A golf bag without a sand wedge is like a pizza without pepperoni – it may function just fine, but it could be so much better. Beginning and causal golfers often find themselves in positions where they have to choose the clubs in their bags carefully to keep the cost of their game down, but cutting out important clubs like the sand wedge can result in a frustrating vacation in the sand. Watching out for cheap sand wedges, either good condition used or on sale new, is a great way to fill your bag with great clubs. While you’re digging through the web and your pro store’s discount racks, look out for these winners:
Cleveland CG14 Wedge
A 2009 Golf Digest Hot List Gold Award winner, the CG14 was introduced in 2007 and beloved by mid-level players everywhere. This wedge has deep face grooves to channel more sand away and a wide sole for extra forgiveness. These clubs can still be bought new, but check for them used for the best deals since they’ve been up-modeled several times.
Cleveland CG16 Wedge
Cleveland makes some of the best sand wedges for the money, especially when you’re dealing with the used market. The CG16 was Cleveland’s response to a change in the US Golf Association’s rules on groove design for wedges, which required less volume in grooves and reduced sharpness on groove edges for wedges with angles above 24 degrees (your typical sand wedge comes in around 54 degrees). The rule changes sent the folks at Cleveland back to the drawing board – they took their CG14 and increased the face texture while ensuring they were creating conforming grooves and lowered the center of gravity to help with those off-center strikes. The CG16 is roughly the same price as the CG15 – choose the CG16 if you don’t upgrade your sand wedge very often.
Cleveland 588 RTX Wedge
A 2013 Golf Digest Hot List Gold Award winner, the 588 is available in a number of finishes and in a cavity back (CB) model. With this innovative new wedge Cleveland expanded its groove size to improve spin and added milled circular patterns to improve the level and consistency at impact. They also increased the width of the sole near the heel and narrower at the toe. These wedges have received great reviews and with the multiple finish options and CB availability, any level golfer can find a 588 RTX to fit their game and style.
Callaway X-Series Jaws Wedge
Lest this page look like a love-fest for Cleveland wedges, we dug up the competitvely-priced Callaway X-Series Jaws wedge, a 2011 Golf Digest Hot List Gold Award winner. In response to the 2010 USGA groove rule change, Callaway added 40 percent more narrow and deep grooves to their wedge face, forging them as close to the USGA max as possible to create a head that will get the sand out of your way. The sole width is reduced to make it more playable in a range of rough conditions. These pop up on the used market at reasonable prices fairly often.
Titleist Vokey Spin Milled SM4 Wedge
This wedge was a 2012 and 2013 Golf Digest Hot List Gold Award winner, but most golfers either love it or hate it. The SM4 is the conforming version of the Vokey Spin Milled club, with smaller grooves and a machined face to increase ball friction and spin. The SM4 tends to pop shots slightly higher and make the ball run a little further than non-conforming models, but remains a popular and solid wedge. Plenty of these were made and traded-in, there should be a healthy used supply available.
You can save a lot by purchasing your sand wedge used, but do your research carefully. A conforming club will be good in your bag longer, especially if you aspire to serious play. All of the major brands offer great options with competitive price points, but Cleveland, Callaway, Titleist and TaylorMade are at the top fighting for wedges supremacy!