A-Wedge: A Golf Club of Many Names

Cleveland Golf A-wedge in Tour Raw finish
Only the sand wedge and lob wedge have more loft among golf clubs than the A-wedge. Cleveland Golf

The A-wedge is a golf club that is another name for a gap wedge, which is used for shorter and softer shots, and one of the four main types of wedges, which include (from least loft to most loft) the pitching wedge, A-wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge. A golf club manufacturer might identify an A-wedge by stamping an "A" or "AW" on the sole near the toe of the club, but it's becoming more common all the time to stamp the wedge's degrees of loft there.

The "a" in A-wedge stands for either "approach" or (less commonly) "attack," and you might see a manufacturer use one of those names (approach wedge or attack wedge) instead of A-wedge. As already noted, A-wedge itself is just another name for the gap wedge, a club known by more different names than any other modern club in golf: gap wedge, a-wedge, attack wedge, approach wedge.

The reason for the A-wedge's versatility and variety of names is because of the history of golf clubs evolving to include more specific clubs for different occasions. As a result, a number of wedges have been created since the invention of A-wedges that are still considered members of the same family of clubs.

What Is the Purpose and Loft of an A-Wedge?

In earlier times, golf wedges were fewer: You had your pitching wedge and you had your sand wedge. For much of golf history—at least after the 14-club limit went into effect—those were the only wedges found in the bags of golfers, even in pros' bags.

Beginning in the latter stages of the 20th century, lob wedges (sometimes called X-wedges) came along as the highest-lofted clubs in the bag, but that still left a fairly large gap—with typically eight to 14 degrees of loft difference—between a pitching wedge and a sand wedge.

So the gap wedge was created to, literally, fill that gap, to serve as a club with a loft in between the PW and SW, allowing a golfer to more precisely control both the distance of shots and their trajectory into the green.

And the gap wedge, or a-wedge, is typically lofted in the low-to-mid-50-degree range but can range anywhere from about 46 degrees to 54 degrees.

A Brief History of Wedges: The Evolution of Golf Clubs

Back when golf first became a professional sport at the end of the 19th century, golfers had a limited number of clubs to choose from, which provided less control and aim to their swings. Since then, a number of additional clubs have been manufactured to increase their scores in the game by providing specific lofts that help with even more specific shots.

Originally, golfers only had the niblick club, which is similar to the 9-iron of today's golf bag, to hit balls from shorter distances or hazards like sand traps on the course. As a result, golf club manufacturers decided to release a series of clubs that had wider, angled faces and higher lofts that would allow for more ease in navigating a ball out of one of these hazards.

Over time, more wedges were developed to fill in the gaps between these new clubs, creating a system of clubs that can give golfers the exact loft, angle, and surface area needed to sink the ball in the hole.