Wedges are some of the most important clubs in your golf bag and modern golfers will now almost always carry a gap wedge. A gap wedge literally fills the “gap” between the pitching wedge and sand wedge. Typically they will have a loft between 50-54 degrees. They can sometimes be referred to as an attack wedge (AW) or utility wedge (UW).
Traditionally iron sets will include down to a pitching wedge. Therefore, the gap wedge is often the first specialist wedge. Versatility is key when searching for the perfect gap wedge, because it is used on full shots and around the green.
In this article we will review the best gap wedges currently available on the market and help you choose one that best suits your game.
Table of Contents
- 1. Callaway MD5 JAWS
- 2. Cleveland CBX2
- 3. Mizuno T20
- 4. Callaway Mack Daddy CB
- 5. Titleist Vokey SM8
- 6. Cleveland RTX ZipCore
- 7. TaylorMade Milled Grind 2
- Specialist gap wedge v iron-set gap wedge
- What gap wedge will suit my game better?
- Should all my wedges be the same?
- Terms to look out for when choosing a gap wedge
- Loft Gapping
1. Callaway MD5 JAWS
Spin Control: 100 | Forgiveness: 85 | Versatility: 95 | Style: 100
Best overall gap wedge
The Callaway Mack Daddy (MD) range is renowned amongst keen golfers for its aggressive grooves and sharp spinning qualities. The latest 2021 model, MD5 JAWS, retains these characteristics thanks to new JAWS grooves. The same groove-in-groove design has been used from the previous MD4, however the grooves have been sharpened for even more spin. Additional control around the greens has been made possible through new microfeatures on the face for better clubface to ball interaction.
Golfers looking for a complete wedge set, the MD5 JAWS have a natural head progression to ensure a smooth transition from your iron set through to your highest lofted wedge. The gap wedge has a compact profile that will be especially appealing to lower handicappers. Made from mild carbon steel, these wedges also feel as good as they perform. There are 23 loft and bounce combinations and five sole grind options, allowing you to find the perfect wedge set-up for your game. You can pick either Platinum Chrome or Tour Grey finishes.
2. Cleveland CBX2
Spin Control: 85 | Forgiveness: 95 | Versatility: 85 | Style: 85
Best for mid handicappers
Golfers that use cavity back irons can sometimes struggle with the transition to blade-style specialist wedges. Cleveland CBX2 wedges have a Hollow-Cavity design with a gelback insert that offers improved distance and forgiveness. This is particularly noticeable on fuller shots, with a larger sweet spot making it an excellent option for a gap wedge. A slightly thicker topline will also inspire confidence among golfers that find bladed wedges too intimidating.
Despite being a cavity back wedge, Cleveland’s fourth generation of Rotex Face with a triple groove ensures they still have good spin control. Tour Zip, laser milled and Rotex milled grooves all lay one on top of the other for maximizing spin. There are no sole grind and bounce options, with Cleveland using a Dynamic Sole designed to provide optimal performance for each loft. This removes the ability to personalize the wedge to your playing style, but higher handicappers may find this less confusing. Tour Satin or anti-glare Black Satin finishes are available to choose between.
3. Mizuno T20
Spin Control: 90 | Forgiveness: 90 | Versatility: 90 | Style: 90
Best for using a wet conditions
Mizuno have taken their forging expertise and applied it to their T20 wedges to produce a soft-feeling and consistent all-around performer. Grain Flow Forging and precision milled grooves ensure impressive and predictable spin control. New laser etched Hydroflow Micro Grooves are designed to release moisture, allowing for maximum clubface and golf ball interaction to generate good spin even in wet conditions.
The weight is placed higher in the face for improved stability with off-center strikes, which is especially helpful on longer shots common with a gap wedge. A teardrop profile design is attractive over the ball, although a slightly chunkier appearance compared with other bladed wedges won’t suit everyone. Wedge appearances also flow naturally through the lofts for a natural progression. Higher lofted wedges have a more rounded profile with wider and shallower grooves designed for versatility around the greens. A blue ION plated finish will certainly stand out on the golf course, otherwise you can choose Tour preferred Raw or ready to rust finishes.
4. Callaway Mack Daddy CB
Spin Control: 90 | Forgiveness: 100 | Versatility: 80 | Style: 80
Best for high handicappers
Similar to the Cleveland CBX2 wedge reviewed earlier, the Callaway Mack Daddy CB is perfect for golfers transitioning from game-improvement style irons. The appearance should immediately inspire confidence in even the most nervy wedge players, with a deep cavity, thick topline and larger clubface. The result is massively improved forgiveness versus a blade-style wedge. However, the Mack Daddy CB still benefits from the same Callaway JAWS grooves in the MD5 JAWS wedge. The result is that the CB model still retains impressive spin control.
Callaway have recognised their target market is higher handicaps than the MD5 JAWS, so have removed the bounce and sole grind options to avoid confusion in the available options. Lower lofted wedges come with a full sole, which is noticeably wider in appearance. This improves turf interaction, which will help golfers struggling with heavy contacts. The full sole does remove some of the versatility around the greens, but it is an added element of forgiveness higher handicappers will appreciate. Higher lofted wedges come with full face grooves and more bounce, which will help with tricky lies and slightly mishit strikes.
5. Titleist Vokey SM8
Spin Control: 100 | Forgiveness: 80 | Versatility: 100 | Style: 100
Best for low handicappers
Synonymous with the best wedges for a long time and regularly the most played wedges by professional players. The newest Vokey SM8 is another offering with excellent all around performance. New high density tungsten is designed to push the CG forward from the clubface, which improves stability through impact. This does give the SM8 wedges slightly more forgiveness than previous Vokeys, however they are still best suited to lower handicap golfers.
Contrary to the advancement of technology in so many areas, Vokey wedges retain their same Spin Milled grooves. These grooves offer phenomenal spin control and performance that has delivered results ever since Bob Vokey began making Titleist wedges. With six different sole grinds, over twenty different combinations of loft and bounce and four finishes, there is certainly no shortage of options to find your perfect wedge.
6. Cleveland RTX ZipCore
Spin Control: 95 | Forgiveness: 85 | Versatility: 100 | Style: 100
Best bladed wedge for forgiveness
Cleveland are known for their outstanding wedges and the RTX ZipCore is arguably their best yet. Compared with the CBX2 model also reviewed, the RTX ZipCore is a bladed wedge that will be more suited to more confident wedge players. Cleveland claim the new UltiZip grooves on these wedges are their sharpest and deepest ever, producing superb spin control from any lie. Each clubface has also been packed with two additional grooves for improved contact with the golf ball for more consistent spin.
Made from a new low-density material, ZipCore has a lightweight core. This has repositioned the CG so that more weight is directly behind the sweet spot, resulting in a more consistent all-around performance. You do not get the same bounce and loft combination as other options on this list, but there are three sole grind options with good variety as well as three different finishes.
7. TaylorMade Milled Grind 2
Spin Control: 100 | Forgiveness: 80 | Versatility: 100 | Style: 95
Best for maximising spin control
TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 is most notable for its new Raw Face technology. The face is designed to rust over time, which creates more friction for maximizing spin and precision. Another innovation is the Milled Grind sole, designed for better turf interaction and a more consistent performance.
Weight redistribution has allowed for an optimized CG placement for improved feel and control. Also, a TPU insert adds more stability through vibration dampening at impact. The Milled Grind 2 has a compact players-style head design and is definitely aimed towards elite and low handicap golfers. There are two sole grind options, standard bounce and low bounce, which allows some versatility with the bounce as well. You can personalise your look with TaylorMade’s MyMG2 programme, which is a nice extra option.
Specialist gap wedge v iron-set gap wedge
A specialist wedge is one that is made outside of a standard iron set. Traditionally an iron set would go down to a pitching wedge, so golfers often carry at least a couple of higher lofted specialist wedges. All of the wedges reviewed in this article are examples of specialist wedges.
Modern iron sets are now more commonly adding the option of a gap wedge as part of the iron set. So, if your irons have this option, how do you decide what is better?
There are noticeable differences in the appearance of specialist wedges, especially the bladed versions. However, the primary difference is typically in the groove design. Specialist wedges normally have their grooves machine cut into the clubface. This allows for a tighter, more precise and sharper groove for higher spin rates. Specialist wedges will almost always have CNC milled grooves as well as including additional features such as microgrooves for further increasing the spin.
On top of more spin, the major benefit of a specialist wedge is improved versatility when playing short shots around the green. Sole grinds, bounce and higher toe designs are all ways that specialist wedges improve turf interaction. This allows for greater manipulation of the clubface, which opens the possibility for a variety of different shots.
Another benefit of the specialist wedge is a reduction in ‘fliers’ that can be common with iron set wedges. Especially common when playing from the rough, this is where the golf ball comes off the clubface with higher ball speed than intended and travels too far. The improved ball to clubface interaction of a specialist wedge reduces these shots for better consistency.
All that said, there are positive characteristics of iron set wedges that may make some golfers consider choosing them instead. Set wedges typically have a deeper centre of gravity and improved perimeter weighting. The result is a higher launch angle, longer distances and more forgiveness.
What gap wedge will suit my game better?
This is a personal decision that will come from trying a few different options. Although, you can get a good idea by considering when you are most likely to use your gap wedge.
Golfers that are almost entirely playing full shots with their gap wedge should consider choosing an iron set wedge. You are unlikely to see the reward of using a specialist wedge, so should prioritise the forgiveness and distance of a set wedge. This will also allow you to maintain consistency through your irons further down your bag.
Alternatively, if you are a golfer that also likes to use their gap wedge for chips shots then the better grooves of a specialist wedge will be a massive positive. Improved versatility and spin will likely be worth the sacrifice of some distance and forgiveness.
You should also consider your handicap and how many different types of chip and pitch shots you play. Lower handicappers are more likely to choose a specialist wedge, because they are going to benefit from the added versatility by playing a great variety of shots.
Should all my wedges be the same?
Having a set of specialty wedges that are all the same brand and model will help create improved consistency in performance throughout your lofts. Wedges from different manufacturers can have several differences including design, spin, feel, distance and ball flight.
Golfers that want a steadier progression from cavity back irons might sometimes choose cavity back gap wedge, before progressing to a bladed sand wedge and lob wedge. There will still be a deviation in performance, but this is the sacrifice for improved forgiveness. Ideally golfers will still choose wedges within one manufacturer, because they are likely to have similar grooves and feel. For example, choosing a Mack Daddy CB gap wedge with an MD5 JAWS sand wedge.
Terms to look out for when choosing a gap wedge
There is possibly more golf jargon used when buying wedges than with any other golf club. Within this article there are two key terms mentioned regularly that golfers should understand when researching what wedge they want; bounce and sole grind.
Some wedge models will just come with a standard sole grind and bounce for optimized performance, however others will have much more personalizability. For example, Titleist Vokey SM8 and Callaway MD5 JAWS wedges both have over 20 different combinations of loft and bounce, with five or six sole grinds to pick from as well. It is important to know what options will suit your golf game the best.
Bounce refers to how far the leading edge sits off the ground when the club is grounded in a neutral position. Bounce will most typically range anywhere from 4 to 14 degrees.
Golfers that like to pick the ball off the surface with a sweeping motion are more suited to low bounce wedges. Low bounce will also help on shots when the ball is in a tight lie.
Wedges with a high bounce are better for softer lies and golfers that take larger divots with a steeper chipping motion.
As you can guess, mid bounce wedges will fall halfway between the two. Although a certain bounce might suit your game better, it is usually helpful to have at least two different options for varying lies and conditions.
The sole of each wedge will be designed in a slightly different way by removing or wearing away parts of the sole. The specific design of the sole is referred to as the ‘sole grind’.
By changing the shape of the sole, you can manipulate how the wedge interacts with the turf through impact. Different sole grinds will each have unique attributes that will suit certain shots and styles. Some will help reduce punishment on heavy strikes, whilst others will offer maximum versatility.
Loft gapping refers to the gap between each of the lofts of your wedges. Ideally golfers should not have more than six degrees difference between each of their wedges.
The development of technology in recent years has significantly strengthened the loft of some irons, especially player’s distance and game-improvement irons. Callaway Apex DCB irons for example, now have a pitching wedge with a loft of 43 degrees.
Having an iron set with strong lofts can create challenges with your loft gapping, so it is vital to know the loft of your pitching wedge. Once you have decided how many wedges you want, then you can pick your lofts. Golfers with a strong 43 or 44 degree pitching wedge will be best suited to a 50 degree gap wedge.
Before making a final decision it is important to consider the yardage differences of each of your clubs and their primary use. For example, if you are choosing a bladed gap wedge, but have cavity back irons, then you need to ensure you do not have too big a distance gap from your pitching wedge.
Choosing the perfect gap wedge can be a difficult decision. In this review we have taken a look at several of the best specialist wedges on the market at the moment.
Every specialist wedge has its own attributes, so you need to figure out what will benefit you the most. Plus, you must also decide whether an iron set gap wedge would be a more suitable option for your game.
There are now so many ways to now personalise your wedges that many leading manufacturers are offering specialist wedge fittings. If you are still not sure what to get after this review, then this could be a good option to ensure you get the best gap wedge for you.