The first thing that you notice about SCOR Golf is that these folks are serious about doing something different with what they call the “scoring clubs” (traditionally known as wedges).
Terry Koehler, the founder, club designer and chief philosopher of SCOR, saw all the advancements in drivers, woods, hybrids, irons and putters, but didn’t see the same focus on the short end of the set. In his estimation, the clubs that golfers use from within 130 yards are where all of a golfer’s scoring is done. He said that the time has come to put golfers closer to the cup from 130 yards so that they can shave strokes and lower their scores. And, you know what? After testing out their clubs: I agree. I made several tough shots using my “SCOR-ing” clubs, and scored well.
The first step in getting a hold of these babies is to visit SCOR’s website. There, golfers can go through a 10-to-15 minute questionnaire that provides the SCOR team with all of the info it needs to both suggest and build a custom set of wedges…errr scoring clubs, that fit a golfer’s needs.
In my case, I started playing graphite shafts in my irons several years ago and had fallen in love with the feel. However, my wedges were the last clubs in my bag that still have steel shafts. I carried a true Frankenstein set of three different wedges from three different manufacturers representing my sand wedge (56 degrees), gap wedge (51 degrees) and pitching wedge (48 degrees).
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Koehler said that my hodgepodge of wedges was doing my game a disservice, and he explained that the different types of wedges caused me to need three slightly different swings to match the different swing weights. First and foremost, he told me I needed to get some stability with these clubs. I carry a 6.6 index, and admit that wedge play is truly the weakest part of my game.
Koehler suggested building me a set of clubs that matched my current set of irons. So, SCOR built five clubs all with graphite shafts. Since I currently use 90-gram graphite shafts in my irons, Koehler suggested the company’s 90-gram Genius 9 shafts, made for them by UST Mamiya. The clubs built included a 44-degree (to replace my 9 iron — I begged him not to!), a 48-degree (PW), a 52-degree (GW), a 56-degree (SW) and a 60-degree (LW).
After I spoke with Koehler, I was promptly provided tracking info and the shipping was quick. I was stoked to come home and see that the “Shipping Santa” had left a beautiful box of clubs all snuggled up on my doorstep. The box was smaller than expected, and inside the clubs were laid out comfortably and neatly tucked into foam and separated from one another. The presentation was top-notch and really made me feel like I was staring at a truly custom set of sticks.
The first thing that struck me was how compact the heads looked. I am used to large, clunky heads on my wedges, and was pleasantly surprised with how closely the heads resembled player’s irons. The shaft weight felt perfect in my hand, and I loved seeing the custom-made grips that include two circles on the lower part of the grip designed as “reminders” for choking up when trying different types of shots.
I love this about SCOR: The company genuinely wants its customers to experiment with different types of shots to help them hone their skills. Also in the box was a SCOR bag tag designed to allow golfers to make notes about the results of their different types of shots: choked-up, stance-open, stance-square, full-swing, etc. This card came in handy on the range (read on).
Above: SCOR wedges come in one standard grind (SCOR’s V Grind), which company founder Terry Koehler said can work for just about any golfer from any lie.
I raced out to the driving range the following day with five brand new clubs in my hands. I took my practice swings and was immediately struck by how much my new clubs felt like my current set of irons. It was the shafts.
The fact that Koehler took the time to make sure that the shafts in the SCOR clubs matched my set of irons is a cornerstone of their philosophy. Koehler said that he doesn’t want his customers to need a different swing for every club in their bag. He believes in a philosophy of consistency with golf equipment, which allows the target to be focus, not the swing.
I launched crisp shot after crisp shot with just a few shots that ballooned on me. The ones that did balloon were slightly weaker and flared right. But, when I felt my swing dialed in, the shot trajectory was slightly lower than I am used to. That built my confidence, as I felt the shots were tracking nicely at my target. With range balls, there didn’t seem to be much bite when my shots landed, but I knew the real test of spin would come in game conditions.
Next, I began experimenting as SCOR suggests their customers do with their clubs — I tried a variety of different shots to see if each wedge was up to the challenge. Lastly, I decided to exit my “comfort zone” and instead of picking my shots clean as I usually do, I experimented with hitting down on the ball a bit steeper. I knew that it was more practical for me to work on “picking” my shots — it’s just the way my swing works — but I was pleased to find that when I needed to hit down steeply on a shot, as I’m often forced to do from bad lies, the SCOR sole design could handle it.
According to Koehler, the main part of SCOR’s “V Sole” is considered to be low bounce by today’s standards — it has 3 to 7 degrees of bounce. But front quadrant of the sole is high bounce to prevent digging for golfers with steep angles of attack and/or those who play on courses with soft conditions.
Once the practice session was done, I made some notes on my “SCOR card” with my results and I headed to the course armed with my five new weapons ready for some destruction!
Above: Scor’s lower-lofted clubs have more perimeter weighting to help golfers with forgiveness on off-center shots, while the higher-lofted clubs have more weight behind the sweet spot for more control.
My first shot in competition came from a sandy-pebbly desert lie where I had pulled my drive left on relatively tame 380-yard par 4. I had 120 yards with some wind in my face, which convinced me to hit a choked-up 9-iron. Since the 44-degree SCOR iron was my 9-iron for the day, I had no choice but to break in the new club. I hit a perfect shot to within 10 feet (and missed the putt). The first test had been passed: tough lie, tough shot, but SCOR came through. Due to the lie, I didn’t notice that much spin when the ball landed.
On the next hole, I executed a picture-perfect pitching wedge from 120 yards. I used the 48 degree and this time, the ball bit just long of the hole, but with a little “tour juice.” With the assist of a back-to-front sloped green, the ball spun backwards about 15 feet to just under the pin giving me a good look for birdie, which I did drop. That was a big test passed for me, as I usually have a bit more trouble from what seems like such an ideal yardage for many players.
I really liked lower ball flight that the pitching wedge produced — Koehler said it’s thanks to the company’s SGC3 weighting, which positions the center of gravity higher in the head to drive the ball lower and with more spin. That weighting works together with SCOR’s CNC milled grooved and faces to provide the zip many golfers like me crave.
Later in the round, I used the 56-degree for a greenside chip that got me up-and-down for par. The ball checked nicely from the less-than-perfect lie, and at impact it felt like the ball stayed on the face for a very long time.
But I didn’t hit all my shots perfect. My next opportunity came on a par-5 from 112 yards. I chose the 52-degree and choked up slightly. I didn’t put my best swing on it and ended up about 25 feet short, which I two-putted for par. I blame myself, as “a craftsman doesn’t blame the tools.” The second test was passed — despite my mis-hit, I still finished with par.
The highlight of the day came on No. 16, a critical par 3 where my opponent and I were vying for the “three-pars-in-a-row” coin (you “ka-ching” players know exactly what I’m talking about!). My opponent landed in water (and got a coin for his troubles), while I landed in a greenside bunker. The bunker had a steep lip, and I was short-sided. I took out the 60 degree and landed one of the nicest sand shots in recent memory, leading to a critical up-and-down and more importantly, sole ownership of the coveted coin.
At the end of the round, I found that I didn’t feel I skipped a beat with the clubs. Shot after shot felt crisp, controlled and comfortable. I finished right around my expectation and deemed it a successful run with the new clubs considering how hard it can be to incorporate one new club into the bag for a round, let alone five!
Above: SCOR clubs are cast from 8620 carbon steel, but before polishing they are heated to more than 1000 degrees and put into a forging tool, where they are hit with an 800-ton forging press. According to SCOR, the process better aligns the club’s molecules, making the club heads denser and providing a better feel.
I believe that over a short amount of time, SCOR’s clubs will reduce my handicap and allow me to hit a wide variety of shots from about 130 yards and in. My thanks go out to the fine folks at SCOR, and I recommend that you give these a shot to join your bag.