Forrest Gump famously said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. I feel the exact same way when hitting my 60 degree wedge. I never know how far it will travel. I’ll flush one and then the next time I hit it, I’ll pop it up. This led me to ask, what is the correct 60 degree wedge distance for an amateur like myself?
The average male amateur golfer hits a 60 degree wedge approximately 73 yards. With that being said, the range could be anywhere from 50-90 yards depending on the amateurs skill level. There is no one size fits all answer to this question. It all comes down to the individuals swing speed and the quality of strike.
The 60 degree wedge can be a real Jekyll and Hyde club if not used in the correct manner. Keep reading to learn more about what may be causing your sporadic strikes with the 60 degree and if this wedge is actually the right club for you.
What Is A 60 Degree Wedge?
A 60 degree wedge is normally the highest lofted wedge in the bag. The main purpose of this club is to give the golfer the ability to hit high shots which land soft and don’t run out. The 60 degree wedge is also known as a “Lob” wedge, which is a fitting moniker. Imagine a tennis player hitting a lob over the other players head. Hitting certain shorter shots with a 60 degree are reminiscent of this act. This is my preferred method of use for the club.
As I mentioned earlier, the 60 degree wedge can also be used for longer shots, maxing out at around 90 yards for the more skilled player. I’m here to tell you hitting a 60 degree wedge 90 yards is one of the harder shots in golf. A golfer can have all the swing speed in the world but if center contact isn’t made, the ball won’t go anywhere near 90 yards. I have a golf buddy, who I’ve witnessed hit 300 yard drives, consistently only hit his 60 degree wedge about 50-60 yards in the air. It’s all about the strike. He never finds the sweet spot. Part of this can be attributed to the bounce on the club.
Per Vokey, “Bounce is the angle created between the leading edge and the lowest point of the sole or trailing edge. This is the area of the club that hits through the ground as it contacts the ball.” While bounce is our friend on chip shots, this is not the case on a full swing. When combined with the 60 degrees of loft on the club, bounce makes center contact on a full swing a tough task.
When To Use A 60 Degree Wedge?
The less you pull out the 60 degree wedge, the better in my opinion. I think a lot of us (myself included) reach for the 60 degree on 80-90 yard shots or chips that only require a simple bump and run because it’s what we see the professionals do. I’m sure I don’t have to say this but they are professionals for a reason. We’re talking about the best of the best. Hitting a 60 degree solid every time isn’t a problem for them. It’s a different story for us weekend golfers. Most of us simply don’t put in the practice time to reach the required skill level necessary to be a 60 degree wizard.
If you must pull out the 60 degree during the round, do it when the shot calls for it. If you have a pitch shot that requires a bunker clearance, by all means take out the 60 and flop it over. If you’re in the greenside bunker, this is a great time to use it. The extra loft comes in handy when trying to get out of a bunker.
There may be other occasions when the 60 is required but it’s rare. When chipping, 99% of instructors advice the quicker you can get the ball rolling on the green, the better. I’m in complete agreement with this sentiment. And using a sand wedge (56), gap wedge (52) or pitching wedge (48) are all better options to accomplish this task.
56 vs 60 Degree Wedge?
This will come as no surprise but the 56 degree wedge is my choice. The 56 degree is easier to hit, plain and simple. As discussed, I’ll use the 60 degree if I have a specialty shot that requires it’s service. For everything else, the 56 works just fine. Honestly, if you get good enough with the 56 degree, you can open the face a bit and use it similarly to the 60 degree. So we could actually get the 60 degree out of the bag completely. It’s much easier to acquire skill practicing all the time with one club (56) versus splitting the practice time up between two (56 & 60).
Any shot greater than 40 yards, do yourself a favor and go straight to your 56 degree or even a 52 degree if you have one. A good rule of thumb is if the 60 degree requires anything more than a half swing, leave it in the bag. It’s not worth the risk of chunking or thinning it. We’ve all done it. It’s time we wised up. You don’t have to take my word for it. Next time out at the range, practice those 40-50 yard shots with all of your wedges. If you’re a single digit or scratch handicap, the 60 degree likely won’t cause you any problems. But for us higher handicap players, the lower lofted 56 degree will surely provide the better results.
Is A 60 Degree Wedge Right For You?
Ultimately, it’s up for you to decide. I will say the 60 degree wedge is a relatively new creation. Tom Kite was the first tour player to use a 60 degree in 1981. So for the 200 or so years prior, golfers made do without it. Legends like Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan used a 56 degree and did OK for themselves.
If you can hit the 60 solid, by all means, keep it in the bag. The average male amateur golfer can hit the 60 degree wedge 73 yards. If you’re not coming close to that figure, due to poor contact, there is no shame is choking down on a 56 degree instead. Let’s keep the ego out of our golf game. Golf is more fun when we are not chunking 60 degree wedges. Just saying!
My hope is this article provided you insight, not only on the 60 degree wedge distance, but also guidance on when and if you should use a 60 degree wedge. PGA stars like Tiger and Rory have made it “cool” to use the 60 degree. Instead of looking cool, I’d rather get up and down for par and shoot good scores. Golf is hard enough as is. Let’s not make it any harder than it has to be. Good luck!