If you’re in a hurry and just want to find the Best Wedges for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2021, here’s what we recommend the:
It’s been said by Ben Hogan that the 3 most important clubs in your bag in order are the driver, putter, and wedge. Harvey Pennick, one of the great teachers, said the same thing but in a slightly different order; putter, driver, wedge.
Anyway you stick it, wedges are important part to helping you shoot lower scores and lower your handicap so that’s why selecting the best wedges for beginners and high handicappers is a critical decision.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following wedges:
- Cleveland CBX2
- Callaway Mack Daddy CB
- Ping Glide 3.0
- Cleveland Smart Sole 4
- Cobra Snakebite
- Wilson Staff Model
To see our other top clubs for beginners and high handicappers in 2021, check out this article: Best Golf Clubs for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2021!
But before we get started about what to look for in wedges, let’s get you some basic information about these clubs.
Beginners Guide To Wedges
Types of Shots
The wedges in your set are some of the most versatile clubs in your bag but they are generally used when you’re inside of 100 yards from the green and produce more spin than other clubs.
As a beginner, you’re probably not going to be hitting too many greens in regulation (on a par 5 this means getting on the green by your 3rd shot, on a par 4 getting on the green by your 2nd shot, and on a par 3 getting on the green directly from the tee box).
That being said, you’ll most likely being using your wedges for shots just off the green like blasting out of a sand trap, maybe a high pitch shot over a some deep rough, or just a regular chip shot that’s designed to have very little air time and start rolling on the green as soon as possible.
Whatever it may be, wedges are the most important clubs to help you shoot better scores by setting up short putts that will allow you to save par or at worst make a bogey.
Just like irons, wedges come in 1 of 2 head types; cavity backs or muscle backs (aka blades). Cavity backs are more forgiving, while muscle backs are less forgiving but allow for more control.
For beginners, we definitely lean towards cavity backs (even if it’s a small cavity) because even short shots like pitches or chips can be difficult to hit the sweet spot.
Now whether it’s a cavity back or muscle back, wedges are normally categorized by their loft as 1 of 4 types:
- Pitching Wedge – 46 to 50 degrees of loft
- Gap Wedge – 50 to 54 degrees of loft
- Sand Wedge – 54 to 58 degrees of loft
- Lob Wedge – 58 to 62 degrees of loft
So separate of the type of wedge (based on loft), the following are common specifications provided when selecting a wedge:
So this may sound a little nerdy and technical but bounce refers to when the sole of the golf club rests on the ground and creates the angle for how low or high the leading edge is off the ground. A club with a lot of bounce creates a high bounce angle that means the leading edge is more elevated from the ground. The reverse applies as well, a wedge with little bounce creates a low bounce angle that means the leading edge is less elevated from the ground.
What does this mean in English?! Check out the video below:
Selecting the correct bounce for your wedge is going to determined more by the conditions of the course you usually play. As a general rule, the firmer the turf conditions, the less bounce you should play and the softer the turf condition, the more bounce you should play.
Grind refers to the how the sole of the club is manipulated, or “grinded” to change how the club rests on the ground and therefore affect the bounce of the club. Bob Vokey provides a good explanation of how the grind affects the bounce.
In a nutshell, selecting a club with different grinds, can help you play a wider variety of shots without affecting the bounce of the club.
For beginners, this isn’t something you should be too concerned about since having a shot repertoire isn’t a big concern. At this point in your game you’re just trying to get the ball on the green with as few strokes as possible!
The main idea behind the different types of finishes is that each one supposedly provides a different type of feel. In our personal experience, the difference is subtle, if any at all. In our opinion, it’s more a function of how they look and which appeals to you more.
There are 3 primary types of finishes you’ll find on most wedges:
- Chrome – a very shiny look that can sometimes produce a good amount of glare
- Matte/Satin – a duller finish that can produce a softer feel than chrome
- Raw – an almost unfinished finish that will rust with time a provide more spin on shots
Similar to grind, this is something beginner golfers shouldn’t be too concerned about when it comes to performance. We suggest you find a finish that you like and makes you feel confident.
A key feature in being able to have accuracy and control with your wedges is the amount spin put into the ball. Knowing how your ball react (more or less backspin) when it hits the green is a critical element in getting the ball close to the hole.
One factor that contributes to the amount of spin are the grooves on the club face. Different manufactures utilize different technology to impart the ideal amount of spin. Some use more or less grooves on the club face while others utilize some sort of proprietary knowledge.
Whatever wedge you decide to use, you want to make sure the grooves on your clubface are always clean when making a shot.
Most wedges today come with steel shafts as the standard. As we mentioned in another one of our articles, steel shafts as a whole provide more accuracy than graphite and better overall feel.
Again wedges are primarily used within 100 yards so accuracy is a premium and we feel the steel generally makes the most sense because of their tighter shot dispersion.
For the older golfers who have trouble generating decent clubhead speed, graphite shafts might make more sense in your wedges.
How Many Should I Carry?
The R&A and USGA rules of golf (rule 4.1b) state that you’re only allowed to carry 14 clubs. The typical set makeup will at least look like this:
With this makeup in mind that leaves room for at least 4 more clubs and we think at least 3 of these should be additional wedges.
We strongly suggest you carry a gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge. With this composition you’ll have enough loft options between these clubs to avoid being in between club distances but you’ll also have a lot of options when you’re around the greens.
As we mentioned earlier, as high handicapper, you probably won’t be hitting too many greens in regulation, so it’ll be important to have a variety of options available to you in order to hit different types of golf shots. As opposed to making a different type of swing to hit a different type of shot, you can just swap out a pitching wedge for a lob wedge to get more height on your ball.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Wedges for Beginners and High Handicappers
We don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but high handicappers and beginners should be playing clubs that offer maximum forgiveness. The amount of skill needed to make solid contact, even on short shots, takes time to develop.
As you improve and reduce your handicap, you can start looking at the pure blade designed wedges but for beginners we’re going to suggest one’s that have more forgiveness built into them with some sort of cavity or perimeter weighting.
For beginners, versatility is going to be more of a factor of having a variety of loft wedges in your bag. As we mentioned above, to have plenty of options available to you without having to make different types of swings, it’s best to have at least 4 wedges in your bag (pitching, gap, sand, and lob).
Each of these wedges should have different types of bounces that can be used for multiple types of course conditions.
For instance, most sand wedges are designed with more bounce to be used specifically out of sand traps. This same bounce can be used to help you hit off of soft squishy turf as well.
Unlike other types of clubs, like drivers and irons where costs can vary several hundreds of dollars, you’re not going to see a huge discrepancy in wedge prices.
You should expect to spend at least a hundred dollars for a good wedge.
Best Wedges for Beginners and High Handicappers Reviewed
Sometimes a club is revolutionary because of innovation or a new design. The CBX2 is revolutionary in a different way. It is revolutionary because Cleveland, one of the leading wedge makers, noticed that players were flocking to game improvement irons and cavity back clubs but there were no good wedges available with that design.
Cleveland developed a cavity back wedge that bridged the gap between the traditional blade wedge and the cavity back clubs most people used. The CBX 2 improved on the original by adding some flexibility in shot making with 3 separate grinds for the sand, pitching, and gap wedges respectively. They play well off the turf because of the front-to-back “V” shape while the heel-to-toe “V” shape gives you great versatility in opening up the face. There are plenty of combinations of grinds, lofts, and lies and they are really easy to hit. The result is a cavity back wedge that plays like and has the flexibility of the traditional blade.
- The cavity back makes them both easier to hit and more familiar to most players.
- Available in lightweight steel or graphite shafts.
- A hollow chamber near the heel and a heavy weight in the toe maximized MOI and perimeter weighting for incredible forgiveness.
- Great grooves for more spin and better shot making.
- Lofts available from 46 to 60 in 2-degree increments.
- Great “full shot” wedge play.
- You get good spin out of the bunkers and rough.
- Not for better players, so as you improve other wedges may be in your future.
- It looks different than most of the wedges out there.
Callaway Mack Daddy CB
The most forgiving wedge that Callaway offers, and Callaway has a great stable of wedges out there. You get the cavity back design along with the forgiveness that comes with it, but they are still very aesthetically pleasing wedges.
The 4 holes drilled in the back look great, but they also save some weight that has been moved to the back bottom of the clubs for extra MOI, more forgiveness, and a high launch. You still get the JAWS groove system with precision edge sharpness on every groove for high end spin and control around the greens. When you combine the cavity back forgiveness with the blade look and the JAWS spin, you have a wedge that could work for anyone but is positioned perfectly for beginners and high handicappers.
- The forgiveness of cavity back irons in a wedge.
- You still get the JAWS groove system but with a more forgiving, cavity back club.
- Multiple grind/loft options for greater flexibility and personalization.
- The lofts go up at 2-degree intervals so that anyone can find the right combination of wedges to fill out your bag.
- 2 different shaft options for varying swing speeds and club weights.
- Really high quality, durable wedges.
- Glides through the turf and rough equally well making them great full shot wedges as well as good scoring wedges.
- They are very nice looking wedges on the turf and in your bag.
- Slightly bigger head shape that some golfers might not like.
- Not as much shot-making capability around the green as other Callaway wedges.
Ping Glide 3.0
The Ping Glide 3.0 is a solid wedge that looks like a players wedge and plays like a game improvement club. Most people know about Ping drivers and irons, but their wedges are actually as fun to hit and easy to use as the rest of their clubs.
Another cavity back wedge, the Glide 3.0 features the smaller head and thinner sole of a blade but with perimeter weighting and a cavity back that make it very forgiving and great for full shot wedge play. The deep, sharp grooves give you really good spin around the greens so that beginners can grow into these wedges and not have to change them as they improve. The Glide 3.0 is also a good full shot wedge with good perimeter weighting and a lot of forgiveness. You actually get a slightly lower trajectory for added control and distance than most similar wedges.
- It maintains the classic tear-drop shape while adding club head size and a larger sweet spot to the club.
- Great from tight lies, easy to hit for full shots, and a lot of spin and feel around the green.
- The 3.0 has a higher MOI head for more stability and a little firmer feel.
- The Glide 3.0 is lighter and easier to hit than previous models.
- An elastomer insert that will deliver a soft impact experience for better feel on full shots and chips.
- It has the blade design and flexibility with the forgiveness of a cavity back club.
- Very consistent distance and ball flight.
- A slight offset design keeps the club head straight and true through impact.
- Not as much bounce or spin as some of the other wedges on this list.
- You do not get as high of a launch or trajectory as other wedges which is good for some golfers, but many beginners need that extra launch height.
Cleveland Smart Sole 4
Though the CBX2 gets the top spot on this list, Cleveland has another “supreme game improvement” wedge in the Smart Sole 4. It’s lack of flexibility and focus on the highest of handicappers keeps these wedges a little further down the list, but if you have never hit a wedge before or are really struggling with your short game, the Smart Sole 4s might just be your answer.
The Smart Sole was initially created to make bunker play easier. We have all, at one point in time or another, had the “5 swing bunker hole” where every stroke seemed to dig the ball deeper into the sand. With the Smart Sole SW, your club glides through the sand and the ball lands softly on the green. They have since added a GW for those approach shots whether you are taking a full swing or pitching it onto the green. You can also find a “chipper” so that your bump-and-run shots feel and act like your putter. The goal was ease, and the results for beginners and high handicappers are great.
- They may not be the most attractive wedges at setup, but the extra wide sole makes your short game a whole lot easier.
- The huge 3-tiered sole interacts with the turf really well ensuring good contact with the ball.
- The chipper makes chipping fun and easy.
- The GW is perfect for full wedge approach shots and for pitching the ball up to the hole.
- The SW has so much bounce and forgiveness, even first time golfers might see their ball run up onto the green from a bunker.
- If you need the game to be easier while you are learning, look no further for a set of wedges.
- As much forgiveness as you will find on any other club out there.
- Only 3 different lofts/clubs to choose from.
- They are very specifically aimed at high handicappers and you do not get the feel and spin that other wedges give you around the green.
These wedges are named after the way that the new “Snakebite groove system” bites into the ball’s cover for more backspin around the green. This new groove system is designed with sharper angles and deeper curves so that you really get a lot of backspin and control on your shots.
The truth is, Cobra has never really been known for their wedges, and even their most well-known ambassadors, Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler, do not use Cobra wedges. These wedges are a step in the right direction, and especially for beginners, high handicappers, and even mid handicappers looking for some extra forgiveness around the greens. They are cavity back wedges with perimeter weighting and a high MOI for great stability and forgiveness. The groove system is great for extra spin and the full-face grooves give you a little more confidence and hold onto the ball a little longer out of the rough or hazard. They have a modern/contemporary look though the head is a little large and the sole is almost oversized. This is great for gliding through bunkers and rough, but not as good for feel and shot making around the green. They are better greenside clubs than approach wedges as well.
- They look great.
- They perform better than most of Cobra’s previous wedge offerings.
- Full face grooves give you great backspin across the entire face of the club.
- Versatile wedges with 7 loft options and 3 grind combinations.
- They are single length wedges, and this is something that many players are starting to gravitate towards.
- Very forgiving, cavity back wedges that are a good transition from cavity back, game improvement irons.
- You get good forgiveness in the design and good spin because of the new Snakebite groove system.
- The sole is a little clunky for some golfers.
- You do not get the same feel around the greens as you do with some of the other wedges on this list.
Wilson Staff Model
Wilson may not be the first name you think of when it comes to wedges, but the truth is that they have been producing high quality scoring clubs for a while now. The carbon steel head and high density grooves on the face of the Staff Model make this one of the softest feeling clubs on the market.
We were surprised at the level of feel and the amount of backspin that this wedge could produce. The higher density groove pattern means that the ball interacts with additional grooves each stroke giving you more backspin and additional control. The grooves are precision-milled for a consistent shape and spin on each shot. You have a higher toe for increased hitting area on open face shots and increased forgiveness on full or half swings. They are very easy to hit and very versatile in the number of options provided. They feature machine-engraved score lines in the precision-milled face that have a higher density pattern so that you get more consistent and more solid contact with the ball. All of these features and looks for a comparatively low price.
- The clubs look like players wedges and play like game improvement clubs.
- Really high performing wedges that are rated high by good golfers and beginners alike.
- They can be found at a great price for the features offered.
- Looks great at setup and feels like a high end wedge in your hands.
- Very accurate with consistent distance on every shot.
- The soft forged carbon steel gives you some of the best feel on the market.
- A really good full shot club, but the higher-density groove pattern makes it an even better option for mid-range shots and chips.
- Not as customizable in terms of loft/grind options as many others on the list.
- Does not generate as much backspin as some of the higher rated clubs.
- While there are some forgiveness features, some of the other irons on this list are more forgiving.
Final Thoughts on The Best Wedges for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2021
Best Overall: Cleveland CBX2
The Callaway Mack Daddy CB wedges came close to the no. 1 spot, but they did not quite have enough to overtake the CBX2. Cleveland has a knack for making top notch wedges, and this one is our favorite on the market for beginners right now.
They are so forgiving, but you still get good feel and good spin around the green. The only downside is that they do not have the “blade look” that some beginners and higher handicappers may prefer, but they are so easy to hit that the aesthetics can be overlooked.
Most Affordable: Cleveland Smart Sole 4
Cleveland ends up the recipient of both of our concluding categories. The Smart Sole 4 has some limitations, but for the price for the forgiveness they offer, these are some good wedges for beginners and high handicappers.