Make a Shot with Your Sand Wedge?
For now, you have to know that making a full swing with your sand wedge requires a similar swing as with any other iron in the bag. Of course, you will indeed find yourself facing various situations that could be one of the following: when the ball is in a bunker, when it is in the rough, when it is in a muddy lay, and when it is on the fairway, but it is needed a high shot to stop quickly on the green.
The Technique From the Sand
It is practically inevitable to play a round of golf without falling into a bunker. If this happens, it is good to have some considerations when hitting the ball. If the ball is in a good position in a bunker near the green, the idea is to take a shot like this: you have to hit the ball a couple of inches behind and let the bounce of the club slide through the swing and below the ball. It is essential not to take your eyes off the ball in these shot types.
How to Hit the Ball From the Rough with the Sand Wedge
If your ball is in the rough and very close to the green, the first thing you have to study is the ball's position. If it is not good, the thing to avoid is to dive the club into the soil. If you don't, you run the risk of disrupting your swing and hitting the ball in the wrong way. The important thing is to spread your legs wide, make a complete and comprehensive swing through the ball without ever stopping your movement. Also, it is vital to fully rotate your body from the beginning to the end of the swing.
How to do it From the Fairway
If you are very close to the green, a good option is to use the sand wedge from the fairway. Again, it's about swinging like with any other iron. It will be necessary to take into account the attack on the ball. It is suggested to put the ball further back on the stand. This will allow your hands to be in front of the clubhead, facilitating the stroke you want to make, achieving better contact.
How to Choose the Right Sand Wedges
There are many sand wedge models on the market, with some brands being the most recognised. In our opinion, Cleveland and Titleist lead the market with the best alternatives.
If you are starting to play golf, we suggest you do not worry too much about technical issues and try to buy sand wedges that are easy to use. Often beginners make the mistake of choosing very sophisticated clubs, which ends up being counterproductive for their game.
Effectively hitting shots with the sand wedge requires a lot of technique and hours of practise on the driving range. In the meantime, check with your golf instructor and also get information from specialist magazines and websites. That will be the best way to make the right decision. Only then will you reduce the strokes on your card and feel more confident with your game.