Approach wedge Vs Gap wedge: Distinguishing both

If you are a seasoned golfer, you must know that the golf wedges are as important as your drivers, irons, and putters on the course, if not more. Scoring under par without them is almost impossible.

But among the variety of wedges available, choosing the right one is the part where most beginners get confused and make errors.

Over some years, I myself, have been through the process of hearing the names of different wedges, learning their mechanics, implementing them on the course, and watching my ball make the trickiest of shots with ease.

However, there has been much confusion and one was between an approach wedge vs gap wedge.

Approach wedge Vs Gap wedge

Are these just two names for the same club? Or do they vary?

Well, the answer is yes, and yes.

These wedges are like first cousins in the wedge family, closely related but with some subtle differences. Even though they can be used interchangeably, some golfers argue about the difference in loft angles and outcomes.

Before getting into the intricacies of these wedges, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of them. If you’re still seeking clarity, let’s have a look at the basic definitions for both. Once you’re ready, we’ll get into a precise comparison, followed by an in-depth head-to-head guide to help you confidently select the right wedge for your game.

Approach Wedge:

An approach wedge is the wedge that is used to approach the holes within the 80-yard range. With a loft between 50 to 54 degrees, the approach wedges are usually labeled as “A,” “U,” “W,” or “G” on the underside.

Gap Wedge:

The gap wedge, often used as a substitute for a 9-iron, is used for holes approximately 100 yards away from the hole. Having a loft within the range of 48 to 52 degrees, they possess an impressive trajectory that easily overcomes hurdles.

Quick Comparison: Approach wedge Vs Gap wedge:

Bridging the distance between the Pitching wedge and the Sand wedge, the Approach/Gap wedge possesses rather similar characteristics. Here are some quick distinguishing points that you should keep in mind next time you hit the course.

 Approach WedgeGap Wedge
Lofts50 to 54 degrees48 to 52 degrees
Yardages80 yards approx.100 yards approx.
TrajectorySteeperSlightly Flatter
VersatilityFull swings, pitches, chipsFull shots, pitches

Distinguishing the both – Head-to-head comparison:

Now, let’s get into the course and put the Approach Wedge and the Gap Wedge head-to-head to consider their loft, distance coverage, versatility, trajectory, spin, and usage.


golf Loft

Let’s start with the loft. The approach wedge has a higher loft angle of about 50-54 degrees as compared to the gap wedge. This loftier slant makes the ball go higher into the air, ending in a smooth landing. Whereas, the gap wedge, having a slightly lower loft of 48-52 degrees yields a more powerful flight, causing a precise roll after landing.


The approach wedge can hit the ball to approximately 80 yards. It is used for accurate short-distance shots. Beyond this distance, the gap wedge comes into play, operating from above 80 yards upto a 100 yards. Both these wedges are known for their ability to fill the distance void left between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge.


The approach wedge is best for delicate shots, giving adequate spin control. The loft design lets you go around obstacles, favoring you in difficult scenarios. However, the gap wedge’s flatter angle offers a more controlled spin with lesser rollover.


The approach wedge, with its higher loft, gives a steeper trajectory. In cases where you are facing hurdles on the course, and want the ball to overcome them, land softly and hold its position without overshooting, this wedge is the most beneficial. On the other side, the gap wedge’s trajectory is a little less steep. It comes in handy when you’re looking to cover a 100-yard distance with accuracy. After learning about the trajectory, you can easily go over obstacles and reach your target distance.


The similarities of these wedges enable us to use them in the same shots, interchangeably. Filling the distance between the rest of the wedges, the approach/gap wedge is best for shorter and mid-range shots. Whether it’s a pitch shot, full swing, or bunker play it helps in all conditions. But it’s not helpful when you’re attempting longer shots.

Limits and Considerations

When it comes to utilizing these wedges on the golf course, there are specific limits and considerations that you should be aware of to optimize your game while following rules.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) allows golfers a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag during a round. The plus point here is that the approach wedge and the gap wedge are interchangeable so you don’t have to keep them both but sometimes keeping even one of these wedges within this limit becomes challenging. 

Before making the final decision of what to keep, evaluate the weather conditions, and condition of the course – fairways, greens, and bunkers. Understand the yardage gaps between your wedges and choose the ones that suit your course requirements.

Wrapping up

golf wedges

To say the least, the Approach Wedge and the Gap Wedge are indispensable tools, each contributing to perfecting your short game. After considering the loft angles, yardages, shot control, trajectory, spin, and versatility, you must have figured out which one suits your playing style better.

If you already have the pitching wedge and sand wedge, adding either the approach wedge or the gap wedge might require a strategic shuffle. You can either swap out your pitching wedge or retain all three wedges, opting to sacrifice a long iron or fairway wood. If you’re still not able to decide, let a professional choose for you. With the right club in your bag, you might have a chance at a birdie or even an albatross. Remember that at the end of the day, golf is about enjoying your time on the course and having fun!

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Q) Is a gap wedge the same as an approach wedge?

A) There is some debate over this topic. The majority of golfers believe that gap wedges and approach wedges are the same things and often go by different names based on the manufacturer’s preference.

Whereas, some say that even though they share similarities, they have distinct characteristics. A gap wedge is designed to cover distances around 100 yards, bridging the gap between your pitching and sand wedges. An approach wedge, on the other hand, caters to shots around 80 yards. The key point is, they essentially serve the same purpose.

Q) What is the difference between Approach Wedge and Gap Wedge?

A) The difference between an Approach Wedge and a Gap Wedge lies in their loft angles and distance coverage on the golf course. While they share similarities, their distinctions change your short-game strategy.

The Approach Wedge, has loft ranges from 50 to 54 degrees, making it the go-to club for navigating distances around 80 yards. It offers a steeper trajectory and increased spin for precise landings.

On the other hand, the Gap Wedge has loft angles between 48 to 52 degrees. It covers yardages around 100 yards and allows for a more diverse trajectory.

Q) AW or GW, which one is best for high handicappers?

A) For high handicappers, the Gap Wedge often proves to be the more suitable choice compared to the Approach Wedge. Its versatility, with loft angles of 48 to 52 degrees is useful for players who are working on their accuracy and distance control. This loft range accommodates various shot scenarios, making it forgiving for inconsistent swings commonly associated with high handicaps. Also, these wedges cover around 100 yards which aligns well with the distances high handicappers frequently encounter.