A lot of golfers are confused by the term "bounce," as it refers to the golf club.
The bounce of the club
It's important to understand the bounce on your wedges and what it does. Bounce angle can vary dramatically from club to club, so you need to make sure your wedges are suited to the course you play at most frequently.
We'll start by defining what the bounce is, then we'll look at what it does.
If you pick up a club and hold it vertically, you'll see that the trailing edge of the club sits lower than the leading edge.
This difference - this angle - is referred to as the bounce angle, and it represents how much bounce a given club has.
What Does it Do?
As the club strikes the turf, the angle between the leading and trailing edge is designed to help keep it from digging into the ground.
A very sharp leading edge will dig more. With a very steep angle of attack, the sharp leading edge on a club with no bounce - or negative bounce - will want to dig into the turf. On the other hand, a club with a lot of bounce angle will literally bounce through the turf more, hence the term.
This is important in two places:
- Bunker play
- Short little shots around the green
Is the leading edge too high up for a hardpan lie?
If you have a lot of bounce on your wedge, then when the shaft is fairly vertical the leading edge will sit up off the ground.
Say you play mostly on very tightly mown areas or very firm fairways or grass that's really hardpan.
If you don't get a lot of shaft lean at impact, a club with a lot of bounce will encourage you to come into the ball with that leading edge. You'll skull it on a hardpan lie because the club head will literally bounce off the turf.
It will skip into the ball and you'll end up blading it across the green. If you play on a lot of hardpan lies, look for wedges that have very little bounce.
Match the Bounce to Your Course Conditions
The kind of sand in the bunkers makes a tremendous difference when it comes to choosing a wedge.
A lot of bounce helps keep the club from digging through powdery sand
If you have very fluffy sand around your greens, you want a club with a lot of bounce, ideally 12-14°, to help keep the club from digging through that sugary, powdery sand as it comes through.
If you play from sand that's very firm and compact with rocks and gravel in it, you want much less bounce because the more bounce you have, the more the club will want to skip through the ground and not take such a deep divot.
It's an important difference. Your wedge setup will vary based on the course you're playing. You need to understand the structure of the wedge and how much bounce it has.
If you play hardpan lies and firm bunkers with compacted sand, you want a club with much less bounce.
If you play on very fluffy sand and Bermuda grass or very soft lies in the fairway or the rough, a club with more bounce will help you get through the ground better without digging.
Improve Your Short Game
Getting the right bounce is especially important when it comes to the little chip shots and flop shots.
If you have a club with a lot of bounce and a standard grind and you open the club face up a lot, the leading edge is going to sit way up off the ground because of the width of the sole.
The club sits flatter if the trailing edge is ground down
It helps to understand how much bounce you have when you open the club face up, because if you have a lot it can set the leading edge very high up off the ground, which will affect your flop shots and your little touchy, creative shots around the green.
On some wedges, the trailing edge is ground down at an angle to minimize this effect and allow the club to sit flatter to the ground when the club face is open.
On some wedges, the heel is ground down a lot more, for the same reason. Typically only the heel is really sitting on the ground when you open the club face up.
You can have your wedges custom ground if you tend to play from very tight lies in the fairway where you have to open up the face and hit a lot of tough shots.
The bounce angle on your wedges is much more severe than on your irons. Irons typically only have 2-4° of bounce, while wedges have anywhere from 6 to as much as 14° of bounce. It makes a tremendous difference on all your shots.
Check Your Gear
Check your wedges. You can have a professional measure the bounce angle, or simply go to the manufacturer's website and see what the specs are for your particular club.
The bounce affects how much the club digs into the ground
Then take a look at your course conditions. Are you playing with the right club?
You need to have a set of wedges that's appropriate to the golf course where you usually play. It makes a tremendous amount of difference.
You'll notice that as the Tour pros play from course to course, they'll typically put in another wedge if they're going to be playing on a course with very fluffy sand.
If they're playing really tight, British Open type golf courses, they'll use wedges with much less bounce and a custom-ground heel to make it easier to open up the club face and keep that leading edge away from the ball. The last thing they want to do is blade one across the green.
Check out your equipment; it's an important piece to improving your scores!