When it comes to the wedges in a golfer’s bag, there are plenty of letter abbreviations. Whether it is a PW, SW, LW, GW, or AW, some players may find it confusing figuring out which ones are necessary. In this article, we outline the AW or approach wedge and explain its uses.
What Is An Aw In Golf?
The AW golf wedge is the approach wedge. It is the wedge that bridges the gap between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge. It’s also called a ‘gap wedge‘.
It contains a loft angle that fits right in between the other two conventional wedges.
A pitching wedge will usually have a loft between 44 and 48 degrees, while a sand wedge sits between 54 and 58 degrees. Approach wedges comparatively, typically lie between 48 and 54 degrees.
What Is An AW Wedge?
The AW wedge has two names. The most common name given to the AW wedge is an approach wedge, but it can also be referred to as an attack wedge.
The perfect time to use an AW golf iron is when you’re too close to hit a full pitching wedge, but you still want the attack and spin that a pitching wedge could provide.
Having an AW wedge in your bag can give you that perfect loft necessary for those mid-range approach shots.
AW Golf Club Loft
Loft angles in clubs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, the loft of an AW wedge usually sits between 48 and 54 degrees. Most, however, will sit close to 50 degrees.
The loft of the AW wedge is designed to give you an additional option when a pitching wedge, sand wedge, or lob wedge may not be appropriate.
From one golf brand to another, the loft of the AW wedge will vary. Generally, if one company produces pitching and sand wedges with lower loft angles, then the approach wedge will also have a lower angle to supplement the gap.
Conversely, the higher the loft angles of the PW and SW, likely the higher the loft angle of the AW.
There is no “standard” for AW wedges, but the angle will fit in line with the other clubs from a specific brand’s product line.
AW Golf Club Distance
The distance of your AW wedge will depend on your swing speed and relative shot distance. However, most AW wedges are used between the 50 and 85-yard marker.
It is perfect for the times when hitting a pitching wedge may send your ball a little further than you want, but a sand wedge may leave you a little short.
AW Bounce Explained
The bounce angle of a wedge is critical for hitting shots accurately. The bounce angle is the curvy part on the sole/bottom of your wedge face which impacts how much of the club impacts the ground on your shots.
For balls in sand or deep rough, you would use high bounce angle clubs like a sand wedge as their bounce angle will stop you digging into the sand too much.
AW wedges usually fit into the “low bounce” category.
With a low bounce angle, hitting shots on regular fairway turf, tight lies in the rough, and wet sand becomes much easier. Low bounce wedges can create a lot of spin on the ball and attack at impact with a good deal of assertiveness and aggression.
Compare the low bounce angle to a higher bounce on a sand wedge, and you’ll find stark differences in the feel and performance of each.
A sand wedge may not be best for a 50-yard approach shot on the fairway, even though the distance of a sand wedge may be perfect
The higher bounce angle is not perfectly designed to dig into the turf and attack the ball the way a lower bounce angle would.
Using an AW club in this instance can provide the appropriate trajectory and spin necessary to stop the ball right where you want it.
When To Use The AW Golf Club (Approach Wedge)
The best time to use the AW golf wedge is when you’re approaching from 50 to 85 yards from the green. Ideally, you’ll be on the fairway, but we all know that isn’t always the case.
Due to the loft and bounce angle of the approach wedge, it can help you out of a tricky situation in the rough as well.
It gives you the ability to come down aggressively on the ball with a lot of attack, creating a good amount of spin and height.
It may not be the wedge that pops the ball up the quickest (lob wedge), but for relatively straightforward shots into the green, it can provide the trajectory and spin you’ll need to stop the ball quickly.
AW Vs. PW Vs. LW Vs. SW
There are some distinctions between the four most common types of wedges. Here is a breakdown of which wedge is right for various circumstances.
AW is best for approach shots between 50 and 85 yards from the fairway or rough and usually has an angle around 50 degrees.
PW is your long approach pitching wedge, good for shots between 100-130 yards out. They usually sit at 44 to 48 degrees in loft angle.
An LW or lob wedge is your highest loft angle club. Most LW’s will have an angle sitting around the 60-degree mark. They are most useful in situations where you need to pop the ball up and stop it quickly on the green—best for tricky shots close to the dance floor.
The SW or sand wedge is your best friend in a greenside sand trap. It is designed to cut through the sand with the correct bounce angle and come out the other side without too much drag.
It will usually have an angle between 54 and 58 degrees, allowing you to pop the ball up and stop it quickly as well.
If you have any experience or insights from your own game using an approach wedge, please leave your queries in the comment section below.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.