Friday, March 19, 2010
2010 Buyer's Guide Wedges
New groove rules mean new innovations in wedge technology
|Scratch Tour Custom
Key Feature: Depending on your personal taste, Scratch can custom-build you a Japan-forged wedge with your preferred head shape, sole grind, finish, shaft, etc.
What We Like: Each wedge head is a work of art. Aside from their custom dept., there are five models to choose from, each with unique attributes.
Who It’s For: Golfers who want a premium wedge made with surgical-like precision for total short-game control.
Specs: Comes in a variety of shapes and sole grinds, as well as custom options.
scratchgolf.com | Custom Order
Key Feature: U-grooves whose sidewall angle has been reduced by 75 percent, increasing the total groove volume, allowing dirt and grass to channel away from the clubface. If these wedges don’t help you stick the pin, nuthin’ will.
What We Like: The classic shape and soft carbon steel from which it’s constructed. That results in tons of spin.
Who It’s For: It comes in seven different loft/bounce configurations. There’s a WG-706 for everyone.
Specs: Comes in six lofts (50°-60°) with True Temper DG shafts.
srixon.com | $169
|Taylormade TP xFT
Key Feature: You can quickly and easily change the clubface, alternating between aggressive and nonaggressive grooves. Or just swap out when the face wears down to keep face roughness fresh.
What We Like: The thin urethane layer behind the clubface yields an amazingly soft feel, even on full shots.
Who It’s For: Anyone who wants to keep the wedge for a long time while having the ability to freshen up the face.
Specs: Available in lofts of 52°, 54°, 56°, 58°, 60° and 64° with DG steel shafts.
taylormadegolf.com | $129
|Titleist Spin Milled Tour Chrome
Key Feature: The profile has been precisely created using CAD to blend the size, shape, topline thickness and offset from loft to loft. Face and Spin Milled grooves are CNC machine cut.
What We Like: What’s not to like? They look timeless and perform consistently.
Who It’s For: Everyone. The C-C model is for those who need to abide by the new groove rules.
Specs: 48°, 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58°, 60°, 62° and 64°, in three bounce options, three finishes, two groove types and choice of grind.
titleist.com | $130
|Exotics Xtreme Spin Tour
Key Feature: A milled 1.5mm-thin forged face is backed by a core that’s filled with a thermal plastic elastomer.
What We Like: A removable weight screw in the back allows you to adjust the swing weight to your preferred feel, weight and performance. Not to mention it’s easier and more consistent to use than lead tape. We also liked the way this wedge felt on full swings. Soft and buttery, to say the least.
Who It’s For: All player types.
Specs: Available in 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58° and 60°, in various bounce options.
touredge.com | $129
Key Feature: Aggressive Tour-milled grooves produce shot-stopping spin.
What We Like: The elastomeric coating in the milled recessed areas on the rear translates to a softer impact across the entire face. It’s also among the most technologically driven wedges we’ve seen, and one of the best looking, too.
Who It’s For: Golfers looking for a midpriced alternative to other popular wedge brands.
Specs: Available in 48°, 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58° and 60°, in two finishes, with True Temper DG steel.
wilsongolf.com | $129
What does 2010 mean for you as far as grooves are concerned? It depends. If you play on the PGA Tour and/or compete in USGA events that choose to adopt the new Conditions of Competition, the rules stipulate that all competitors must play with irons and wedges that meet the latest standard in groove changes. This means, the current groove guidelines are less sharp and grabby, making it more difficult to spin the ball (from the rough, as the USGA mostly alludes to). The USGA feels this dulling down of groove edges will affect the better player to a greater degree than the average player, but we don’t agree with that entirely. We amateurs for the most part appreciate any spin we can get around the greens. With grooves that aren’t as sharp as they used to be, the new rules certainly aren’t going to help us either.
But all these groove rules (with exception to the PGA Tour) are down the road anyway, right? Well, not really. Check this out. As mentioned twice already, the 2010 USGA groove rules affect PGA Tour players starting this year. This also includes the U.S. Open, Senior U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, starting at sectional qualifying (final stage) for all three events. In 2011, all qualifying rounds (including local qualifiers) will have to abide by the new groove rules. If those events still are out of your league, consider that in 2014, all USGA events will require top-level players to abide by the new groove rules. This includes the U.S. Amateur, state and local events. For the rest of us who don’t play in USGA events and/or those who post handicap rounds, we have until 2024 to keep using pre-2010 groove wedges and irons.
Is it confusing? You bet. Some companies still are churning wedges with pre-2010 grooves (they have until the end of the year to do it), usually designated as “aggressive” or “not Condition of Competition conforming.” But in most cases, new wedge models do, in fact, conform to 2010 groove rules. As far as the effect of the groove rules, one thing is for sure. Nobody using clubs with the new groove standard is going to increase spin rates with their iron and wedge shots without either switching golf balls, changing their swing or being forced to hit more fairways.
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