Do you still carry a sand wedge? I doubt it. At least not in conventional terms.
You might say that you have a 56 degree wedge in your bag. Well it's much different then what a "sand wedge" was. Much different. First, note what an original type sand wedge sole looked like.
The original sand wedge designed by Hagen and Sarazen had metal soldered to the back of the skinny flange of a pitching wedge. This gave the club a larger "skid plate" in order to prevent it from digging into the sand. The problem that started to occur is that in the 1980's and 1990's high end country club fairways and tournament fairways started to become mown tighter and tighter. If you take a wedge with a large sole width that might work great in soft sand and try to utilize it on tightly mown lies your asking for trouble. Most likely a scull that will send your ball sailing into trouble well beyond the green.
Over time what happened is that high level players would take their old wedges and start to grind the back of them down to create a relief on the wedge and to reduce the effective sole width. Shortly thereafter came an era of wedge "grinders". They were the go to guys in order to find flanges that were better suited for a players game. In rolls the club manufacturers to now provide many different flange types to help fit you dependent on your swing type. Currently there are some club manufacturers that offer well over ten different sole configurations for different swing types and turf conditions. That is a topic worthy of it's own post in the future.
Now enter exhibit "b", the modern sand wedge. First you will see that the modern sand wedge does not even have the name sand wedge on it anymore. The reality is that your sand wedge might even have a thinner sole on it than your 60 degree wedge. How about that? To this day I have students come in and tell me how their sand wedge is the "only" club they can use in the sand due to it's "magical" properties in sole design. Well guess what? It's not true. In fact the majority of green side sand shots played on tour are attempted using 58 degrees or higher. Many using 60 and 62 degree wedges. Gone are the days that the sand wedge is your one and only pick when entering the pit of doom. I jokingly call it the pit of doom with my students since so many come to me with massive mental trauma from past experiences in the bunker. It's not too hard of a shot. Especially once you learn it right. I will be offering some instructional videos soon to demonstrate the techniques that work best.
My final thoughts. Don't buy wedges with names (S / L etc) on the bottom. It's very "old school". All the great high end wedges are simply stamped with the loft and bounce. Come on... you want to look like a player too right? Well that old SW in your bag is dating your set. Kind of like pleated golf pants. If your wearing pleated pants and have a SW in your bag you're in trouble... big trouble. Get yourself a nice mid bounce 56 and a mid bounce 60 and look like a player. I can teach you how to use them... I've been doing it for over 15 years. I wrote a book on it... Short Game Reality (412 Pages... Ingram Publishing). Learn to use those modern wedges in all conditions. You're going to score better... I know it.
Till next time...
Your Coach For Life... Score Your Best!
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