Hot List

The best wedges for sand shots, according to low-, mid- and high-handicaps

February 27, 2024
1787989326

Mike Ehrmann

Wedges serve many masters. That’s particularly true of the highest-lofted club in the bag, which acts as a part-time full-swing club that also needs to be able to pull off pitch shots, flop shots and chips. Where the club is often most needed, however, is from the sand. Every golfer needs a reliable club from the bunker. One that delivers that pleasing “thump” instead of the dreaded dig. One that pops the ball up and out instead of you standing there with the ball rolling back to your feet.

Of course, there are different ways to accomplish this. Some wedges offer options galore and, with the advice of a qualified fitter, you can find the loft/bounce/grind combination that allows you to perform your best from the sand. If that’s not your thing, there are wedges that are more of a one-trick pony type of club—designed not so much to get the ball close to the hole, but to make extricating it from the sand a breeze almost every time.

To help you locate the best choice for you, we have the wedges that performed best from the sand (as rated by our Hot List player testers), broken down by each handicap group. Take a look and get ready to start marking down dots on your card for sandies. —E. Michael Johnson

Low-handicap

Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore/RTX Full-Face 2
$170 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170

When you have a proven winner, the temptation is to make modest improvements and move on. Not with these wedges. The amount of weight removed from the lower heel and replaced with the company’s ZipCore compound is nearly double from last year. The compound is a quarter of the weight of the steel it replaces, saving 21 grams that has been moved elsewhere to position the center of gravity toward the toe. This slightly increases the moment of inertia in the heel-toe and high-low directions to help mis-hits.

More on this club

Mizuno T24
$180 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

The T24 line has a thinner topline, shorter, more compact blade lengths and heads that transition in shape depending on loft compared to the T23. A straight-line look on the lower, full-swing lofts (for easier transition from the short irons) moves to more of a rounded look on the higher lofts to emphasize shot-making finesse (open-face shots in particular). Throughout though, the T24 maintains the classic teardrop shape better players prefer. Two new groove designs that are specific to higher and lower lofts provide more opportunity for the groove edges to interact with the ball for maximum spin.

More on this club

Ping S159
$200 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$200

With 25 stock options and six sole grinds, Ping wants to help as many kinds of swings as possible deliver the club efficiently through the turf. Spin is another important area of emphasis. The design of the grooves changes depending on the loft. Lower lofts feature volume to channel maximum debris on full shots. Grooves on the lower lofts (54 to 62 degrees) are tightly spaced so that the edges contact the ball cleanly. Throw in a friction-adding face blast, and you get more bite than an angry Rottweiler.

TaylorMade Milled Grind 4
$180 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

A clean design from groove to sole, the latest Milled Grind benefits from the machined sole shaping of its predecessors with enhanced spin. The grooves are the same as the Milled Grind 3 but have laser-etched diagonals on the flat areas between each score line to increase spin on partial shots and reduce spin loss in wet or dewy conditions. Redistributing weight to the perimeter on the higher lofts improves feel. Increasing the thickness of the flange in an area in line with the center of the face enhances sound and feel.

More on this club

Titleist Vokey Design SM10
$180 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

The new SM10 line is beyond complete with plenty of options for those savvy enough to get fit for wedges. The center-of-gravity location received particular attention. The smaller profile and shorter hosel lengths (on lofts 46 to 52) help drive the CG low to make the transition from short irons easier. In the 54- through 62-degree models, the CG has moved up, forward and toward the center to promote a lower, more controlled flight. The “spin milled” grooves have been updated and when combined with a texture between the grooves increase spin by as much as 300 revolutions per minute.

Mid-handicap

Callaway Jaws Raw
$180 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

Golfers dream of sucking the ball back like they’re playing walk the dog with a yo-yo. Callaway’s groove design is an effort to get players there. A 37-degree wall angle enhances the sharpness of the groove edge for extra grab on full shots. Micro-milled grooves between the regular grooves are milled at a 20-degree angle, helping spin on greenside shots. The variable-length hosels on the sand and lob wedges help control trajectory and improve forgiveness. Tungsten—used for the first time in a Callaway wedge—helps position the center of gravity in the middle of the face for enhanced control and feel.

More on this club

Cleveland CBX 4 ZipCore/CBX Full-Face 2
$170 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170

In 2017, Cleveland said that because 84 percent of everyday golfers were playing cavity-back irons, it made little sense to play with a wedge that didn’t match the rest of the irons in the bag. That led to the development of the wider-soled, cavity-back CBX wedge. Since then, the line has built on the original premise, adding more features along the way. The latest is the introduction of a loft-dependent face finish that increases friction at impact and combines with sharper, tighter spaced grooves for more spin.

More on this club

Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore/RTX Full-Face 2
$170 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170

When you have a proven winner, the temptation is to make modest improvements and move on. Not with these wedges. The amount of weight removed from the lower heel and replaced with the company’s ZipCore compound is nearly double from last year. The compound is a quarter of the weight of the steel it replaces, saving 21 grams that has been moved elsewhere to position the center of gravity toward the toe. This slightly increases the moment of inertia in the heel-toe and high-low directions to help mis-hits.

More on this club

Ping S159
$200 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$200

With 25 stock options and six sole grinds, Ping wants to help as many kinds of swings as possible deliver the club efficiently through the turf. Spin is another important area of emphasis. The design of the grooves changes depending on the loft. Lower lofts feature volume to channel maximum debris on full shots. Grooves on the lower lofts (54 to 62 degrees) are tightly spaced so that the edges contact the ball cleanly. Throw in a friction-adding face blast, and you get more bite than an angry Rottweiler.

TaylorMade Milled Grind 4
$180 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

A clean design from groove to sole, the latest Milled Grind benefits from the machined sole shaping of its predecessors with enhanced spin. The grooves are the same as the Milled Grind 3 but have laser-etched diagonals on the flat areas between each score line to increase spin on partial shots and reduce spin loss in wet or dewy conditions. Redistributing weight to the perimeter on the higher lofts improves feel. Increasing the thickness of the flange in an area in line with the center of the face enhances sound and feel.

More on this club

Titleist Vokey Design SM10
$180 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

The new SM10 line is beyond complete with plenty of options for those savvy enough to get fit for wedges. The center-of-gravity location received particular attention. The smaller profile and shorter hosel lengths (on lofts 46 to 52) help drive the CG low to make the transition from short irons easier. In the 54- through 62-degree models, the CG has moved up, forward and toward the center to promote a lower, more controlled flight. The “spin milled” grooves have been updated and when combined with a texture between the grooves increase spin by as much as 300 revolutions per minute.

Callaway CB
$160 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$160

Average players, rejoice: This wedge combines a high-spin face with a forgiving sole! More than a wedge for golfers who have difficulty escaping bunkers, the CB features a revised sole design that allow a wider variety of shots to be played. Not sure what bounce (i.e., the angle between the wedge’s leading edge and the lowest point of the sole) you should play? Callaway has done the work for you. The sand wedges have a healthy amount of bounce (14 degrees on the 54- and 56-degree) and less bounce on the lob wedges (12 degrees on the 58- and 60-degree) for more efficiency on short shots from tighter lies around the green. The lower lofts have between 10 and 12 degrees of bounce.

More on this club

Cobra Snakebite
$160 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$160

Cobra knows golfers have issues generating as much spin as they would like. This wedge revs up the golf-ball revolutions per minute by having narrow, deeper grooves for the 48- to 54-degree wedges and full-face grooves that stretch across the entire face on the higher lofts. A face-mill blast is applied after the chrome finish to reduce the loss of spin in wet conditions. For those seeking a tour-pro shape, a new raw finish is available through custom order.

More on this club

Edel SMS
$200 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$200

Most equipment technology focuses on what happens when the club meets the ball. Conversely, Edel designs clubs that help players get to impact more efficiently. The Edel SMS wedge is the latest example, using three adjustable weight ports in the back of the wedge not so much to adjust the wedge’s center of gravity (moving the heavy weight among the three ports only moves the CG slightly), but to adjust the way the wedge feels and matches your swing type, producing significantly better and more consistent distance, dispersion and spin compared to the other settings.

More on this club

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3
$180 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$180

TaylorMade’s Hi-Toe wedges, developed by staff players seeking more spin on open-face shots, came to have an almost secret following. It wasn’t easy to discern whether the wedge was designed for the game’s elite or simply a hacker’s helper. The answer is both. Although tour pros gravitated toward this model, TaylorMade’s team studied the impact location of 130,000 golfers and found nearly two-thirds had impact locations toward the toe. This led to the high-toe shape with grooves that stretch across the face in lofts 54 degrees and higher.

More on this club

High-handicap

Cleveland CBX 4 ZipCore/CBX Full-Face 2
$170 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170

In 2017, Cleveland said that because 84 percent of everyday golfers were playing cavity-back irons, it made little sense to play with a wedge that didn’t match the rest of the irons in the bag. That led to the development of the wider-soled, cavity-back CBX wedge. Since then, the line has built on the original premise, adding more features along the way. The latest is the introduction of a loft-dependent face finish that increases friction at impact and combines with sharper, tighter spaced grooves for more spin.

More on this club

Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore/RTX Full-Face 2
$170 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$170

When you have a proven winner, the temptation is to make modest improvements and move on. Not with these wedges. The amount of weight removed from the lower heel and replaced with the company’s ZipCore compound is nearly double from last year. The compound is a quarter of the weight of the steel it replaces, saving 21 grams that has been moved elsewhere to position the center of gravity toward the toe. This slightly increases the moment of inertia in the heel-toe and high-low directions to help mis-hits.

More on this club

Mizuno T24
$180 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$180

The T24 line has a thinner topline, shorter, more compact blade lengths and heads that transition in shape depending on loft compared to the T23. A straight-line look on the lower, full-swing lofts (for easier transition from the short irons) moves to more of a rounded look on the higher lofts to emphasize shot-making finesse (open-face shots in particular). Throughout though, the T24 maintains the classic teardrop shape better players prefer. Two new groove designs that are specific to higher and lower lofts provide more opportunity for the groove edges to interact with the ball for maximum spin.

More on this club

Mizuno S23
$160 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$160

Because wedges often feature long hosels and substantial mass toward the heel, the center of gravity leans toward the heel, but that doesn’t make for an efficient wedge, particularly for average players who tend to hit out on the toe. Mizuno addresses this by using a shorter hosel and a cavity in back that stretches from just right of center all the way to the heel, leaving more mass in the toe area. This creates a more centered CG and extends impact for maximum spin.

More on this club

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3
$180 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$180

TaylorMade’s Hi-Toe wedges, developed by staff players seeking more spin on open-face shots, came to have an almost secret following. It wasn’t easy to discern whether the wedge was designed for the game’s elite or simply a hacker’s helper. The answer is both. Although tour pros gravitated toward this model, TaylorMade’s team studied the impact location of 130,000 golfers and found nearly two-thirds had impact locations toward the toe. This led to the high-toe shape with grooves that stretch across the face in lofts 54 degrees and higher.

More on this club