To uncover the true identity of the "A-wedge"—what the name stands for and what the club is used for—I resorted to the same resource anyone would turn to when dealing with a high-stakes question: I phoned a friend.
I began by reaching out to my long-time golf buddy (7.5 index) who I figured has a strong understanding of golf wedges and equipment).
What do you think the "A" in "A-wedge" stands for?
His not-so-confident response was "advanced."
Next, I asked my men's league partner (6.4 index). He assumed it stood for "auxiliary."
Lastly, I texted my brother (18 index) who replied, "approach? Idk."
Without a definitive answer from three passionate golf friends, I consulted another good pal, Google. A simple web search confirmed my personal revelation that the name "A-wedge" causes a lot of confusion within the golf world. And while most brands and publications refer to it as an "approach wedge," seeing it appear as an "attack wedge" is not uncommon either.
Based on four different sources, I had now heard approach, attack, advanced, and auxiliary. So to settle the debate once and for all, I turned to TaylorMade Product Creation Manager (and golf equipment junkie) Chandler Carr for some definitive answers and insight.
What is an "A-wedge?"
"An A-wedge is really the transition club from your irons set (4-PW) to your classic sand and lob wedges. In the context of TaylorMade club, the "A" itself stands for "approach." In some cases, people will refer to it as an "attack" wedge, but whatever name you go with, it is ultimately a "gap" wedge to fill the distance void between your pitching wedge and sand wedge."
What kind of golf shots would a gap wedge be used for?
"It is a club that is designed for accurate—or aggressive—approach shots. Whether you're in the fairway or the rough or attempting a long bunker shot, an A-wedge is a very versatile golf club that can be used in a lot of different situations."
What is the loft of an A-wedge?
"Your standard A-wedge or gap wedge loft will fall around the 50 to 52-degree range. Looking at specific TaylorMade irons sets, the P770 A-wedge loft is 51°, P790 A-wedge is 50°, and the 2017 M2 A-wedge loft is 49°."
So how should someone choose between a set A-wedge and a more traditional 50 or 52-degree wedge?
"When you're deciding between an A-wedge or a 50/52-degree classic wedge, the first thing you want to look at is the shape. What shape do you like to look at? Your decision should ultimately come down to whatever you would be the most comfortable hitting.
The main difference between an A-wedge and, say, a 50-degree MG Wedge is shaping and construction. Take a P790 A-wedge for example... it features shaping that is in-line with the rest of the iron set and has hollow construction to give it a little extra distance and forgiveness. An MG Wedge will have more traditional wedge shaping, a narrower sole width, and there's no additional flexing of the face to improve performance—it's more about precision with MG Wedges, and it's more about performance with P790 irons."
So there you have it.
If you want to be safe, referring to your A-wedge as an "approach wedge" or "gap wedge" are the most commonly accepted terms. However, whether you choose to call it your A-wedge, approach wedge, attack wedge, gap wedge, or anything else, your ~50-52 degree golf club will be a useful and versatile tool to master for the next time you're in scoring position.