Wedges Buyer’s Guide 2007

Known as the most versatile club in the bag, the wedge is a bona fide score saver

Wedges 2007There's a reason why the distance from within 100 yards is called the scoring zone. It's the "make it or break it" area, where a great wedge shot can redeem a bad drive or poor approach to the green. Any miscue from this zone is considered an unforced error that should have been avoided (especially from the fairway). So, what's that mean? Choosing the right wedges can be the difference between one or more strokes on any given hole! To start, it's important to find a wedge that matches your needs, and luckily, if you're in the market for game-improvement models, '07 is chockfull of new choices.

Sole Patrol The wider the sole, the less the club digs into the ground, making it easier to get the ball out of thick rough and sand. As for the angle of the sole relative to the ground, that's called the "bounce angle." High bounce angles work well in soft areas and vice versa. aebg07opener-wedges-tech.jpg

Shank-Stoppers What's more frustrating than a shanked pitch? Doing it twice. Thankfully, wedges like the new f2 Plus feature innovative technologies to help prevent shanks. In this case, the neck is located away from the leading edge to promote a hosel-less hit.

Cavity Search Cavities aren't just for irons anymore, as a whole bunch of new wedges prove that forgiveness is still very important to most golfers. That doesn't mean these wedges aren't versatile, as some combine a cavity with tour grind soles to allow for remarkable playability.

Know Your Specs What goes into choosing the right wedge? Knowing what you need and what kind of courses you play on. First, start with deciding between a cavity-back or traditional blade or one of the new non-traditional shapes. Second, look at the material and decide whether chromed, satin or unchromed looks best to you. Third, decide on grooves and face textures (this is the important factor when it comes to spin). And finally, make sure you pick the correct loft/bounce configuration. Often, the difference between your pitching wedge and a sand wedge is several degrees of loft, so a lower-lofted gap wedge is needed to fill the "gap."

As for actual sand wedges, high-lofted/low-bounce models tend to be better suited for skilled wedge players or those who play on firm courses, while moderately lofted/mid-to-high-bounce models tend to suit the recreational player who plays on normal to soft conditions throughout the year.

Understanding Our Charts Features: The primary design elements that make the wedge noteworthy. Advantages: How the primary design elements are meant to elevate the performance of the club. Benefits: A general recommendation as to which skill level or player type would best be served by the model in question. What We Like: We have our preferences, too. A quick description of what impressed us in our review and testing. Lineup: The other wedge models available from the manufacturer. Clubhead: The primary material from which the club is either forged or cast, usually a form of stainless or carbon steel. There are two basic designs: cavity-back or blade. Clubface: Indicates the material used for the strike area. Design: Here you'll find whether the club is forged or cast, and its general shape. Basically, wedges fall into two shape categories–blades or cavity-backs. Size: Three sizes listed–standard, midsize and oversize. Clubs: Lists the loft/bounce combinations available in the line and whether or not the clubs are available for lefties. Shafts: These are the stock graphite and steel shaft offerings from the manufacturer.

Adams Puglielli (800) 622-0609 | $119 w-adams-puglielli.jpgThe brain child of veteran club builder Max Puglielli, this self-named wedge is designed with the low-handicapper in mind. Featuring CNC-milled grooves and a Fly-Cut face for superior flatness, consistency and improved spin around the green, this wedge performs well. Features: The Puglielli design affords golfers the choice between two wedges based on their swing characteristics (steep or sweeping). Advantages: One of the top wedges for players who like to open or close the face at address. Benefits: The better player will appreciate the effectiveness of the club's design subtleties. What We Like: The high-polish finish and multiple loft/bounce options make this wedge a winner. Lineup: Puglielli Wedges, Tom Watson Wedges Clubhead: Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/7_¡ GW; 54_¡/15_¡, 56_¡/12_¡ SW; 58_¡/12_¡ LW; 60_¡/8_¡ LW (no LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (S) Bridgestone WC Design (800) 359-6319 | $120 w-Bridgestone-WC-Design.jpgRecently Bridgestone opened a West Coast Design unit, and the WC Design represents their first wedge offering. Features: The WC was named for Bridgestone's new West Coast Design outfit. The wedges were produced with feedback from Tour players. Advantages: It's made of 8620 carbon steel, so you know it's soft. The milled U-Grooves are constructed to the USGA maximum spin rate and produce higher and more consistent spin from all kinds of lies. Benefits: Bridgestone's Variable Bounce Technology creates a sole with less bounce in the heel and toe, providing more shotmaking versatility. What We Like: Stuart Appleby advised Bridgestone during the design process. Lineup: WC Design, J33 Black Satin Forged, J33 Forged Clubhead: 8620 Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/9.5_¡, 54_¡/11.5_¡ GW; 56_¡/12_¡ SW; 60_¡/10.5_¡ Shafts: Dynamic Gold Wedge steel (wedge)

Ben Hogan Apex (866) 834-6532 | $135 w-ben-hogan-apex.jpgThanks to a refined tail-end sole grind, classic shape and the maximum allowable groove width, the Apex wedges deliver championship-caliber performance. Features: Slight offset is handy to prevent slicing with irons, but on wedges, it appeals to a skilled player looking for total shotmaking and trajectory control from various distances. Advantages: The deep grooves and Tour-inspired sole design help to spin the ball not only from perfect lies, but also from the rough and sand. Benefits: Although designed with the aid of Tour pros, these wedges will help any player. What We Like: The Apex 5208 gap wedge performs like a sand wedge, but with the distance of a pitching wedge. Lineup: Apex, Colonial, Carnoustie, Riviera Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Forged blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/8_¡ GW; 56_¡/12_¡ SW; 60_¡/6_¡ LW Shafts: Ben Hogan Apex steel (wedge) Callaway X-Tour (800) 588-9836 | $135-$150 w-callaway-x-tour.jpgRenowned clubmaker Roger Cleveland designed these traditional forged wedges for Phil Mickelson. Features: Forged carbon-steel construction, special PM (Phil Mickelson) grind and "Mack Daddy" grooves complement the Tour-inspired head shape (available in either Satin Chrome or Vintage finishes). Advantages: Carbon-steel construction provides exceptional feel while the sole grind and unique groove design makes the X-Tour extremely versatile, particularly for better players. Improved head shape provides confidence. Benefits: Better players who like to open and close the clubface to execute a variety of shots. What We Like: Any wedge designed by Roger Cleveland. The Vintage finish is a nice touch, too. Lineup: Forged+, X-Tour. Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Forged blade Size: Standard Clubs: Eight loft and bounce configurations (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (wedge) Cleveland 588 RS (800) 999-6263 | $119-$128 w-Cleveland-588-RS.jpgA new 60-degree wedge designed for extra help escaping from the sand. Features: A low center of gravity and large, wide "recovery sole" helps launch sand shots out of every type of lie. Advantages: Its wide sole helps the club cut through the sand and eliminates digging. Since it's so easy to escape from bunkers with the 588 RS, golfers will feel more confident when their ball ends up in the bunker. Benefits: As a game-improvement club, the 588 RS is designed for higher handicappers or folks who just can't get the hang of bunker play. What We Like: Its wide sole combined with its 60-degree loft. Lineup: CG11 BP, CG11, CG10, CG10 BP 588, 588 DSG, 588 RS, 588 GunMetal. Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast cavity back Clubs: 60_¡/8_¡ (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynalite steel (wedge) Cleveland 588 DSG (800) 999-6263 | $110 w-cleveland-588-dsg.jpgThe original 588 is still considered by most golfers and club designers to be the industry benchmark. However, Cleveland's R&D staff has been hard at work bringing the timeless design into the 21st century. Features: Arguably the most popular wedge shape of all time is left intact, but now features a unique Dynamic Sole Grind that's designed to allow the leading edge of the club to remain closer to the ground when the club is laid open at address. Advantages: Gives players greater versatility. Benefits: Accomplished players who demand the ability to open and close the clubface. What We Like: Innovative idea, same great design. Lineup: CG11 BP, CG11, CG10, CG10 BP 588, 588 DSG, 588 GunMetal Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 54_¡/12_¡ GW; 56_¡/14_¡, 58_¡/10_¡ SW; 60_¡/3_¡ LW (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (wedge); Cleveland graphite (wedge)

Cobra King Cobra C (800) 225-8500 | $79

w-cobra-ws.jpgDesigned to be both forgiving and versatile, with increased bounce and a widened sole for less digging into the turf and sand. A soft, vibration-absorbing urethane insert helps create the feel of a traditionally shaped blade-style wedge. Features: The King Cobra C is one of few perimeter-weighted new wedges on the market for players who crave extra control. Advantages: Short swings need forgiveness, too. Benefits: Solid performers for players who tend to struggle with excess digging on pitch shots. What We Like: Making a forgiving wedge that looks great is a tall order, but Cobra did a fine job. The price is desirable, too. Lineup: King Cobra C Clubhead: Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast cavity-back Size: Oversized Clubs: 50_¡/8_¡ PW; 52_¡/8_¡, 54_¡/9_¡ GW; 56_¡/11_¡, 56_¡/14_¡ SW; 58_¡/12_¡, 60_¡/8_¡ LW (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (S) Eidolon V-Sole (361) 983-4691 | $129

w-eidolon.jpgCheck out the brilliant dual-bounce sole, which gives golfers the option to significantly open or close the clubface without the club digging into or bouncing off the turf. Each groove is CNC-milled for increased levels of spin and greater face consistency. Features: The dual-bounce sole allows golfers to adjust trajectory without compromising bounce angles. Advantages: The sole near the trailing edge has almost no bounce so it lies flat whether the clubface is square, open or closed. Benefits: Better players will love the shotmaking versatility and the spin-inducing CNC-milled grooves. What We Like: The combination of looks and top-notch performance. Lineup: V-Sole Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Forged blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/18_¡ (3) GW; 56_¡/30_¡ (7) SW; 60_¡/25_¡ (6) LW (available LH) Shafts: Rifle Spinner steel (F, S)

F2 F2 Series Plus (800) 683-2390 | $99

F2 Series PlusF2 follows up their highly popular "face-forward" wedge with the f2 Plus. Features: The new f2 Plus series is 15-percent larger than the original f2 Series wedge, a feature that results in a larger sweet spot. Its hosel still sits more toward the rear of the sole, and its clubface protrudes toward the ball. Advantages: Its unique "face-forward" technology makes shanks a thing of the past. The f2 performs best when the clubface stays square, not opened. Benefits: Players who tend to shank or struggle with sand play will find the f2 to be a life-saving addition to their arsenal. What We Like: After adjusting to its unorthodox looks, we appreciated its advantages, especially from the sand. Lineup: f2 Series Plus, f2 Series Clubhead: 304 Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast cavity-back Size: Oversized Clubs: 52_¡/6_¡ GW; 56_¡/12_¡, 58_¡/14_¡ SW; 60_¡/8_¡ (available LH) Shafts: f2 Steel and Graphite (wedge) Infiniti IP-3 Pro (800) 253-6370 | $89

w-Infiniti-IP3-Pro.jpgThe Infinity IP-3 was conceived from the ground up and is constructed for better players. Features: A precision-milled flat face produces maximum spin and helps your ball check when it lands, "on the dance floor." Advantages: Three holes drilled in the toe provide feel and balance and its special heel grind allows you to open the clubface for shots that require touch. Benefits: Better players who crave touch, spin and versatility when playing from a variety of turf conditions. What We Like: Ours came with a red grip. We thought that was cool. The three holes on the back of the toe help balance the club very nicely. Lineup: AW Grind Wedge, IP-3 Pro Clubhead: 304 Steel Clubface: CNC Milled Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 51_¡/8_¡ GW; 56_¡/14_¡ SW; 60_¡/5_¡ L Shafts: True Temper Dynalite steel (wedge) For Golfers Only! DW-1 (951) 302-1200 | $89

w-don-wood.jpgFrom master equipment maker Don Wood comes the DW-1 wedges, featuring micro-abraded milled grooves that produce maximum spin rates without damaging the golf ball. The high-toe shape and minimal offset enhance versatility. Features: The Tour-like shape of the DW-1 is very inviting and easy to align at address. Advantages: Multiple loft/bounce combinations make finding the right wedge an easy task. Benefits: Neo-classic design for every player. What We Like: The grooves have tremendous bite, especially on the 64_¡ wedges. Lineup: DW-1, DW-1 Personal Grind Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 46_¡/4_¡, 46_¡/8_¡, 50_¡/6_¡, 50_¡/10_¡ PW; 52_¡/8_¡, 52_¡/12_¡, 54_¡/10_¡, 54_¡/14_¡ GW; 56_¡/8_¡, 56_¡/14_¡, 58_¡/10_¡, 58_¡/16_¡ SW; 60_¡/8_¡, 60_¡/16_¡, 64_¡/8_¡, 64_¡/16_¡ LW (available LH) Shafts: Several custom options available KZG Forged (800) 200-8800 | $89-$99

w-KZG-Forged.jpgThese KZG wedges are double-forged and handcrafted from super-soft S20C carbon steel. Features: Each wedge in the set is engineered with the ideal leading edge and sole grind. Advantages: The grind reduces turf drag and creates more efficient clubhead speed. These attractive wedges are finished with high-polish, nickel-chrome plating. Benefits: Any golfer who appreciates high-quality construction, design and materials should give the KZG Forged models a look. What We Like: The raw finish option, which allows the wedge to rust over time for a distinctive look and a slightly different feel. Lineup: Forged, Cast 9500 Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Double-forged blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/4_¡ GW; 56_¡/11_¡ SW; 60_¡/3_¡ LW (available LH) Shafts: KZG Tour steel (X, S, R); KZG Control Plus graphite (X, S, R, A, L)

Mizuno MP-R Wedges (800) 966-1211 | $120 Black Nickel:


w-Mizuno-MPR.jpgJoining the already successful MP-T series, the new MP-R wedges are aimed at players looking for minimal offset and a classic, round head shape. Features: Classic round head shape, patented Grain Flow Forged 1025E pure select mild carbon steel, Tour-inspired Workshop-Grind Sole, CNC Max-Milled square grooves for optimum spin, minimal offset. Advantages: Its "workshop grind" sole provides advanced playability. Benefits: Tour players dig the square grooves and minimal offset, while amateurs claim to like the black nickel finish. What We Like: We're all about choice, and the MP-R wedges give us just that. We can choose between two finishes: nickel or chrome. Lineup: MP-R series, MP-T series Clubhead: Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Forged blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡/7_¡, 54_¡/10_¡ GW; 56_¡/10_¡, 56_¡/13_¡, 58_¡/10_¡ SW; 60_¡/5_¡, 60_¡/9_¡ LW (52_¡/7_¡, 56_¡/13_¡, 60_¡/9_¡ (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (wedge)

Nickent ARC 888-NICKENT | $109 Nickel Chrome:

Gunmetal: w-Nickent-ARC.jpgA leading name in hybrids offers a high-tech wedge with enhanced feel. Features: An elastomer material placed directly behind the hitting area. The elastomer weighs significantly less than the surrounding steel, which allows for the creation of an internal cavity. According to Nickent, this is the only patented hidden perimeter weighting system in wedge design. Advantages: The ARC technology eliminates vibration at impact, creating a soft feel. Benefits: Anyone who likes a traditional blade wedge, but also wants an extra dose of hidden game improvement. What We Like: The hidden perimeter weighting system and the chrome or black finishes. Lineup: ARC Clubhead: Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 46_¡/8_¡, 48_¡/8_¡ PW; 52_¡/10_¡, 54_¡/10_¡ GW; 56_¡/12_¡, 58_¡/10_¡ SW; 60_¡/6_¡, 62_¡/3_¡ LW (48_¡, 52_¡, 56_¡, 60_¡ available LH) Shafts: Rifle Spinner steel (wedge)

Nike SV Tour (888) 799-NIKE | $89 w-Nike-SV-Tour.jpgLast year, four members of Nike's Tour Staff won tournaments using the SV Tour wedge. This year, maybe you will, too. Features: Its milled flat face provides consistency and a clean, pleasing look. Its profile, bounce and groove contours came about from feedback provided by Nike's Tour Staff. Advantages: Even though Tiger doesn't play it, it will attract a variety of players seeking an affordable performance wedge. Benefits: The 8620 steel face is super soft to help all skill levels score better. What We Like: The price. With a street price well under $100, the SV Tour is so affordable you might buy two. Lineup: Spin Velocity, TW, SV Tour Clubhead: 8620 Carbon steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast blade Size: Standard Clubs: 50_¡/10_¡, 52_¡/10_¡, 54_¡/12_¡ GW; 56_¡/10_¡, 56_¡/14_¡, 58_¡/10_¡ SW; 60_¡/6_¡, 60_¡/10_¡ LW; (52_¡/10_¡, 56_¡/14_¡, 60_¡/10_¡ available LH) Shafts: Dynamic Gold steel (S) PING Tour Black Nickel (800) 4-PING-FIT | $125-$150 w-ping-tour-black-nickel.jpgThe Tour wedge from PING gets a muted, black-nickel makeover, but retains the same playing attributes that made the Tour wedge a popular addition to many golf bags. Features: A slightly smaller head size and a ferrule for a traditional look. These wedges retain Tour-tested capabilities melded with playability. Advantages: Variable bounce angles and machined U-grooves enable customized control. The slight offset and small cavity make for shotmaking versatility. Benefits: Tour professionals dig the clean, traditional look, and casual golfers will like the forgiveness. What We Like: The custom fitting, the looks, the performance–we like it all. Lineup: Tour, Tour Black Nickel, PING Wedge Clubhead: Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast cavity-blade Size: Standard Clubs: 52_¡, 54_¡ GW; 56_¡, 58_¡ SW; 60_¡ LW (available LH) Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold steel (X, S), PING CS Lite steel (S, R), PING Z-Z65 Steel (S); PING TFC 100i graphite (S, R, A) PING iWedge (800) 4-PING-FIT | $99 w-Ping-iWedge.jpgMuch like the extremely popular PING Eye 2 wedge, the new PING iWedge combines playability, forgiveness and feel. Features: PING's "sand cup" design; a deep multi-layer cavity maximizes forgiveness and positions the center of gravity toward the center of the face for a low, solid feel. Vibration dampening is a plus. Advantages: The center of gravity positioned toward the center. Benefits: The iWedge's "sand cup" design positions the pivot point farther from the lead edge for more consistent distance control. What We Like: The nod to PING's classic Eye 2 sand wedge, not to mention the iWedge's extreme forgiveness. Lineup: PING iWedge, PING Tour, PING Tour Black Nickel Clubhead: Stainless steel Clubface: Same Design: Cast cavity-back Size: Standard Clubs: 50_¡/11_¡, 52_¡/11.5_¡, 54_¡/12_¡ GW; 56_¡/13_¡, 58_¡/11.5_¡ SW; 60_¡/12.5_¡ LW (avail. LH) Shafts: PING CS Lite (S,R), TT Dynamic Gold steel (X, S), Z-Z65 steel (S), TFC100i/909i graphite (S, R, A) Purespin PS-3 (888) 882-1580 | $60 w-Purespin-PS-3.jpgThe PS-3 features three weight ports that allow golfers to customize feel and perimeter-weighting characteristics based on personal preference. Features: The classic shape and weight maneuverability make the PS-3 among the most unique wedges on the market. Advantages: Weight kits and customization aside, PureSpin's Diamond Face delivers serious spin for all skill levels. Benefits: All players can take advantage of four-way cambered sole for

Leave a Reply