Pros: The “knuckles” on the back of Miura’s K Grind wedge makes them some of the coolest looking wedges on the market. Like all Miura wedges, they’re hand ground from carbon steel, and the K Grind seems to do what Miura says it does — keep the wedge moving cleanly through bad lies and sand.
Cons: Only available for righties in three lofts — 52, 56 and 60. Their cost, $275 each, makes them some of the priciest wedges in golf.
Bottom Line: Golfers will be attracted to Miura’s K Grind wedges for their distinctive appearance, but after hitting them they will likely be more impressed with the their ability to cut through thick sand and deep rough.
The K Grind was initially discovered in prototype form by Miura’s Vice President of Product Strategies, Bill Holowaty, who spotted the distinctive wedge during one of his visits to Himeji, Japan. He asked Katsuhiro Miura (the founder of Miura and the “K” in K Grind), “Why aren’t we making this?”
According to Holowaty, Miura is not the first company to create a wedge with the K Grind’s flutes in the rear portion of the sole, but he said that Mr. Miura is likely the first to perfect it.
The K Grind was initially offered as a part of Miura’s limited-edition Series 1957 lineup in a 56-degrees model. Due to the popular demand, however, Miura recently decided to release a 52- and 60-degree model.
The wedge’s distinctive flutes (knuckle-sized channels on the back of the sole) were designed to reduce the resistance when the wedge moves through sand, rough and even a nice fairway lie. The channels move material underneath the sole, allowing golfers to get better contact no matter what lie they’re hitting from.
On paper, the Miura’s K Grind wedges are moderate-to-high bounce wedges with quite a bit of camber — the 52-degree wedge has 7 degrees of bounce, the 56-degree has 12 and the 60-degree has 13. But their aggressive trailing edge grinds means that they play like wedges that have less bounce, and shine from nasty lies and the sand because of their distinctive fluted soles.
The three lofts can easily be bent a degree or two in either direction with no real detriment to the club’s performance, which is nice considering that many players may not play the three lofts offered.
As with all Miura clubs, the K Grind is offered at official Miura dealers. The wedges costs $275 with a standard steel shaft. Additional cost may be added if upgraded shafts are requested.
I’ve used Miura’s K Grind 56-degree wedge in the past, so I expected that a 60-degree model would play well for me. But I wasn’t so sure about the 52-degree, a club I rarely use from inside 100 yards.
All of the wedges have a gentle teardrop shape — round at the toe, but not too much. The sole grind, as you stare at the head from the heel, has a gentle leading edge and a more aggressive trailing edge grind. The heel grind is also shaped nicely, and although it doesn’t have as much relief as some other models on the market I found that I was easily able to pull off the opened-face shots I wanted to hit with it.
It was interesting to me that I didn’t have to open up the wedges as much as some others I’ve used because of the wedge’s flutes. It seemed that they kept the wedge from wanting to turn over on shots from the sand and rough, which allowed for a higher, softer flight. I’ve studied grinds so much through the years and no other wedge has left me so fascinated. I can feel the energy that Mr. Miura put into each head as I look at his work.
The spin also seemed to be greater than other Miura wedges I’ve used because I felt that I contacted “more of the ball” on partial shots. That made me feel fearless out of the sand, and like a magician in the rough.
If you look at the sole, you’ll see that about 50 percent of the trailing edge does not touch the ground. That gives the club a narrower “effective sole width,” which is like having a sharper knife — it cuts through the grass and sand much easier than wedges with wider soles. For those of you worried about digging, the K Grind also has a rounded leading edge and more camber than other Miura wedge models, which helps keep the club sliding along the grass instead of sticking in the turf.
Maybe the best part of the K Grind was its performance from the bunkers. Balls are easily lofted out with the K Grind’s “knuckles,” which act like a rudder through the sand. I found myself actually attacking the pin more as the ball got out so easily and came to a quicker stop.
Trajectory on opened shots from turf made me think I could pull off flop shots from everywhere. Therein lies the danger in the wedge, however. The 60-degree K Grind slides so easily under the ball that you will have to practice opened-faced shots a bit to get the feel of how far the ball will fly.
Although I had my doubts about how well the 52 would work on full shots, I was impressed with how cleanly the sole brushed through the grass. It appeared that the lack of restriction from the turf allowed me to get much better contact on the ball, imparting much greater spin than I had with my last Miura wedge set, the New Wedge Series (click here to read my full review).
The New Wedge Series are Miura’s traditionally shaped wedge designs, which are the company’s lowest-bounce wedges. I found my shots with the K Grind wedges to be even more crisp from the fairway than the New Wedge Series, likely because of the increased bounce and camber. And the extra spin I got from the flutes was particularly noticeable from the first cut of rough at 100 yards.
Looks and Feel
The satin finish on all Miura clubs has always been a thing of beauty to me. The same satin finish on the K Grinds continues to leave me in awe. It’s tough to look at something so gorgeous for the first time and know that its future will be slamming into the turf, sand, hardpan and dirt. It’s something that you have to get over quickly knowing it’s a tool that will help your game, but that still doesn’t make it an easy task.
The flutes on the trailing edges catch your eyes immediately. The questions never cease from people who see it for the first time.
“Does it work?” “What’s it for?”
I never tire of answering those questions. Sometime I feel like an infomercial giving much more information than the questioner wanted, but I truly rave about the K Grinds in person.
When I got my first 56-degree K Grind, I remember sticking my finger tips in the flutes and gripping the head. I did it again when I received the 52 and 60 degree heads. I eyed the light mill marks in the cavity of the flutes and marveled at the way the head reflected the light in a soft silvery glow. The simple stampings on the back of the head took nothing away from the beauty of the grind, and their placement and style screamed something special to me.
The feel, like pretty much every other Miura club, was magical — the K Grinds will make driving range rocks feel softer. No matter the shot I was playing, the feel was was very consistent and provided great feedback when I didn’t catch it quite right.
Miura listened to many of us loyal fans and finally put into production what we had been asking for in the past years. They not only produced beautiful wedges in added lofts, but wedges that actually work well with the K Grind.
Although K Grind wedges should not be confused with traditional game-improvement wedges, the sole grind allowed me some wiggle room on shots – I could make mistakes, but the wedge would still let me get to the ball. I’m not saying you can chunk a chip and still hit a good shot, but a slight miss for me is still better than other wedges without the K Grind.
If you’re a golfer with a more aggressive angle of attack, consider Miura’s C Grind wedges, which are available in 55-, 57- and 59-degree models. They have more bounce, but like the K Grinds they have rolled leading and trailing edges that make them play with a little less effective bounce. They also have more heel and toe relief than the K Grinds, which might be better for golfers who like to play the club very opened or sit it on its toe for chip shots.
A special thanks to Mr. Miura for his deep appreciation for the users of his clubs and for his commitment to designing clubs for players who expect the very best.
2018 GolfWRX Men’s Spring Fashion Shoot
As promised by our Resident Fashion Consultant Jordan Madley in the 2018 Women’s Spring fashion shoot, below is some much-needed fashion love for the guys.
GolfWRX was on location in Las Vegas at the UNLV college campus where our Director of Content Johnny Wunder went full Zoolander to model the following golf apparel companies:
Also, many thanks to the folks at the UNLV PGA Golf Management program for hosting us!
We look forward to any and all feedback, and your thoughts about the apparel we chose to feature.
Golf polos with bold patterns: A quick chat with Bad Birdie golf
Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Bad Birdie golf produces some of the most eye-popping polos ever seen on a fairway.
The company’s brazen ambition to “make the most savage golf polos in the world” and its boisterous presence on social media belies an attention to detail and careful pattern curation. It’s easy to make loud, obnoxious clothing. It’s more challenging to produce something that’s at once bold, stylish, appropriately fitted and of high quality. But that is what Jason Richardson’s company has tried to do since entering the market.
I spoke with Richardson about his eye-catching wares.
Before we get into your Bad Birdie offerings, tell me your take on the state of golf wear when you decided to enter the market?
JR: I went shopping for a polo for an upcoming tournament and was hoping to find something a little flashier/fun. I got bummed out when I realized most of the golf polos were generally the same colors/patterns. Solid pastels or stripes weren’t necessarily what I was going for, so I did some research online.
After looking at anything I could find, I realized that most golf polos are almost identical to each other. The only thing that’s really different is the branding or tech fabric. There’s a couple brands making a few edgier patterns but they still have a middle-aged, Tommy Bahama feel that’s not necessarily relevant to the younger golfer.
So building on that, what was the opportunity you saw?
JR: I saw an opportunity to make polos for the younger/trendier/bolder golfer whose style doesn’t fit into the traditional golf trends of pastels and stripes. We have a saying we use on some of our ads: “Your dad called and wants his polo back.” Most young/millennial guys who love golf are having to get their apparel from the same place their dad does. Bad Birdie sees an opportunity to fix that.
Cool. What’s your background in golf?
JR: I’ve worked in golf for a lot of my life. I started caddying when I was 12 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, AZ, during the summers, so learned the game while working. During high school, I worked for an eBay store that sold golf shafts that were left over from all the club fitters in Scottsdale. After college and before starting Bad Birdie I worked in advertising.
What’s Bad Birdie’s competitive advantage?
JR: There’s no other brands making performance golf polos with styles like we do. Our team is in their 20s and early 30s so we’re right in our target demographic and have a great network of friends/golfers we can bounce ideas off of. Being based in Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either, as we see a lot of the new fashion trends first.
Who’s your target consumer, and what has the response been like?
JR: 18-35-year-old males (and their significant others who buy Bad Birdie as gifts). The number one customer email we get is guys telling us how surprised they were by the number of compliments they got while wearing their Bad Birdie. Love getting those.
Any upcoming releases, plans we should know about?
JR: We have some new polos dropping in July you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Who’s the best-dressed golfer on the PGA Tour?
JR: Until someone is wearing a Bad Birdie it’s tough to say.
Check out Bad Birdie’s wares here, or check them out @badbirdiegolf on Twitter.
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
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