Best Wedges for High Handicappers and Beginners

Best golf wedges for high handicappers and beginners

A walk through the wedge display at your local golf store can be intimidating.  There’s a huge range of manufacturers, lofts, bounce angles, sole grinds, and even colors.  Choosing the ones that are right for you can be a challenge, to say the least.

That’s why we wrote this article, to help you make that important decision.  As a high handicapper, it’s really important that the wedges you select are designed specifically for someone at your skill level, not for the golfer who carries a single-digit handicap.  

So if you want to know what the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners are, read on.  (Hint:  There are several excellent models that we highlight in our recommendations, but as you’ll see, our #1 pick for you is the remarkable Cleveland CBX 2 Wedge).

Highly Recommended

Cleveland CBX2

Cleveland CBX 2

  • Fantastic all-round wedge
  • Great value for money
  • Very forgiving
  • Suitable for most golfers

Summary of Our Recommendations

1st Place:  Best OverallCleveland CBX 25  Stars
2nd Place:  Runner UpCallaway Mack Daddy CB4.7  Stars
3rd Place (tie)Mizuno ES214.5  Stars
3rd Place (tie)Cleveland Smart Sole 4.04.5  Stars
4th PlaceCallaway Sure Out 24.2  Stars
5th PlaceTour Edge Hot Launch E5214.0  Stars
Top Pick:  Best Women’s WedgeCleveland Ladies Smart Sole 4.04.5  Stars
Top Pick:  Best Seniors WedgeCleveland CBX 25  Stars

Select the Right Wedges Based On Your Skill

There’s an interesting dynamic that occurs when beginners and high handicappers go shopping for new golf clubs.

When they look for new woods or a new iron set, they are (correctly) advised that they should look for a certain set of features in their new clubs, features that are specifically designed for players with their still-developing skill-set. 

Those specialized features are intended to make the game easier to play, for example, by providing forgiveness when they miss the sweet spot, or by facilitating a higher launch angle for added distance. 

Because their low-handicap counterparts don’t need similar game-improvement technology in their clubs, the woods and irons that they buy will be quite different in design and won’t offer the “help” that you’d find in clubs for high handicappers. 

Consequently, a beginner or a player that shoots 90+ would not be well served by using irons and woods meant for skilled golfers.

But, interestingly, while that concept is fairly well accepted when it comes to woods and irons, it is oddly ignored or overlooked when it comes to wedges. 

Too often, high-handicappers buy the appropriate game-improvement irons and woods, but then select wedges that are designed for better players. 

Many golfers aren’t even aware that there are differences in wedges, where some are targeted at skilled players and others at higher-handicappers.

We want to get you the help you need on shots all the way through your bag, not just on the longer clubs.  So we have analyzed the market and will make recommendations of the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners. 

We’ve read other wedge review articles on the internet and we’ve noticed that the wedges they recommend for high handicappers are often the same wedges that are recommended for skilled players. 

In a few cases that may be OK, but for the most part, that’s not a good strategy.  When you’re just getting started in the game, or when you’re carrying a high handicap and want to improve, the wedges you select should be designed specifically for your skill level.  It will make a big difference in your short game, which will translate to lower scores.

So let’s dive in and highlight our recommendations for you.


Best Wedges For High Handicappers and Beginners Considerations 

As we mentioned, high handicappers and beginners often need a little help from clubs that are designed to make the game a little easier for them.  This applies to wedges, just as it does to all the other clubs in the bag. 

Several manufacturers have recognized this unique market and offer wedges that specifically target players at higher handicap levels.  Some of the game improvement features that they incorporate into their wedges for this segment of golfers include:

Cavity-back design  –  offers perimeter weighting for more forgiveness

Wider soles  –  improves playability for higher handicappers

Higher bounce angles  –  reduces the tendency for the leading edge to dig

Larger head designs  –  more mass behind the ball inspires confidence

Lower center-of-gravity  –  creates higher launch angles

Our picks for the best wedges for high handicappers and beginners took these game improvement features into account. 

These models have all been assessed for their ability to make your short game better, whether that means your pitching from 20-60 yards, your chipping from around the green, or your play from greenside bunkers.


Quick Answer: Wedges for Mid-Handicappers

1. Cleveland CBX 2 Wedge

Cleveland CBX2 Wedge

We’re extremely impressed and excited about the Cleveland CBX 2 wedge, and have crowned it the winner as the best wedge overall for high handicappers.  In short, the CBX 2 checks all the boxes.  It not only looks fantastic, but it is absolutely loaded with the kinds of features that will improve your short game.

·      First of all, its cavity back design (the “CB” in the model name stands for cavity back) gives you more forgiveness than standard blade or muscleback designs when you miss the sweet spot.  But Cleveland has taken forgiveness even a step further:  they’ve cut out a section of the hosel and moved that excess weight out toward the toe area.  Why? 

This pushes the center-of-gravity slightly toward the toe to increase the moment-of-inertia even more (MOI is a measurement of the club head’s resistance to twisting at impact), which makes those mis-hits feel and perform almost as good as if you had flushed it. 

·      Another unique design feature is that the head of the club is actually hollow.  The hollow design adds to the forgiveness you’ll get, but it also tends to reduce vibrations, providing an extremely solid feel at impact. This isn’t the first golf club that has had a hollow design (some high-end irons offer this), but it’s not something you’ll often find in wedges.

They’ve further enhanced the “feel” component by including a thermoplastic polyurethane gel insert between the undercut cavity and the back of the face to provide extra cushion.

·      Cleveland has also put major emphasis on spin creation, by engineering a unique groove system that really grips the ball aggressively, giving you that extra “bite” on the greens that’s so important in the short game. 

Cleveland CBX2 Wedges

The CBX 2 has what are called Tour Zip Grooves, which are designed to be very sharp-edged and to have the maximum “volume” that the USGA and R&A allow.  And they then placed additional machine-milled micro-grooves between the primary grooves!  Net result:  a lot of spin!  Being able to control your shots by managing and maximizing your spin is a huge advantage for every level of golfer, but will be particularly appreciated by high handicappers.

·      The CBX 2 is available in a wide variety of options:  1) lofts from 46° to 60°, which give you multiple choices for your pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, or lob wedge, 2) several different bounce options, designed specifically for the loft you select, and 3) four different sole options.

Bottom line:  Great looks, tons of forgiveness, solid feel, excellent spin.  What’s not to like?   THE CBX 2 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS THE BEST WEDGE FOR HIGH HANDICAPPERS.

Who is CBX 2 recommended for?Designed mainly for players needing game improvement features, but can be played by a wide range of golfers
Loft Options46°, 48°, 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58°, 60°
Bounce Options9° on 46°/48°,  11° on 50°/52°,  12° on 54°/56°, 10° on 58°/60°
Sole OptionsV-Shaped on 46° thru 52°, S-Shaped on 54°-56°, C-Shaped on 58°-60°
Finish OptionsChrome or Black Satin
Shaft OptionsDynamic Gold 115 Steel or Rotex Precision Graphite
OrientationRight and left hand versions available

2.   Callaway Mack daddy CB

Callaway Mack Daddy CB Wedge

Callaway has been one of the industry leaders in wedges for many years.  In fact, their Mack Daddy 5 wedge (the blade version counterpart to the Mack Daddy CB that we are recommending here) is one of the most popular and best-selling wedges for better players on the market, and is in the bags of many PGA Tour players. 

The good news?  The performance of this cavity back

version, the Mack Daddy CB, approaches the elite performance of its high-end sibling,

but comes in a head design that is much more friendly to higher handicappers. 

This is clearly categorized as a game-improvement wedge and would be another excellent choice for those players who want a wedge that looks and responds like a player’s wedge, but gives you ample help where you need it the most.   It definitely deserves this spot among the best wedges for high handicappers.

What we like most:

·      The Mack Daddy CB features a very forgiving cavity-back design which means that you don’t always need to have perfect, center-face contact to see good results.

·      The profile of the club head is a little bit larger than some of the other wedges on the market.  The sole of the club is fairly wide, and the topline is a bit thicker. This will be particularly noticeable, for example, if you were to do a side-by-side comparison with the sleeker and thinner blade version Mack Daddy 5. 

But rather than being a considered a negative, we’ve found that a lot of beginners and high-handicappers find this larger profile to be an attractive feature, as it inspires confidence as it sits behind the ball at address.

Callaway Mack Daddy CB Wedges

·      The wider sole serves other important purposes for high handicappers.  It adds weight low in the club head, and that low center-of-gravity makes getting a high launch almost effortless.  The club does all the work for you!  You’ll also find that this extra sole width will make it much easier for you to get out of sand traps.

·      The specialized groove design that makes the non-cavity Mack Daddy 5 so effective at creating high spin rates (called their “JAWS” design) has been carried over to the Mack Daddy CB.  This unique “groove-in-groove” feature aggressively grips the ball, giving you some real stopping power on the greens.

·      With a wide array of lofts available, there are several options for choosing a pitching wedge, a gap wedge, a sand wedge, or a lob wedge.

Who is Mack Daddy CB recommended for?The Mack Daddy CB is a game improvement wedge for high handicap players
Loft Options46°, 48°, 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58°, 60°
Bounce Options10° on 46°/48°,  12° on 50°/52°,  14° on 54°/56°, 12° on 58°/60°
Sole OptionsTwo sole grind options: a full sole in the lower lofts, and a ‘W’ grind in the higher lofts to enhance the bounce and overall forgiveness
Finish OptionsPlatinum Chrome or Black Matte
Shaft OptionsKBS Hi Rev 2.0 Steel or KBS Hi Rev G80 Graphite
OrientationRight and left hand versions available

3. Mizuno ES21 Wedges

Mizuno ES21 Wedge

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Mizuno, they have been recognized as the premier maker of precision irons for decades. 

They are a Japanese company and don’t do all the advertising that some of the manufacturers do, but those in the know in the golf industry know that the name Mizuno is synonymous with quality.  As just one example, until just recently Brooks Koepka used Mizuno clubs for many years.

So people took notice when Mizuno introduced the ES21 wedge, knowing that they would incorporate all of their expertise, high tech processes, and premium materials into this new wedge.  And Mizuno hasn’t disappointed.

With its beautiful, stark, high-polish black finish, combined with a black steel shaft, the ES21 is a remarkable looking club, with an almost stealth air to it, sure to get some attention from your playing partners.   The other thing you’ll notice about the ES21 is that it is a large-headed design with a thick topline. 

But, cleverly, Mizuno has designed the head so that the mass of the club is really only visible when viewed from behind.  When you look down at the head at address, all that size seems to disappear, and what you see looks like a much sleeker design.

Mizuno ES21 Wedge back

What we like most:

·      The ES21 wedge head, like the Cleveland CBX 2, is a hollow two-piece design with a grain flow forged boron face welded to a stainless steel back piece.  That unique construction gives the club a wonderful feel off the face, which is also highly stable.

·      Mizuno equipped the face with their patented “Quad Cut Grooves,” which are ultra-precise CNC milled grooves that provide a significant amount of spin.  But, in addition to these standard horizontal grooves, Mizuno is the only company to have also etched into the face additional vertical “hydroflow” grooves. 

Like the treads on a tire, these vertical grooves serve to wick away moisture, which allows better friction even in wet conditions, making the ES21 the best performing wedge in the rain.

·      The ES21 comes in two different sole options, a standard width sole and a wide width sole.  Due to its game improvement capabilities, we’d recommend that beginners and high handicappers opt for the wide sole option.

·      As far as cost goes, you’ll find that the Mizuno ES21 is a bit on the pricier side compared to our other recommendations.  If you’re watching your budget, that may be a reason to opt for one of our other picks.  But if cost isn’t a major decision criterion for you, you’d do well to put one of these beauties in your bag.

Who is Mizuno ES21 recommended for?The target market for Mizuno ES21:  high handicap players
Loft/Bounce Options54/08, 54/12, 56/10, 56/14, 58/08, 58/12, 60/10, 60/06
Sole OptionsTwo options are available:  A standard sole or a wide sole.
Finish OptionsBlack, with a lighter gray face
Shaft OptionsKBS Hi Rev 2.0 Steel or KBS Hi Rev G80 Graphite
OrientationRight hand version only

4.   Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 Wedge

Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 Wedge

Yet another wedge from Cleveland has made our list of recommendations. Although all of the wedges we’ve picked for you as the best wedges for high handicappers are game improvement clubs, the Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 takes that to another level.  It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call this wedge an Ultra Game Improvement model.  Its entire purpose is to make short game shots as easy as possible for those who need the help.

Its most noticeable feature is an extremely wide sole.  As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, wide soles help high handicappers in several ways, not the least of which is helping them avoid having the leading edge dig into the turf before contact is made. 

Fat shots are simply much less likely with the Smart Sole 4.0 due to what Cleveland describes as a “Three-Tiered Sole” which adds bounce to the club.  The added bounce helps the sole of the club skim the ground surface, preventing players from “hitting the big ball before the little ball.”

Cleveland says that the Smart Sole 4.0 will make life easier for high handicappers who struggle with their short game.  We concur.  Whether you’re hitting pitch shots to the green, chip shots from around the green, and especially bunker shots from greenside traps, this wedge does a lot of the work for you.

What we like most:

·      Cleveland hasn’t ignored the importance of good feel in a game improvement wedge.  One of the ways they accomplished that with the Smart Sole 4.0 was to take extra weight from the hosel and re-position it to move the center of gravity closer to the club face.  They call this Feel Balancing Technology, and it gives a better overall feel and improved consistency.

·      Like many of our recommended wedges, the Smart Sole 4.0 incorporates very aggressive milled grooves to provide high spin rates.

·      The wedges are available in three different models:  a C model chipper (42°), a G model gap wedge (50°) and an S model sand wedge (58°).  The inclusion of a “Chipper” in this lineup is a smart move by Cleveland, and it would be a smart choice by players who dread those short shots around the green.  This club makes chipping almost foolproof.

·      The overall profile of the head is on the large side.  As we’ve said, though, a larger head can instill confidence in higher handicappers on short game shots, more comfortable in the assurance that you’re less likely to hit a fat or thin shot.  This wedge is very easy to hit.

Who is Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 recommended for?The Smart Sole 4.0 is a game improvement wedge for high handicap players
Loft OptionsComes in 3 models:  a 42° Chipper (C), a 50° Gap Wedge (G), and a 58° Sand Wedge (S)
Bounce Options8° on the C model, 6° on the S model (although extra wide sole adds additional effective bounce.
Sole OptionsThe soles on all 3 models are extra-wide
Finish OptionsSatin
Shaft OptionsTrue Temper Smart Sole Steel or Cleveland Graphite Wedge Flex
OrientationRight and left hand versions available

5. Callaway Sure Out 2 Wedge

Callaway Sure Out 2 Wedge

The new Sure Out 2 wedge is the follow-on model to the original Sure Out that was introduced in 2017.  The original generated some buzz initially because renowned instructor Hank Haney was heavily involved in its design.  It had some good game improvement features, but it never seemed to do quite as well as many of its game improvement competitors at the time.

That’s all changed now.  Callaway has always been known to take user feedback seriously and they have done so here, making the Sure Out 2 a top model in the Ultra Game Improvement segment.  They’ve enhanced the design of the predecessor model significantly, creating a new, high-performing wedge that targets high handicap players who feel they need the maximum amount of short game help.

It boasts an extra wide flange on the sole, which we’ve already noted is a very desirable feature for high handicappers.  But it’s down there on the sole that Callaway incorporated another design improvement.  In addition to enhancing the sole radius, they added some heel relief, which gives better playability from all kinds of different lies.

You’ll notice a unique feature when you take a look at the face.  While the grooves on almost all other wedges cover about ¾ of the face (they usually stop at about an inch from the toe edge), the 17 grooves on the Sure Out 2 extend all the way to the edge.  Callaway claims this provides an expanded hitting surface and enhanced spin.

One other very thoughtful addition has been added.  The Sure Out 2 comes standard with a Lamkin grip, made exclusively for this wedge, that has three “step down” markings on it that allow you to dial in varying distances based on which of the markings you use to position your hands.

Who is Callaway Sure Out 2 recommended for?The target market for Callaway Sure Out 2:  high handicap players
Loft Options56°, 58°, 60°, 64°
Sole OptionsAll models feature an extra wide sole width
Finish OptionsChrome
Shaft OptionsKBS 90 Wedge Steel or UST Mamiya 65 Graphite
OrientationRight and left hand versions available

6. Tour Edge Hot Launch E521

Tour Edge Hot Launch E521 wedge

If you are a watcher of the PGA Tour Champions on TV, you’ve probably heard all about Tour Edge.  They’ve gotten a real presence on the Seniors tour, with several of the high-profile pros now playing Tour Edge clubs.

Their most recent wedge introduction though, the Hot Launch E521, is targeted at the high handicapper market, incorporating all of the features that are aimed at game improvement:  extra wide sole, high bounce, larger overall footprint, perimeter weighting for maximum forgiveness, etc.   There’s a ton of “tech” in this wedge.

The signature feature of the E521 wedge is what Tour Edge calls its “Houdini” sole.  This is a super wide flange on the bottom of the club head that puts more weight below and behind the ball, so getting the ball up into the air, even out of bad lies, is very easy.  With a substantial 14° of bounce and a deep undercut cavity, it also resists digging.  The head seems to glide effortlessly through the turf.

Tour Edge has kept the loft options simple and straightforward.  The E521 comes in just three models:  a 52° Gap Wedge, a 56° Sand Wedge, and a 60° Lob Wedge.

One thing you’ll especially appreciate is its wallet-friendly price point.  Tour Edge has a marketing strategy, with all their products, to offer high quality clubs that are “value” focused.  The Hot Launch E521, with its sub-$100 price, is a perfect example of that.

Who is Tour Edge Hot Launch E521 recommended for?The target market for Hot Launch E521:  high handicap players
Loft/Bounce Options52°, 56°, 60°  –  all lofts feature a 14° bounce angle
Sole OptionsAll models feature an extra wide sole width
Finish OptionsPlatinum
Shaft OptionsKBS Max 80 Steel or Mitsubishi Fubuki HD Graphite
OrientationRight and left hand versions available

7.  Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 Wedge

Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 wedge ladies

All of the reasons why we selected the Cleveland Smart Sole 4.0 as a men’s top pick, are the same reasons why we feel this is the top choice for women high handicappers.  It is an ultra game improvement model that does most of the work for you, and it will simply make your short game better.  Getting out of sand traps becomes easier, chipping around the green becomes easier. 

As we mentioned earlier regarding this club, it has an extra wide “three-tiered” sole that all but eliminates those fat shots where the club’s leading edge digs into the turf.  That sole also delivers a lot of forgiveness, so that when you make less-than-perfect contact, you’ll nonetheless get rewarded with a result almost as if you had hit the sweet spot.

And just as with the men’s version, the aggressive milled grooves generate exceptional spin to help you stop the ball from rolling out on the greens.  It also comes standard with a lightweight women’s graphite shaft.

What we like most:

·      Extra-wide three-tiered sole features leading edge bounce for maximum forgiveness from all types of lies

·      Feel Balancing Technology aligns the center of gravity with the center of the face for improved feel and greater consistency on every shot

·      New aggressive milled grooves produce more spin from all types of conditions

·      S sole design is optimized to make bunker and sand shots easier than ever

Who is Women’s Smart Sole 4.0 recommended for?The target market for Smart Sole 4.0:  high handicap women
Loft Options42°, 50°, 58° 
Sole OptionsAll models feature an extra wide sole width
Finish OptionsSatin
Shaft OptionsWomen’s Smart Sole Graphite
OrientationRight hand only

8.  Cleveland CBX 2 Wedge

Cleveland CBX2 Wedge

How could we choose any other wedge for our senior golfers?  If you read our review of this club above (“Best Overall Wedge”), you saw that we found no faults with this model.  It has been extremely successful since it was introduced by Cleveland, and for good reason.  It does exactly what you’d want a wedge to do if you’re a beginner or high handicapper….or a senior.

What do most seniors want in their golf clubs?  Forgiveness on off center hits, help in getting the ball airborne, a club that gets them out of sand traps easily, and one that generates lots of spin.  The CBX 2 does all of that, and more. 

Another feature that seniors often say they want is a lightweight club due to their declining swing speed.  With the Rotex Precision Graphite shaft that is available as an option, the CBX 2 delivers there as well, and helps you to re-capture some of that lost speed.

As we said, the Cleveland CBX 2 is a remarkable club for seniors and you should give this your serious consideration when it comes time to invest in new wedges.

[Refer to the table with the CBX 2 specifications presented earlier in the article]


Conclusion

The clear winner in our assessment of the Best Wedges for High Handicappers is the Cleveland CBX 2.  Why did this wedge earn our highest recommendation?  It provides the perfect blend of game improvement technology combined with high performance. 

It offers all of the forgiveness and help that high handicappers need, but it has the looks and feel of a “player’s” club.  Cleveland definitely got it right with the CBX 2.

The runner up selection, the Callaway Mack Daddy CB, is also an extremely strong contender.  Callaway has risen to the top of the wedge market with their entire line of Mack Daddy wedges, which until now have targeted low-to-mid handicappers.  With the introduction of the cavity-back version, Callaway is bringing the quality of this highly regarded line to the high handicap market.

While those two wedges got top honors in our assessment, all of our selections were analyzed on the basis of their ability to make the short game easier, and to make golf more fun for you.  When you’re ready to consider putting new wedges in your bag, we hope you’ll use our extensive analysis to help guide your selection process.  Good luck!

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Disclaimer: We hope you love the products we recommend. Our recommendations are impartial and based on our own experience. We may collect a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links on this page. There is no additional cost to you. Thank you for reading Simple Golf Path!

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