Originally Posted by GaijinGolfer
PW used to be 47* and thats why people commonly had 52/56/60 because it was a fairly common spacing. ...
This spacing arose from the popularizing of the LW and soon after the GW.
PW and SW formed the common wedge pair from Gene Saracen days until the 1980s. The high-loft lob wedge supposedly existed as a niche club in the 1950s, but didn't become popular until 1980 when short-game guru Dave Pelz talked Tom Kite into putting a 60* wedge into his bag. Kite won the PGA Tour money title the following year - and at least one tournament a year from 1981-1987. This helped popularize the high-loft wedge.
Pelz, in Short Game Bible (published in 2002), recommends a 4-wedge set of PW, SW, LW and XW (extreme wedge, 64* or so). Most players now drop the XW in favor of a GW.
The gap wedge emerged in the 1990s as a response to the ever-strengthening lofts of irons, and how it affected the wedges. Major manufacturer equipment tables (below):
|| 9 iron
| 2008-2010 +
+ Drawn from various OEM brochures
From 1974 through today the SW remained constant at about 55 - 56* in order to pop the ball out of bunkers. The Gap Wedge came in to fill the increasing loft gap between PW and SW, sometime more than 8 degrees.
With the stock PW of iron sets averaging from 45 to 47 degrees, the PW / 52 / 56 / 60 mix is the unofficial standard for three-wedge sets. For others, PW / 50 / 54 / 58 is a popular mix. Quite a few golfers use a 3 wedge set - just look in the ST bag summaries to see examples.
Golfers should note that the iron set PW may end up hitting the ball either more or less than 10 yards longer than a specialty 52* GW. If the GW / SW / LW are part of an iron set, they may come closer to giving even distance gaps.
Club designer Ralph Maltby gives a breakdown on the five types of wedges: http://ralphmaltby.com/47