Do you carry a Gap Wedge or Attack Wedge in your bag? If you’re a younger golfer you have grown up with this club. But if you’re a senior golfer you never heard of this club until the middle of the 1990’s. Where did this club come from and it a necessary club to add to your set?
To answer these questions we need to look at the history of golf club loft and length. These specifications stayed pretty much the same during the 1960 and 1970’s. For example, a typical #7 iron had about 40 degrees of loft and was 36” long. In the same set the Wedge would have 52 degrees of loft and be 35” long. The sand wedge 56 degrees and 35” long.
In the 1980’s some manufactures, wanting to advertise longer distances for their clubs, delofted irons by a degree or two compared to competitors sets producing 2 to 5 extra yards. As a result, the #7 iron went from 40 degrees to 38 degrees and the wedge went from 52 degrees to 50 degrees. The sandwedge stayed at 56 degree.
This marketing ploy worked well for the manufactures as they advertised the longer distance with the introduction of new models, and the golfer didn’t realize the increase was due to decreasing the loft on the irons in the set. When new models were introduced in the 1990’s the irons were delofted again. The #7 iron now had a loft of 36 degrees, a length of 36.5” and the Wedge went to 48 degrees of loft with a half inch added to the length at 35.5” The sandwedge stayed at 56 degrees.
In the year 2000 lofts were decreased again with the #7 having a loft of 34 degrees and an inch added to the length at 37”. The Wedge was now 46 degrees while the Sand Wedge stayed at 56 degrees. (The Sand Wedge was not delofted because you need 56 degrees of loft on the Sand Wedge to extract the ball from the sand.)
At this point, most golfers were very aware of the gap of 10 degrees between the wedge and the Sand Wedge. The better players noticed this about 5 years earlier and added older wedges with 50 – 52 degrees of loft to their sets to bridge the gap. By changing the loft of all irons in the set and leaving the Sand Wedge alone, a gap was created between the wedge and the Sand Wedge. The Gap Wedge was developed to fill this void.
Manufactures have continued to gradually strengthen the lofts on their irons. To date there has been about 2 club change since Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player were playing in the 1970’s. A 2015 #9 iron has 40 degrees of loft and is 36 inches long. A #7 iron in the 1970’s had the same loft and length at 40 degrees and 36” in length. In 2015 #2 and #3 irons aren’t even offered in most sets. That’s because the lofts are so strong they are like the #1 iron Jack Nicklaus hit in the 70’s!
Do you play with a gap wedge?
Is delofting clubs good or bad for the game of golf?
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