It's unlikely that many people could accurately and succinctly explain the purpose of bounce on a wedge, but choosing the correct option can play a huge role in helping your game.
Fundamentally, the bounce angle is the angle at which the leading edge sits above the ground at address, acting to prevent the leading edge from digging into the turf whilst also reducing the resistance of the clubhead when hitting through the sand in a bunker.
It was during the 1932 Open Championship that bounce, and the sand wedge as we know it today, was born. The iconic Gene Sarazen conceived the design during a trip in scratch golfer Howard Hughes’ plane. His daughter Mary Anntold Golf.com in 2010 that having observed the flaps of the wing during take off, he made the connection between them and how he could add material to his sand wedge to allow it to glide through the sand.
Sarazen welded a piece of steel to the sole of the club and ground it, producing ‘bounce’. This allowed the club to slide through the sand, helping to pop the ball into the air from the tricky pot bunkers of Prince's Golf Club. Sarazen’s invention changed the game of golf for the better, introducing the explosive bunker shot technique we all use to this day.
Sarazen went on to win the 1932 Open Championship and US Open with his new creation in the bag. This led Wilson to design and produce a similar club. During 1933, Wilson sold 50,000 units of the club known as the R-90, the most popular sand wedge in golf.
Now, back to why you came here in the first place.
Determining your angle of attack is the first step when deciding what bounce you should be playing with. If you have a steep angle of attack and often take large divots, then you are a digger. If, however, you have a shallow angle of attack, take small divots and clip the ball off the turf, you are a sweeper. Diggers will benefit more from wedges with a higher bounce, whereas sweepers want less.
Other factors that may affect you choice of bounce include the type of course you play on and the turf conditions. If you play on a course that is firm and dry, you will see the benefits of playing a wedge with less bounce and a narrow sole grind. If you find yourself often thinning the ball with your wedges, then less bounce is also likely to help you.
The opposite is true for those who tend to play on softer and wetter courses. Higher bounce and a wider sole will help the club to glide out of the turf with greater ease and help you if you tend to hit the ball fat.
With so many variables to choose from, it can be confusing and difficult to choose the right wedge for your game. If in doubt, get fitted, consult with a professional and you’ll likely see your short game improve.