Golf is one of those games where a little attention to detail can make a substantial difference. With the margins in golf being so stupidly small, anything you can do to make them just that little bit bigger, is a good idea.
And this is one area where a little bit of thought and ‘know how’ can lower your scores, without you spending hours and hours ingraining a new technique.
Generally, I think sometimes equipment is over thought but I believe this is one aspect to take seriously.
What is Bounce?
Pretty much every golfer who has played for any length of time, has heard of the term ‘bounce’.
The only issue is, not all golfers know exactly what it is or how it will affect them.
So, very simply – the bounce is the angle between the trailing edge and the leading edge of the club.
Here’s a picture of one of my wedges which showcases this…
Quite simply, the more the leading edge is raised off the floor, the more bounce there is.
Also, another way to think about it, it is the angle created between the ground and the sole line of the club.
You’ll hear people explain it differently, but both are correct.
Why have bounce?
The sole purpose of bounce, is to guard against the leading edge of the club digging into the ground at impact…Think of it as an anti dig mechanism. More you have, the less your club will dig in the ground.
And how much bounce you will require will depend on a couple of factors… or maybe a mix of the two.
Angle of Attack
Your angle of attack (AOA) plays a prominent role when deciding how much bounce you need. A very simple rule is, if you have a steeper angle of attack then more bounce will help you.
With this kind of AOA, the club is moving much more vertically towards the ground, so any kind of miss hit and you want something which is going to guard against the club digging to Australia.
And alternatively if you have a shallower entry into impact, then less bounce is required. With this kind of AOA, the leading edge will approach the ball much more horizontally, so a leading edge which is closer to the ground, will enable you to slip underneath the ball.
Use a club with too much bounce and you’ll have a tougher time hitting it solid and the dreaded knife may even visit you a few times.
It could be the case, if you thin too many, you have too much bounce and if you’re catching too many heavy, then you need more.
But there could be lots of reasons why you are doing either of these things, so I would always suggest seeking out a wedge fitting. With the technology they use these days, like Trackman – you’ll find out exactly what bounce will help you and what will simply be hindering you.
According to club fitting expert – David Edel from Edel Golf, most golfers under bounce by 10 degrees on average…and you can hear his thoughts on the Golf Science Lab podcast. Its definitely an interesting perspective.
The conditions also play a role in how much bounce you should use. Obviously you won’t be changing your wedges for every single round, but just be a bit savvy when deciding.
If you tend to play in very tight or dry conditions then less bounce will help. Due to the lack of material beneath the ball, it’s harder to get underneath it and with too much leading edge on show, you run the risk of….well, you know the rest.
Also, if the ground is so firm – you have less to worry about in terms of the club digging in.
Or Vice versa if you tend to play in wetter conditions or the lies tend to be much fluffier, you obviously don’t want the club digging in too much leaving you prone to lots of duff chips.
For me, my home course is built on chalk which means in the summer it’s bone dry and in the winter, it’s a little soggy. Not a total bog like some courses turn into.
So, less bounce works well..
BUT my AOA is of the slightly steeper variety (although I am working on trying to shallow this out)…
So with these conflicting elements when deciding bounce, I find a mid bounce a good choice. I have 10 degrees in my sand and Gap wedges and 8 degrees in my lob wedge.
Using Bounce To Your Advantage
The technique I formerly used (which I think it’s partly the reason I developed the yips), was a kind of hands forward, de loft the wedge type motion – with the hope of connecting ball then turf.
Of course you want ball then turf, don’t you?
Well yes but it’s not imperative (in most lies).
It’s important to realise that when you deloft the club, you are decreasing the amount of bounce. This is okay on certain lies as we’ve discussed.
But being obsessed with the perfect strike might not be helping you.
The beauty of using the bounce is you don’t have to be this precise. You can hit an inch or two behind the ball and the bounce will enable the club to slide (not dig) under the ball.
So, my hands forward, deloft the club type motion was only decreasing the bounce…
It’s actually very clear to me now. Once I began to duff a few, I actually became scared of connecting with the ground at all.
Which made me focus even more on the strike, so I would shut the face even further down, which created less bounce, which created less margin for error.
Which created one big vicious cycle.
I remember when I was growing up, I was almost scared of bounce. I just thought it was for people who enjoyed knifing it over the green.
The term bounce is what get’s you. As if you get some kind of trampoline effect as soon as the wedge touches the ground.
This couldn’t actually be further from the truth…
Bounce is used so the club is able to ‘slide’ under the ball – not bounce under the ball.
So the message here is to not be afraid of it. In most cases, more bounce is going to save you, or at the very least – increase your margin for error.
If you take anything away from this article – Remember… SLIDE not BOUNCE.
Also, If I was you, I would spend as short time watching this interview with Roger Cleveland. It contains nuggets of information…in fact, watching this gave me my own light bulb moment.
How to Manipulate Bounce
There are a couple of things which you can do to increase or decrease the bounce on your wedges without melting the sole.
By simply opening the clubface, you will add bounce to the club. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a open face on bunker shots from nice fluffy sand. The last thing you want on these shots is the club digging. This will stunt all your speed and your next one will most likely be from the same spot…
If however you find yourself in one of those lies in the bunker where you can only see the top third of the ball, now this is a situation that you do want the club to dig. So for this shot, you can do the opposite. Shut the face down which we’ve already said, reduces the bounce.
Not all manufacturers are exactly the same when it comes to options they provide for bounce. But a general rule would be something like this.
- 4-8 degrees of bounce is considered LOW BOUNCE
- 8-12 degrees of bounce is considered MEDIUM BOUNCE
- 12+ is HIGH BOUNCE
These are the parameters that Titleist adhere to and they are arguably the best wedge manufacturers on the planet.
And you will find these degrees on the sole of the club by the loft, like so…
So let’s Summarize…
- Your current bounce options may be hurting or helping you.
- Before you purchase any wedges, I would highly recommend a proper fitting.
- Your AOA plays a huge role in how much bounce you require. Steep = more, shallow = less.
- Conditions play a big role as well. Hard/dry = less, Wet/fluffy = more.
- You can manipulate the bounce by opening or closing the club face. Open = more, closed = less.
- In most cases, you can use the bounce to your advantage so don’t be afraid of it.
- Remember – SLIDE not BOUNCE.