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The 60 degree wedge--when does it belong in a junior's bag?


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A local pro (with a sterling reputation in this area among junior parents) told me during the (age 6 and 8) kids' lessons that he was not a fan of the 60 degree wedges in their bags. I've honored his wishes by not having the kids hit with them since he's been instructing them, but I do wonder--what exactly is the downside? They were hitting them well, and the oldest especially has picked up a nice touch for it.

As a relative neophyte to junior golf, I'm interested in some perspective on this. Is the lob wedge considered to be an unnecessary crutch until a certain age?

I respect this pro and his wishes, but in three weeks we'll be back in our hometown and the kids will be in front of a couple other pros. Should I expect them to have similar stances on the lob wedge?

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Son was playing a tournament a month or so ago and had a long chip across an uphill green. He grabs his 58 walks to the ball, looks at what's ahead of him, kind of stares at the sky and walks back to his bag to grab another club. Chips it up to a foot, shows me that it was his gap wedge and says, "M.o.n.k.e.y. learns." I just about died from laughter.

edit: why is the common name for a simian censored?

 

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There's definitely something more important that I should be doing.
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That's going to depend on coach to coach. My kids coach has been trying to get me to allow her to use a 60 more. We have one we practice with one but its off limits in tournaments. There is a lot of people who want kids to learn to be creative, open a 56, take less swing hit different types of shots before handing a super young kid a 60. If you think you're kid is doing well with one talk to his/her coach about it and even show him some of the shots.

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The common reason people say this is because kids will tend to lean on it pretty heavily without exploring different shot options which, in theory, will limit their creativity around the greens.

There's definitely something more important that I should be doing.
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I think it even depends on where you play. I would say 1 wedge is good enough but in some cases maybe there is a ton of sand bunkers and having a 60 makes sense or makes it easier for them.

It’s a tough choice and really just up to the parent.

 

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I don’t have super strong feelings about the 60* wedge, but I was caught off-guard by how strong his feelings were about the matter.

Last lesson was about 35’ chips, so I get it. But this time we’re out on the course with the kids and glanced inside their bag.

”I was going to remark at why your sets came with lob wedges, but then I remember you bought them separately.” LOL

As someone who limits their use of the 60* wedge, when do you think you will let your daughter use it in tournaments? Is it a matter of wanting to see more creativity out of her?

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More consistently out of it, and her gain confidence with it. She been working recently with all wedges vs just one so since we just had her opening tournament probably time to let her live and learn with it.

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We live about 80 miles north of West Palm Beach, but spend a few months per year in Tallahassee... so two very different types of course layouts. Both layouts have plenty in the way of bunkers in their green complexes.

 

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My son carries a 58 degree and he is very careful about when to use it. We did not introduce it to him until he had been playing for two years. It is not about an age or time to introduce a club to a kid, it is about teaching the kid responsibility to know when to use a club and when not to.

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Why limit it at 60* wedges?

Now that I think about it, why even have wedges?

Kids should be more adept at hitting severely open faced 9-irons out of shortsided bunkers.

If they can hit a 60* wedge properly, let them.

Should they only rely on a 60* around the greens, and from all lies/chips? No.

 

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I've heard this more than once and I think it's absolutely idiotic. Why not learn while young how to use one of the most valuable tools of the trade? Nearly every Tour pro carries and uses a 60 degree (or more loft).

Should you use it in every situation; absolutely not. Just because you learn how to use a 60+ degree wedge doesnt mean you shouldn't also learn how to bump and run a 9 or even 7 iron when required. It's all part of the game.

There are way many courses (at least in the US) where it behooves you to carry the ball to the surface of the green because of thick bluegrass or Bermuda rough, and/or grainy and inconsistent fringes. In these cases, using a 60 is the prudent play.

Personally I'd go a step further and recommend learning to open up that 60 (to use the bounce) and figure out how to hit all types of trajectories and spins. No pun intended, but everything else is child's play beyond that...

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[b]WITB[/b]:
Ping G410 LST 9 degree - Tour AD IZ 6x
Ping G410 LST - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Kasco K2K 33 - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Callaway RazrX Tour 4h - Tour 95 shaft
Ping i200 5-UW (2 flat) - Nippon Modus 105X
Taylormade HiToe 54 (bent to 55 & 2 flat)
Taylormade HiToe 64 (Bent to 62 & 2 flat)
Palmer AP30R putter (circa 1960s)
Taylormade TP5X Ball

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Yesterday

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Ping G400 Max 10.5* Fubuki K 60x

Ping G400 5w 16.5* Blueboard 73x
Callaway GBB 19* Aldila NVS 85x
Apex '16 4h 23* Fubuki ax400h 82x

Apex ‘16 5h 27* Mitsu KuroKage 90s

Ping s55 6 - PW Fujikura MCI 100s

Ping Glide 49*, 54* & 59* wrx Recoil 110s
Piretti Matera Elite
 

 

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Thanks for giving more perspective on this.

I considered pulling their 60* wedges from their bags last week, but decided against it because not only is there a time and place for this club, but both kids handle the club as well as any in their bag.

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For some reason there's a strange sort of "old-school" contempt toward the lob wedge. My daughter's college coach discourages use of the 60 and would prefer his players not carry one. I think it's entirely foolish. I've watched his players botch easy shots because they're afraid he's going to ridicule them for using the 60, even when it's clearly the best option for a particular shot.

It's a very versatile and valuable club, and in my view a player is significantly disadvantaged by NOT learning to become proficient with one. Like anything else, learning at a (relatively) younger age is an advantage.

USGA Index: ~0

[b]WITB[/b]:
Ping G410 LST 9 degree - Tour AD IZ 6x
Ping G410 LST - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Kasco K2K 33 - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Callaway RazrX Tour 4h - Tour 95 shaft
Ping i200 5-UW (2 flat) - Nippon Modus 105X
Taylormade HiToe 54 (bent to 55 & 2 flat)
Taylormade HiToe 64 (Bent to 62 & 2 flat)
Palmer AP30R putter (circa 1960s)
Taylormade TP5X Ball

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I think anything that can help a player in competition is useful, including a 60* wedge.

But I also understand the long-term development concern though: a junior who relies on a lob wedge may not develop the same shot-making ability and creativity that a player who doesn't rely on it has.

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I think I would've been better off had I begun golf with a 60°+ lob wedge. Then, it would've been just another club. But, I didn't get one until after I had been playing for about five years. When I got my first 60°, I hit it well enough to get totally carried away with it (much like a troubled youth tasting beer for the first time). I used it everywhere I could, even trying to hole it from the fringe. I'd likely be better off if I didn't carry one, at all (I'm much better with the 54-56° wedges).

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I don't see the long-term development concern. Why would creativity and shot making development be curtailed?

In fact, I believe a 60 can encourage creativity and shotmaking. Soft lob & release, low driving spinners, a hinge & toe drop to pop it out of rough, high flops, etc....learn to open it up to varying degrees and you have nearly endless options in terms of shotmaking.

There are plenty of short game shots where depending on the player's skill level, using a lower lofted club is the better and higher percentage play. A player of any age just needs to be taught this, though some figure it out on their own

USGA Index: ~0

[b]WITB[/b]:
Ping G410 LST 9 degree - Tour AD IZ 6x
Ping G410 LST - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Kasco K2K 33 - Fujikura Pro TourSpec 73 
Callaway RazrX Tour 4h - Tour 95 shaft
Ping i200 5-UW (2 flat) - Nippon Modus 105X
Taylormade HiToe 54 (bent to 55 & 2 flat)
Taylormade HiToe 64 (Bent to 62 & 2 flat)
Palmer AP30R putter (circa 1960s)
Taylormade TP5X Ball

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I'm in agreement with you, however shotmaking ability applies to a 60* wedge as well. Say the kid hs 35 yards to clear a bunker with the pin frontside at 40 yards, and on a downsloping front to back green.

Sure, you could pull a 56* open it up and hit it high, but, if the kid can comfortably hit a 60* properly, why rely on the open faced 56* flopper? Why not make it easier for them to hit a straight faced 60* with either a 3/4 or full swing?

The game is no different for them as it is for us. Same game, usually the same strategies, based on skil levels. There's no magic or creativity in hitting with a bump and run 8 iron. It is what it is, and many times it's the right shot to hit.

The bottom line is why limit the player if they can handle the club properly, and in the right situations?

Back to the OP's situation, why limit the kid based on what some old school instructor thinks his way is the only and best way. In my opinion, that particular instructor is wrong.

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I think anti-lob wedge crowd typically cite this factoid about Seve and development:

"Perversely, the technical evolution of the game over the last two decades only limited the creative shot-making artistry epitomized by Ballesteros. Big-headed drivers, square grooves and 60-degree wedges all gave the less gifted an undeserved opportunity to play shots like Seve." Seve Ballesteros: Singular Genius - Golf Digest

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I agree with you about not limiting the player and giving them everything they need to succeed in situations.

The question I have is, would not letting a young player use a lob wedge until he is a teenager help him hit the lob wedge better when he does eventually put it in the bag?

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