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A Closer Look at the Rise of the Sand Wedge
During the 1920’s and 30’s Gene Sarazen was already well on his way to achieving a lasting legacy in the sport of golf. His impeccable skills and character endeared him to the packed crowds and he fed from their enjoyment like all sportspeople do. But it wasn’t only how he played that has been widely acknowledged down the years, but also what he played with.
Sarazen won the Masters trophy in 1935 after unveiling to the world a golf club that he had designed for the sole purpose of tackling bunkers: the sand wedge.
The modern sand wedge as we know it today has been widely credited to Gene Sarazen. Designed to be used primarily when taking shots from sand bunkers, the sand wedge offers a far larger amount of “bounce” than any other model, meaning the leading edge of the club is lifted from the ground which prevents the club from getting stuck in surrounding sand or soft ground.
The purpose of a sand wedge is to ‘flick’ a golf ball from where it lies nestled in a sand bunker back into play. The clubs feature an angled loft that stands around 56 degrees. To help incorporate this loft, the back of the club is lower than the leading edge, meaning that the lower back hits the surrounding sand before the ball, effectively making the sand “explode” and launching the ball from the bunker (see image). It is this design that increases the level of bounce that the club provides.
In order for a sand wedge to utilise efficient force behind the ball during a sand shot, the wedge has to have substantial weight behind it. Due to this design, a sand wedge is considerably heavy – the heaviest golf club in the bag – weighing in at around 1.1kg.
So we can thank, among others, Gene Sarazen for the extra help tackling bunkers. Because, as we all know, sometimes it takes a legend to create something legendary.