Granted, lofting short, high, soft pitches over bunkers or to narrow landing spots is the lob wedge’s raison d’etre. It’s practically a necessity if you play courses with fast, firm greens where you face a variety of short game challenges.
But if you limit use of the lob wedge (aka “L” wedge) to a 10-yard circle around the green, you may be, ahem, short-siding yourself. Depending on your swing speed and skill level, it can be a deadly weapon from as far out as 80-90 yards.
To get maximum utility from your L wedge, first determine exactly how far you can hit it with a normal stance and smooth, full swing. This may be 50, 60 or 75 yards, though some golfers can squeeze nearly 100 yards from theirs.
Let’s say you come up with 70 yards as your max. Playing a full shot from this distance with your L wedge is a whole lot easier than backing off on a sand wedge or gap wedge and trying to gauge it just right. Likewise, a pitch from 50-60 yards becomes simpler with an L wedge in hand. Just grip down an inch or two and make a normal swing. The ball will fly a little lower than usual and hit the green with plenty of spin.
If you carry a sand wedge with lots of bounce (at least 10°), the lob wedge can be a great alternative when conditions are firm. This is true in fairways and bunkers, where the bounce on your sand wedge can cause the club to literally bounce off a hard surface and blade the ball. The typical L wedge features 5-8° of bounce and will slide more easily between ball and turf, or into hard, wet sand.
Maybe you’ve decided against getting a lob wedge because you felt it had limited use. Or maybe you carry one, but only pull it in obvious situations.
Give it a chance and you’ll discover how versatile – and valuable – this club can be.