What is an AW Golf Club? (Approach Wedge Explained)

What’s the Loft Degree in an Approach Wedge?

The approach wedge covers the 48-to-54 degrees of loft for wedges. While other clubs like the pitching and sand wedge may dip their toe into that pool of loft degrees, the approach, or AW, wedge primarily cover this loft span.

What is an AW Golf Club?

AW stands for approach wedge with a loft that nestles the club between the sand and pitching wedge.

Also referred to as the gap wedge, because of its role in decreasing the difference between the sand and pitching wedge, the club offers up 120-130 yards of length in advanced players and around 100-110 yards in amateurs.

What is the difference between AW and GW?

There remains no difference between an approach and a gap wedge. Simply put, the two wedges are the same thing.

In essence, they just share a different name. Both approach and gap wedges utilize the same loft and swing when striking the shot with the club.

You do not need a different swing plane when hitting any wedge, including sand, gap, or lob wedge. The same holds true for the AW golf club.

Regardless of what you call the wedge, its primary responsibility is hitting approach shots into the green.

With the loft degree sitting anywhere from 48-to-54, golfers can expect a distance of around 100-120 yards with moderate spin to help stop the shots once they hit the green.

How does an Approach Wedge Compare to a Pitching Wedge?

In terms of yardage, a rough estimate of each wedge on the course suggests that the approach wedge travels roughly 100-110 yards, while the pitching wedge should go 110-120 for the average golfer using the same swing.

Since many factors are at play when trying to hit chip shots with the pitching wedge or approach wedge. However, the pitching wedge will hit flatter chip shots with more roll than the sand wedge, approach wedge, or gap wedge.

Pitching wedges carry a loft anywhere from 46-52 degrees.

Although there are different types of pitching wedges for your bag, the best one for golfing commonly is the one you have the most confidence in when striking shots around the green.

How to Use an Approach Wedge Correctly

Full Swings

When taking a full swing with gap wedges, it remains wise to start with the ball in the center of the stance.

Regardless of whether you are using a pitching wedge, sand wedge, approach wedge, or lob wedge, having the ball in the center of your foundation allows the golf club to use its natural loft to lift the ball.

Knockdown Shot

When looking to start mastering a knockdown shot with your approach wedge, the quick answer is to get the golf ball equidistant between your feet.

However, some golfers like to get their feet a little closer together to help maintain swing speed with a short takeaway for maximum power to hit their shot.

Chip Shot

With the ball back in your stance, the approach wedge can reach a variety of distances with several launch angles that produce different spin rates.

On chip shots around the green, especially when the distance is very short to the pin, the approach wedge and the degrees of loft on the face help reduce high trajectory shot height while still helping stop shots incredibly quick.

Approach wedges from popular brands, such as TaylorMade and Cleveland, utilize razor-sharp grooves that grip the ball and generate staggering spin, even on shots without the high trajectory that gap wedges are known to create.

Best Approach Wedges

Titleist Vokey SM9 Tour Chrome Wedge

Best for Low Handicappers

Titleist Vokey Design SM9 Tour Chrome Wedge 60.08M


  • Incredibly versatile, fully capable in any situation
  • High spin rates for total shot-stopping power
  • Clean turf interaction delivers crisp contact


  • Expensive price point, but well worth it for serious players

Titleist’s Vokey SM9 series offers a first-rate A-wedge for low handicappers looking to boost spin and increase distance control. At this level, golfers are looking for sophistication, and the Vokey SM9, popular among PGA Tour players, offers a complete host of benefits.

Along with elevated spin, the Vokey SM9 A-wedge also provides exceptional versatility from the fairway or rough. Not only can you dial in the perfect shot height with this wedge, but you can easily get out of trouble and reach the green without a problem.

A dynamic wedge worthy of its reputation, we adored the Titleist Vokey SM9 A-wedge for its stellar production.

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 Wedge

Best for Mid Handicappers

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 Wedge Copper Standard Bounce, 50.09, Left Hand, Stiff Flex


  • Full milling across the face for a boosted spin
  • Exceptional balance with deep, low CG
  • Razor-sharp groove system adds total control to your short game


  • Harder to see the center of the face with total milling

TaylorMade’s latest version of their Hi-Toe Wedge offers a premium A-wedge for mid handicappers that need a little forgiveness with their short game.

Offering complete milling across the entire hitting area, the Hi-Toe delivers the versatility that lets you launch high or mid-range for total spin control around the pin.

During our testing, we loved how the Hi-Toe A-wedge kept our shots along the target line without losing an MPH of speed. Make no mistake. If you aren’t a single-digit handicapper, this TaylorMade wedge offers outstanding forgiveness.

A capable and versatile A-wedge that’s great for mid handicappers ready to make the leap to shooting lower scores, the TaylorMade Hi-Toe wedge is an absolute delight on the links.

Cleveland RTX ZipCore Black Satin Wedge

Best for High Handicappers

Cleveland Golf LH RTX ZipCore Black Satin Wedge (Left Handed)


  • Wide sole offers smooth turf interaction
  • Clean contact without chunking full swing shots
  • Exceptional spin from the fairway with high launch


  • Straight-forward wedge without much sophistication

Ideal for higher handicaps and beginners, the Cleveland RTX ZipCore wedge offers clean, crisp shotmaking with a high launch that lands softly with plenty of spin.

The best feature of the ZipCore wedge is the wide, accommodating sole. For inexperienced golfers struggling to find consistency, the Cleveland wedge delivers low chunk results, helping you hit the ball higher and longer from the fairway.

Another highlight worth mentioning is the UltiZip groove system on the ZipCore wedge. Especially with the A-wedge, the grooves really grip the golf ball to increase spin after contact.

On clean shots from the fairway, the ZipCore wedges offer more spin than its competitors in this price range.

A smooth, easy to hit A-wedge for high handicappers, the Cleveland RTX ZipCore wedge provides straight ball flight with enough spin to hold the green.