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Review: Titleist Vokey SM5 Wedges

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Pros: Vokey leads the way with 21 different loft, bounce and grind combinations, three different finishes and personalization programs that allows golfers to create a wedge that suits their games and personalities. The new specialized TX3 grooves add extra spin from around the green and more distance control from bad lies.

Cons: With vast loft, grind and bounce options, the selection process can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s best to be fit by a professional. The SM5’s are cast from 8620 carbon steel, which isn’t a problem unless you’re a forged wedge snob.

Bottom Line: The SM5’s will appeal to the majority of golfers no matter what they seek from a new wedge. Better players will benefit from the spin control and versatility around the greens, club junkies will love the customization options and selection of grinds and the average or below average players will greatly improve if they select the correct a loft, grind and bounce that fits their swing. No one gets left out in this line of Vokey wedges.

Overview

With the help of his team of wedge designers and feedback from Titleist tour professionals, Bob Vokey has made significant improvements with his fifth generation of Spin Milled wedges. The most notable change in the SM5’s is the introduction of new grinds and finishes. Six different sole grinds (L, T, S, M, F and K), lofts that range from 46-to-62 degrees in two-degree increments and three different finishes — Gold Nickel, Raw Black and Tour Chrome — allow for dozens of different wedge possibilities.

Different sole grinds are categorized based on low, mid and high-bounce options. The always popular S grind is now available in 54- and 56-degree models, and Vokey’s K Grind wedges, which were once only available through Vokey’s WedgeWorks, have been added to the retail line in lofts of 58 and 60 degrees. The SM5 K Grind wedges are a little different than the WedgeWorks models, however, with slightly wider soles that have a little more bounce than the TVD-K’s.

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Another crucial change in the SM5’s is the introduction of the TX3 grooves, which have a 7 percent larger volume than the grooves in the SM4 wedges. In wedges with lofts of 48-to-54 degrees, the grooves are narrower and deeper than the previous generation and work to better fend off grass and sand through impact. The grooves in 56-to-62 degree wedges maintain the same width as the SM4 grooves, but they’re 7 percent deeper, adding spin and control.

The deeper grooves combine with an improved face texture that begins with a double fly cut face, and they’re finished with machine milled micro edges that reach the maximum limit of conforming face friction. The process allows for consistent spin on partial shots into the green.

Each wedge is also subjected to heat treatment on the face, which increases durability and prevents loss of spin through wear and tear of the grooves. And before Vokey wedges leave the factory, a digital stylus reads each and every one of a Vokey SM5 wedge’s grooves to make sure that they meet the company’s tolerances. That allows the company to get its groove sizes much closer to the USGA limit without going over, says Vokey Marketing Manager David Neville.

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Titleist SM5 wedges can be personally customized with stamping, shafts, grips, ferrules, paint fill and laser etching for an additional charge. Vokey can also increase or decrease swing weight up to two points. 

The added models in the new SM5 wedge line brings the general public closer to Vokey’s WedgeWorks and Hand Ground experiences as well. Hand Ground wedges were added to Vokey’s lineup in 2013 to appease a golfer’s every preference — nearly unlimited stamping, paint fill and shaping options — and they are hand ground and finished in Vokey’s Tour Department by the same craftsman who build wedges for Titleist’s Tour Staff. Hand ground wedges sell for $350, while each Titleist SM5 wedge sells for $145.

Vokey SM5 wedges come stock with True Temper’s Dynamic Gold S200 shaft (wedge flex) and an exclusive “Vokey Wings” grip made by Golf Pride from its Tour Velvet 60 round model.

Performance

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For this review, I tested three different SM5 wedges with the following sole grinds and finishes:

  • 52-08 (F Grind) in Tour Chrome
  • 56-10 (M Grind) in Gold Nickel
  • 60-11 (K Grind) in Raw Black

As a player with a naturally steeper angle of attack, I opted for higher bounce when given the option. I also tested the wedges in Hawaii, which tends to have slightly softer and wetter turf. I will go through the performance of each wedge separately, since they all produced unique results.

The 52-08 (F Grind) produced a wonderfully flat trajectory on full and partial shots, piercing through the wind on knock down shots with full control. The ball never floated and kept its line tightly. Distance control was easy to dial in from the fairway, even on slight mishits. Although the ball came off with more spin than I’m used to (I currently game SM4 52-08, 56-11 and 60-07 wedges), the ball was not ripping back, but rather settling nicely after it landed due to the low trajectory. From the rough, very little was lost with yardage control, and shots retained ample spin on mishits.

Although I don’t often use a 52-degree wedge for chipping and pitching, the F Grind worked well for lower, running shots. The sole resisted digging, but it still allowed me to slide under the ball from tight lies and add plenty of check when I needed it.

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The 56-10 (M Grind) was the combination of grind and bounce that I personally found to be most versatile, and really highlighted the improvements in the SM5 line. For the golfer who likes to play a lower, one-hop-stop style of shot, this wedge is ideal. The deeper grooves really grip the ball on square-face shots, and the wedge was even more impressive when I opened the face for higher, softer shots. Even from the thickest, nastiest lies, I found I could get the ball to stop within a reasonable distance.

Although I usually play bunker shots with a 60-degree, I found the 56-10 to be a perfectly fine option from greenside bunkers. On full and partial shots, it tended to launch the ball higher and with more spin than I anticipated, a great thing for golfers who are seeking more stopping power. Attacking tucked pins, hitting over trees or playing from poor lies proved to be less difficult than it should have been with this wedge.

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Lastly is the 60-11 K Grind, which has more camber than any lob wedge I’ve used in the past. That’s why this wedge took some practice. At first, I was mis-using the sole, which gave me fits in my first few practice sessions. However, after working with it and getting used to the grind, this wedge produced eye-openingly soft shots. I had to let the sole work naturally rather than try to force it to work. When I did that, the sole played unbelievably forgiving. Shots from the fairway and rough came off the face soft and landed delicately.

I’m a high-speed player, so I shied away from hitting full shots with the club. I’m known to balloon shots from more than 70 yards, and unless the greens are firm, the ball tends to spin back much too much from where it lands. The aggressive grooves in the SM5 wedges made this problem worse, but spin around the greens is what I desire most from a lob wedge, and there it delivered. I also found that the 60-11 simplified my short game, as the K Grind allowed me to hit high, soft shots without having to open the face as much as other 60-degree wedges. That led to more consistent contact and less flop shots, which are both good for my score.

Out from the bunker, don’t expect much roll out with an SM5 lob wedge. The 60-11 K Grind stops where it lands, to the point where I found myself making sure that I flew my bunker shots all the way to the hole. Who doesn’t want that?

Looks and Feel

The first choice to be made when a golfer is choosing from the new SM5 lineup is what finishes to choose. I will not attempt to influence your liking, but will rather pass along my own.

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The Gold Nickel finish is double-plated, which keeps the wedge from rusting. I personally like wedges that rust, but the Gold Nickel finish is soft enough and durable enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to put three of them in my bag.

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The Tour Chrome, which is actually a nickel-chrome finish, is a little brighter and more reflective than the company’s previous Tour Chrome finishes that had a “milkier” look. The added brightness gives the wedges a little extra “bling” in the bag, but it doesn’t add any glare at address thanks to the dark face blast that kills reflectivity and can help alignment.

A long-standing myth among many golfers is that wedges with finishes such as Gold Nickel and Tour Chrome create less spin than “raw” wedges, which don’t have a finish. What they don’t know is that such finishes are about one-third the thickness of a human hair, don’t affect spin and actually serve to prolong the sharpness of a wedge’s grooves over time.

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The Raw Black finish, which was my favorite, works well with customization due to the contrast of gold and white lettering on the black base. It is so dark that the grooves can hardly be deciphered from the face, but that only adds to its stealthy look.

The back of the wedges allow plenty of room for stamping and customization, but still looks good “naked.” The color scheme of white, gold and black works well and provides a clean, sophisticated look. While the high impact areas of the wedge such as the face and sole will wear to a silver color with use, the Raw Black finish on the back of the wedge should remain intact.

The overall visual changes Vokey made to the head shape are pleasing to the eye when looking down at address as well. The taller heel combined with a rounded, higher-peaked toe gives the SM5’s a compact, balanced look. It keeps the typical tear drop shape, but it will appear shorter from heel to toe than the SM4’s.

Although the club is cast from carbon steel, most golfers (not GolfWRXers of course) assume that Vokey wedges are forged. That’s because even though they’re cast, the 8620 carbon steel from which they’re cast feels soft and solid at contact.

The Takeaway

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The improvements that Bob Vokey and his team made with the SM5 line make the wedges suitable for nearly any golfer. The specialized TX3 grooves are noticeably more consistent, and the increased fitting options mean that better players will likely be able to find a wedge that adds shots to their arsenal. Less-skilled players will also have a better chance of finding a wedge with a sole grind that fits their swing type and forgives their bad habits.

Be sure to get help from your local club fitter in order to properly fit yourself in a Titleist SM5 wedge, and don’t forget about Vokey’s affordable customization options. Nothing is cooler than getting up and down with a wedge that has your initials stamped all over it!

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.titleist.com/golf-clubs/wedges/sm5.aspx” oemtext=”Learn more from Titleist” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IF3T29E/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00IF3T29E&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=2I64FDMH5TLWPBML”]

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team while earning a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Greg

    Apr 10, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    The SM5 feels better than the SM4 BUT what about the MP-T4??? I’m going this weekend to get new wedges. Thanks, Greg

  2. Cmasty

    Apr 8, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Hopefully AT paid for the wedges he reviewed or the NCAA might have something to say.

  3. Gary Lewis

    Apr 7, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I like the Vokey SM5 pretty well, and have two, a 56.14 with the F grind and a 60.07 with the S grind. Pretty good feel, good performance and they will probably sell gazillions of them. I also have some Cally Mack Daddy 2 wedges (with the Project X Flighted 95 shaft at NO upcharge) and I like the feel and performance of the Mack Daddy 2 wedges better than the SM5, with a pretty big difference in feel. The spin seems pretty comparable between the two. I think the Mack Daddy 2 grooves are going to be more durable than the SM5 (the face pattern of the Mack Daddy 2 will wear off quickly but the grooves should last relatively well). The shape of the Mack Daddy is a little different but easy to get used to. The Vokey SM5 is a nice club but people should also check out the Mack Daddy 2.

  4. prairegolfer

    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Nice review. Nothing will spin like a 2009 Vokey, original Mac Daddy groove or Nike Hi Rev, but these new models finally might be getting closer to the old square grooves. I think the worst wedges ever produced were from 2010 and 2011 as all companies had to react to the new rule. I think all the companies are finding ways to push the limit on the new rule and I believe all the 2014 wedges will be remarkably better than previous product. This review is in line with what I expected and what other reviews say about other 2014 new wedge lines. Thanks for another good review!

  5. Jeff

    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    These aren’t that great. Played them for years and switched to Miura’s and never looked back. No comparison really. Only people who think miura’s are “overrated” are either those who have never hit a set or those who are jealous. Very simple.

    • Dave Gebhardt

      Mar 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

      How could you have played these for years? They were reased less than a week ago (to the public). Appear to be nothing more than a contrarian.

      • Jeff

        Mar 28, 2014 at 9:14 am

        I’ve played the Vokey’s. Practtically every year a new model comes out. These will be replaced next year. You don’t replace a “5-star” club each year. This is all marketing.

        • David Smith

          Aug 28, 2014 at 2:06 pm

          Huh? Most people change wedges every 8 months to a year, it’s only natural that people get new ones every year…. what’s the big deal? they’re only 130 per wedge, thats peanuts.

    • rixirox

      Mar 29, 2014 at 11:35 am

      I beg your pardon. I have been playing Bob Vokey’s wedges for one season. My game has improved remarkably with vokey wedges. In one season, I have holed out twice and hit the pin twice with my Vokeys. They just work for me, but so do all the other Titleist clubs in my bag.

      FYI: The SM5’s were just now released for the 2014 market.

    • Rob

      Apr 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I currently play a combo set of Miura 501 and Miura Tournament blades and used to have the Miura 1957 wedges. I think it’s fair to say I’ve hit Miura clubs and I am not jealous. For my game, I much prefer the shape and grind of the Vokey wedges. The Miuras might work better for your game but it really isn’t that “simple”. Just because something is more expensive/exclusive does not mean it will perform best.

  6. Jeff

    Mar 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    So with the lower bounce of 10 you didn’t find them digging ? I’m looking at md2 vs these and I like the 14 deg bounce options but like the shape and design of the vokey

  7. Daniel Verduzco

    Mar 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I would love to see a comparison done in this manner. Give the “tester” a Vokey SM4 with the markings covered, and a Vokey SM5 also with the markings covered, and see if he/she would be able to tell the difference between the two. As a high handicap golfer, I doubt that I would be able to “feel” a change in grove depth, but I will take any technical advantage that I can to improve my game.

    • Joe

      Mar 26, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Well if you want to save money, for example, I would get an F grind on my 50 and 54 but a K on my 60. I can’t get a SM4 K but I could get the F grinds for other two. If you really want to save the money go with the SM4’s. Take advantage and get fitted for the specific lofts and grinds and that will improve your game more than just buying a wedge that is just a newer wedge. Keep in mind that a high handicap could easily be lowered with a good short game.

  8. Harry

    Mar 26, 2014 at 11:58 am

    A great range of loft selections- shame they often produce and sell wedges of different lofts to what they claim. A two degree buffer for wedges left me with three wedges with different lofts to what i wanted. My 58,56 and 52 degree wedge set was actually 57,55 and 54 degrees leaving me with yardage gaps. Sadly this is not a one-off case as i subsequently urged friends to measure their loft and lies as well and it was a worryingly common problem among all vokey wedge ranges.

    • Ben Jackson

      Mar 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      All clubs from all OEMs have manufacturing tolerances, this is not unique to Titleist or wedges for that matter.

    • Adam Beede

      Mar 29, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I’ve played Vokeys for years. The first thing I do before I buy them, is run them over to the fitting counter and have the loft checked and adjusted. I’ve purchased probably 15 in the past 7 years, and only once was the loft at the stamped degree. It has been 2 degrees weaker on average. I’ve also never paid for the service. To throw a wrinkle into this, I did have a fitter say they are cast so it may snap. It didn’t, I played it for 70 rounds or so, and started the whole thing over again.

      • Adam Beede

        Mar 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

        One last thing, I’ve always played the oil can finish- maybe psychosomatic; but I just like the way they feel. Shame that finish isn’t included in the new line, but as my current 3 wedges only have 30 rounds on them, I’ve some time before I need to worry about that.

    • MaJa

      Aug 19, 2014 at 12:42 am

      No matter what irons or wedges you buy, you should get the tested for loft and lie as soon as you get them. Even from the factory there will be some that are out. Every club and shop has a loft/lie machine and a little book that tells them exactly what each club’s specs should be.

  9. Essix

    Mar 26, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Bought a set of SM5’s/black the day they came out, used them the following weekend skin game. . . . . .really AWESOME !!!!!!

    • Dylan R.

      Mar 26, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Pros: “three different finishes”…not for left handed golfers.
      Bottom Line: “No one gets left out of this line of Vokey Wedges.”…except for left handed golfers.

      Not once was it mentioned in the review of the SM5 that lefties get no Gold Nickle love.

      “Perfect?” Probably if you are a righty, but not for a lefty dying for the Gold Package.

      FYI, I’m a right.

  10. Joe

    Mar 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    How long will the finish on the blacks last considering they’re raw? And what will they look like after a season of use? I don’t want to go black and regret it after one round in the rain.

    • Rich

      Mar 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I’ve already had a hit with these and they can scuff after one shot from a messy lie. If I get some of these it will be the chrome. They don’t glare in the sun and they look awesome.

    • rixirox

      Mar 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

      They will rust, bite the ball better and give you better control. They will also look like crap. Just keep an iron cover on them or wipe them and spray them with PAM cooking spray when you put them up.

  11. rocketshankz

    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    So…this thread is pretty fun, no?

  12. getitclose

    Mar 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Great write up! Just out of curiosity..how can I order them with the personalization? How much extra is the stamping?

    • Billy

      Mar 26, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Contact your local shop, they can order for you. I am sure they will give you an estimate. I want to order a 52 with S400 tour issue shaft.

  13. Jerret

    Mar 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Dave is an idiot.

    • Dave S

      Mar 25, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Constructive. I provide my opinion, which you obviously disagree with (fair enough), and yet you feel it necessary to create a second, stand-alone post to take an unfounded and personal shot at my intelligence.

      Ironically, it ends-up speaking more to yours.

    • patty

      Mar 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      thats a low blow man…..not cool

    • Westcott

      Mar 25, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      I guess so huh! Real winner here lol

    • TT

      Mar 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      I agree Jerret.

      Also in response to Dave’s comment, “Once you get to a certain depth… going deeper does nothing, except maybe make it more difficult to clean your grooves”, deeper grooves do in fact help. Deeper grooves allow matter (grass, moisture, etc.) somewhere to go during impact allowing better contact with the ball.

      • Dave S

        Mar 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        TT – I’ll give you the benefit and assume you just agree with Jarret’s argument and not his personal insult. To your point, I’d say: what then when they’ve gone as deep as they can go? I can guarantee they’ll conjure-up some ‘new tech’ to sell us on the SM6 being ‘noticably’ better than the SM5. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything, but I’m aware of the lengths a company will go (esp. one in a struggling, declining market) to bend the truth to sell a product. Once again, not saying the SM5s aren’t good… heck, they might be the best wedge on the planet for all I know, but to say they are ‘noticably’ anything compared to the previous version is silly… IMO.

  14. The dude

    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    The TVDs are forged ….no?…so why do a lot of tour boys still use the cast?…isn’t the forge product better?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 25, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      All Vokey wedges including the TVD models are cast.

      • The dude

        Mar 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

        Interesting…..but why wouldn’t they offer a forged like other OEMs?

    • The man

      Mar 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Cast lasts longer, stay sharper. For Tour guys who pound balls all day every day, the grooves and face milling just don’t last long enough when forged.

      • Kyle

        Mar 25, 2014 at 9:34 pm

        Yeah that’s false. They are made out of the same material, just different process. Tour guys couldn’t care less if they go through wedges since they just get a new set no problem for free.

        • DrMetal

          Jan 11, 2015 at 1:01 pm

          Actually, as a metallurgist, I can clarify. Forging gives you better material properties (so they should last longer) but the variation depends on the raw material. Casting, because you are changing the structure of the metal, is process dependent. If you have meticulous process control, which better manufactures do, you can get very little variation in properties, thus a very consistent feel across the club face. The addition of the heat treat to the SM5 would improve the wear life closer to that of a forged club.

  15. Roger

    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks to Andrew for the Review and Zak for his backup comments!
    Looking for a 58/10 K grind in the future !

    I took my Happy Pills this morning………………
    Cheers!

  16. Dave S

    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    “The specialized TX3 grooves are noticeably more consistent…” YEAH RIGHT. What does that even mean? Don’t sit here an tell me that you, the GolfWRX reviewer, can tell a ‘noticable’ difference in the consistancy of a wedges grooves from just one model year ago. Hogwash. If that were the case, then why are a good number of pros still using TVDs? Clearly a characteristic like ‘consistancy’ would be OBJECTIVE, i.e. everyone who played with it would notice their balls spinning at a more consistant rate… so don’t tell me that it was more consistant for YOU, but that pros play w/ what they’re comfortable with and maybe the TVDs are better for their game… if it was noticably more consistant, it would be in every pros bag.

    I like reading these reviews for the entertainment value, but frankly, it’s difficult to take the actual ratings seriously since they sound like they come directly from OEM marketing materials. Obviously, we all know that GolfWRX is owned by GolfDigest, who relies on OEM advertising to stay afloat, so I can’t say I blame you for not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you. I’m sure that Vokey’s ARE great wedges (they always have been), so no qualms there, but some of the more detail-specific remarks cause a lot of eyebrow raising.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Dave,

      I wanted to respond to a few of your comments.

      First off, GolfWRX is not owned by Golf Digest. It is independently owned and operated, as it has been since Day 1.

      Reviewer Andrew Tursky is also a very talented golfer, and like many who have extensively tested the SM5’s he could definitely tell the difference in the performance of the SM5 groove versus the SM4 groove. How are the grooves more consistent? It’s stated clearly in the review

      “In wedges with lofts of 48-to-54 degrees, the grooves are narrower and deeper than the previous generation and work to better fend off grass and sand through impact. The grooves in 56-to-62 degree wedges maintain the same width as the SM4 grooves, but they’re 7 percent deeper, adding spin and control.”

      The SM5’s wedges are also not “one model year newer.” They were released in November 2011, making them more than two years old.

      According to our sources on tour, the reason TVD wedges are used by many tour players is because of their unique grinds and slightly different appearance at address. As stated in the review, the TVD-K grind is a little narrower and has less bounce than the SM5 K Grind models. The overall shape of the TVD wedges is also more round than the SM4’s and SM5’s, and they have a lower PAR area, which is a look some golfers prefer.

      • Dave S

        Mar 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

        “GolfWRX… in association with GolfDigest”. Symantics. Don’t tell me that GD slaps their name on your site all of a sudden and then doesn’tt provide any resources or fiananical backing… come on.

        As to this comment: “The SM5?s wedges are also not ‘one model year newer.’ They were released in November 2011, making them more than two years old.”… I assume you were referring to the SM4s. But also symantics. Clearly they are ONE model newer… SM4->SM5. Let’s not dance around the point.

        I’m sure Andrew is a fine golfer, never doubted it. I would hope being good at golf is a prerequisite for writing product reviews for a site about golf (although, that might be a misguided assumtion). Either way, I find it hard to believe that a wedge with clearly more ‘consistant grooves’ wouldn’t be used by everyone on tour who uses Vokeys… the grind and ‘appearance at address’ arguments are just smoke screens promulgated by Titleist to explain away this question. Andrew just got through explaining how many grinds Titlest has and how that can be ‘overwhelming’, so don’t tell me that a Titleist tour van can’t or won’t grind an SM5 in the same fashion as a TVD if the player prefers… that’s the whole point of being on site at tournaments.

        Another thing, you mention Titleist’s marketing material about SM5’s grooves being ‘7% deeper, for added spin and control’… please do explain to me how deeper grooves add more spin. Once you get to a certain depth – to the point where the outerlayer of the ball has reached its max deformity upon contact – going deeper does nothing, except maybe make it more difficult to clean your grooves. My point is that reciting these marketing materials in a review as if they are fact and have been tested/proven, strikes me as bit disingenuous.

        • Jerret

          Mar 25, 2014 at 2:11 pm

          Hey Dave S

          Tour guys don’t just switch if the performance is clearly better, unless it is clearly better for them.
          Ie. Lee Westwood hitting a Ping G10 years after the G15/20 & 25 came out
          Ie. Guys still using the 2007 Pro V1 even though there are clear benefits to using the 2013 version
          Ie. TaylorMade staffers still using Burner Heads even though SLDR clearly is their longest driver yet

          Tour guys are fickle, they don’t always switch to noticeably better products because they’re so good that they know what they like, and it is comfort for them.

          • Dave S

            Mar 25, 2014 at 3:13 pm

            Jerrett –

            I believe you’re missing my initial point, while at the same time helping me make it. I said that I thought it was silly to say something like: ‘The specialized TX3 grooves are noticeably more consistent…’ and hold it out as an objective statment (i.e. fact) when it’s obviously a subjective thing. They certainly aren’t ‘noticably more consistant’ for a large group of Tour pros who’ve decided not to use them. Let’s be honest with each other, real wedge technology doesn’t change much from year to year (I’m talking the REAL tech that actually helps, not some marketing gimmick like 7% deeper grooves). All of these ‘special’ grinds have been around forever and the general shape of a Vokey wedge hasn’t changed for a long time… I have the older models to prove it. If the reviewer had just said, ‘Look, I like the SM5s and they work well for me and they might for you too, especially if you like Vokeys’, I could accept that. But the review makes it sound like we should just toss whatever we’re playing and go buy these new ones right away to improve your game ‘noticably’.

        • Chris M

          Mar 26, 2014 at 11:40 am

          Deeper grooves channel away more grass, sand, dirt, etc which allows cleaner contact between the groove edge and the golf ball. That’s what produces the incremental gain in spin.

    • Dom

      Jul 8, 2014 at 12:06 am

      The reason pros play certain clubs it’s BC their sponsored by that company and its in their contract so thwy dont have a choice except for a select few who have the optionto play whatever they want. And if you think because you watched a pro play a particular wedge on TV thats the one YOU get to buy in the store your sadly mistaken. So just because all the pros didnt switch to the sm5 has no bearing on their groove pattern or type of grind that their actually playing. If your gonna put down this website at least know what your talking about. Start by learning the nature of the business.

  17. Ben

    Mar 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

    miura forged >>> cast vokey’s….

    • Scooter McGavin

      Mar 25, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Miura = overrated.

    • froneputt

      Mar 27, 2014 at 1:16 am

      The balance of Miura Wedges is different, but in this instance, the forged v cast debate is irrelevant. Miuras are not overrated, but are overpriced. The choice of grinds are limited and Miura is conservative in their grinds, but somewhat innovative in some respects – see the K Grind. One ought to have more grind choices for the price.

      As to Vokey, I think these grinds present limited choices around the green for touch pitches.

  18. patty

    Mar 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

    TVD > SPIN MILLED

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Reviews

In-Depth Review: Titleist Vokey SM6 Wedges

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Pros: A new, progressive CG design helps the low-lofted wedges fly a few yards farther, and improves the feel of the high-lofted wedges while boosting consistency. With lofts from 46-62 degrees and five distinct grinds, most golfers will be able to find an SM6 wedge that works for them.

Cons: At $149, they’re $20 more expensive than SM5 models.

Who they’re for: All golfers.

The Review

  • Price: $149 (MAP)
  • Lofts: 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62
  • Grinds: F (46-56), S (54-60), M (54-62), L (58-60), K (58-60)
  • Finishes: Tour Chrome (plated), Steel Gray (plated) and Jet Black (QPQ)
  • Stock Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S200
  • Construction: Cast (8620 carbon steel)

A glance at Vokey’s new SM6 wedges reveals that something is different. Some golfers will understand the science of why the wedges look like they do, but many won’t. Unlike a lot of new golf club technologies, however, golfers won’t need to be in the know to be impressed. I don’t talk about the “cool factor” in many of my reviews, but the SM6 wedges certainly have it.

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Those curves on the back of the SM6 wedges? They create what’s called a progressive center of gravity (CG), which means the weighting of the SM6 wedges varies based on loft. The lowest-lofted SM6 wedges (46-52 degrees) have the lowest CG, the mid-lofted wedges (54, 56 degrees) have a higher CG and the highest-lofted wedges (58-62 degrees) have the highest CG. The three different CG positions match the desired impact area on each wedge’s club face — lower-lofted wedges are generally contacted lower on the face, while higher-lofted wedges are generally contacted higher on the face — to improve trajectory, feel and consistency.

Low-Lofted SM6 Wedges 

If you’ve ever wished your Vokey 46-, 48-, 50- or 52-degree wedge flew a little farther, SM6 models will. Vokey says the low-lofted SM6 wedges create about 1.5 mph more ball speed and 3-4 yards more distance, and I buy their claim after testing SM6 wedges that were built to the same specs as my SM5 models on Foresight GC2.

“Distance doesn’t matter with wedges,” you might be saying, and you’re correct in theory. Who cares if your gap wedge goes 110 or 113 yards, as long as you hit it a consistent distance. That’s not the issue, though. Improvements in golf equipment technology have irons flying farther than they ever have, which means more golfers need a club — and maybe even two clubs — between 46-and-52 degrees to bridge the gap between their shortest iron and mid-or-high-lofted wedge.

I’m one of those golfers who needs two wedges to fill the gap. I use a 9 iron that measures 41 degrees and carries about 150 yards. I also use a 54-degree wedge (bent to 55 degrees) that carries about 105 yards. I fill the gap with a 46-degree wedge (bent to 45 degrees) that carries about 135 yards. I prefer its look and feel to the pitching wedge from my iron set because I can vary trajectory more easily with it. I also carry a 50-degree wedge that carries about 120 yards.

An issue I had with the SM5 wedges (46-08 F Grind, 50-08 F Grind) is the same one I’ve always had with other low-lofted wedges. Many times when I tried to hit them a little harder to make them go a few yards farther, they didn’t. Shots often just went higher due to excess spin. I’ve seen countless golfers experience this problem, especially better players.

The biggest improvement to the low-lofted SM6 wedges is that they create a more iron-like ball flight. It’s slight, but their faster trajectory is a little bit less likely to balloon. To me, they also feel slightly softer than the SM5’s at impact.

Probably just as important as the new progressive CG design of the low-lofted SM6 wedges is something that isn’t new — the different bounce options Vokey offers in its 50- and 52-degree wedges. Both the 50- and 52-degree models are offered in F Grinds with effective bounce angles of 8 and 12 degrees. Most manufacturers offer multiple bounce options in their mid- and high-lofted models, but it’s rare to see two different options in low-lofted models.

In July 2015, I traveled to Titleist’s Oceanside, California Test Facility to learn more about the company’s 716 iron line. During the downtime, Titleist offered me an opportunity to be fit for SM5 wedges by the man himself, Bob Vokey. My steeper angle of attack theoretically made me a better fit for the 50-12 F Grind (a 50-degree wedge with 12 degrees of effective bounce), but my results were better with the 50-08 F Grind.

Vokey explained that the reduced bounce helped me contact the ball slightly higher on the face, and that improved my ball flight. That moment cemented how important it is for golfers to be fit for not just their lob wedge, but for as many of their wedges as possible.

Mid-Lofted SM6 Wedges 

The mid-lofted SM6 wedges (54 and 56 degrees) are most similar to the SM5 models, as they do not have the weight pads used in the low-lofted and high-lofted wedges. That’s because, according to Vokey representatives, the CG of the mid-lofted wedges was pretty much where it needed to be.

For that reason, the biggest change golfers will notice if they switch to an SM6 from an SM5 is the shaping. Unlike the low-lofted SM6 wedges, which are significantly smaller than SM5 models and have shorter hosels, the mid-lofted SM6 wedges are roughly the same size. There’s no denying, however, that the shaping of the SM6 wedges gives them a more streamlined look. Their toes are more rounded, their top lines are thinner and their par area, the part of a wedge’s top line that conjoins with the hosel, blends more seamlessly.

I’ve given my SM5 and SM6 54-14 F Grind wedges (bent to 55 degrees) to several golfers and had them hit shots with each one to see if they could notice a different in feel. Some told me the SM6 felt softer, while others told me the SM5 felt softer. For that reason, its hard to make an absolute statement about a change in feel in the mid-lofted wedges. I’ve had a few golfers tell me the SM5 wedges look better at address, but many more have preferred the look of the SM6.

Before moving on to the high-lofted wedges, I want to point out two more things; one is specific to the mid-lofted models, one that is not.

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SM6 wedges use Vokey’s new TX4 grooves that feature a parallel face texture to increase spin and consistency.

  • Like SM5 models, both the 54 and 56 are available in three different grinds (F, S and M). For the SM6 line, however, the popular M Grind has 2 degrees less effective bounce to make it more versatile from a wider variety of lies.
  • All SM6 wedges also feature Vokey’s new TX4 grooves, which use a machine-milled, parallel face texture that Titleist says can increase consistency and sharpens groove edges to add as much as 200 rpm of spin. The SM6 wedges also use the same progressive groove design as the SM5 wedges. The lower-lofted wedges (46-54) use narrower, deeper grooves to displace more debris on square-face shots, while higher-lofted wedges (56-62) use shallower grooves that create more friction on open-face shots.

High-Lofted SM6 Wedges 

With a slightly higher CG, the high-lofted SM6 wedges do seem to launch shots slightly lower and with a little more spin than SM5 models, and that’s exactly what most better players want their high-lofted wedges to do. But the change likely won’t be noticed by the majority of golfers. What they will notice, however, is how much better the high-lofted SM6 wedges feel at impact. Every golfer has experienced the “clank” that occurs when a wedge shot is hit too high on the face, or toward the heel or toe at impact. With the high-lofted SM6 wedges, those shots felt softer and more solid.

Due to their higher CG, the high-lofted wedges also seemed to be a little more consistent in my testing on Foresight. Especially when hitting 50-yard shots, I saw that the 60-degree SM6 M Grind wedge seemed to land a little closer my target on mishits. Sometimes it flew 1-2 yards farther than I expected when I contacted a shot slightly on the toe or the heel; sometimes shots just held their line just a little bit better. The difference is small, but can make an difference. We’re all better at making 6-foot putts than we are 9-footers, aren’t we?

As for shaping, the new wedges don’t look the same as the SM5’s at address. They appear slightly larger, and have the same general appearance as the other wedges in the new line.

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At Address: A Vokey SM6 lob wedge (60-08 M Grind)

No discussion of a Vokey high-lofted wedge is complete without mentioning their four distinct sole grinds, which Team Vokey continues to tweak based on its work with Tour players, as well as average golfers. Despite the several improvements to the new wedges, the grinds continue to be one of their main selling points. That’s how powerful using the proper sole grind can be.

Again, it’s best to get fitted, but if you can’t, the chart and list below offers a few starting points.

Vokey_SM6_Specifications

full-chart

  • If you struggle from the sand, try the K Grind (available in 58, 60). It has the widest sole of any Vokey wedge, and can work well for golfers with steep attack angles. Compared to SM5 K Grind wedges, it has 1-degree more effective bounce to help the wedge better resist digging on square-face shots.
  • If you play courses with extremely firm turf conditions, try the L Grind (available in 58, 60). It has the lowest effective bounce (4 degrees), and slightly more camber than SM5 models to goflers resist digging.
  • The M Grind (available in 54, 56, 58, 60, 62) will work best for golfers who like to manipulate the face open or closed, while the S Grind (available in 54, 56, 58, 60, 62) is better for golfers who tend to play more square-faced shots. The 58 and 60-degree S Grind wedges have 3-degrees more bounce than SM5 models.

Vokey Custom Options

As noted above, I don’t use a standard SM5 wedge. At Oceanside, Vokey fit me for a V-Grind that’s offered through the company’s Hand Ground Program. According to Titleist representatives, Hand Ground SM6 wedges, which make available Tour-only grinds and enhanced customization options — will be released to the public at a later date.

Do I really need a V-Grind wedge? I must admit, with a little practice I could probably use the SM6 M Grind and hit all the shots I need to hit. But I liked the performance V Grind enough to pay the extra money for it (Hand Ground wedges start at $350 each).

For golfers not willing to pay that much for a completely custom wedge, Vokey offers more affordable custom options to standard SM6 wedges through its WedgeWorks Services. Through the program, golfers can customize the shafts, grips, shaft bands, ferrules, stampings and paintfill of their wedges. I’ve had several wedges customized through WedgeWorks, and the work is always A++.

Should you Upgrade?

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If you’re currently using a set of properly fit SM5 wedges, your transition from them to the SM6 models should be an easy one. Many golfers will see certain benefits from the newer wedges, as I did, but they may or may not warrant an immediate upgrade, especially if their grooves are still fresh.

An aside about buying wedges: Many tournament players purchase two sets of wedges at a time. They practice with one set and use another on the golf course, which keeps their grooves as fresh as possible for tournaments. While it doubles cost, it helps their gamer wedges last longer and adds peace of mind that they’re getting the best possible performance from their wedges on the course.

More questions?

Vokey_SM6_Featued_1

What else do you want to know? I’ll do my best to answer your questions in the comments section.

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Reviews

Review: Callaway MD3 Milled wedges

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Pros: Options are plentiful with the MD3 Milled wedges. There are three different sole grinds, two finishes and a wide range of lofts (46-60 degrees). Low-lofted, mid-lofted and high-lofted wedges are each equipped with a distinct groove design that’s tailored to shot-specific needs. 

Cons: Wedge heads are not able to be customized with stampings, engravings or paint fill. Unlike Callaway’s Mack Daddy 2 wedges, the MD3 Milled are not forged. 

Who they’re for: Anyone can play the MD3 Milled wedges, especially with the addition of the wider-soled “W Grind.”

The Review

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  • Lofts available: 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees
  • Grinds: S Grind (46-60), W Grind (54-60), C Grind (56-60)
  • Finishes: Matte Black (46-60) and Satin Chrome (46-60)
  • Price: $129.99
  • Stock Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S300

New and improved are popular terms in the golf equipment world, but generally there’s more emphasis on the “new” part than the “improved” part. Fortunately, what’s new about Callaway’s MD3 Milled wedges also offers noticeable improvements over previous models from the company.

So what’s new and improved about the MD3 Milled wedges? Here are five things to know about them.

Throwing weight around

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Each MD3 Milled wedge has four colored ports in its rear cavity. Weight was removed from those areas to give the wedges a higher-toe design that moves the center of gravity (CG) higher for a slightly lower launch and more spin — exactly what the best golfers want from their wedge shots.

For me, it wasn’t the fact I could hit the 58.9 S Grind with as much spin as I wanted; it was the ease with which I was able to alter the trajectory. With the 54.12 W Grind, I had no problem hitting the ball high to front pin locations, or flighting shots that minimized the effect of the wind.  

Shot-specific grooves

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All 54- and 56-degree (pictured) MD3 Wedges have Callaway’s 20V grooves.

With the MD3 Milled, Callaway offers three specific groove patterns to optimize launch and spin based on the loft of the wedge. Pitching and gap wedges (46-52 degrees) have Callaway’s 30V grooves, which have 30-degree side walls that perform best on the more aggressive, downward strikes that are common with the clubs. Mid-lofted wedges (54-56 degrees) use Callaway’s 20V grooves, which have 20-degree side walls that excel on bunker shots and full swings. Lob wedges (58-60 degrees) have Callaway’s 5V grooves, which create maximum spin on shots around the green.

In testing, I was most impressed with the 5V groove, which does a remarkable job moving additional moisture and debris away from the ball. That came in quite handy when navigating juicy lies around the green. 

More refined grinds

The MD3 wedges are available in three distinct sole grinds: S Grind, C Grind and W Grind. My thoughts on each are below.

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S Grind: The “S” is the most versatile of the three available grinds. I’m tempted to say that S stands for “Swiss Army Knife,” as there was no shot I couldn’t hit with the grind. It was the most consistent grind on full swings from the fairway and tight lies, and more than held its own out of both light and deep rough. There’s no doubt that the S Grind will fit the majority players, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bagging the S Grind in two, three or four different wedges, depending on your bag setup.

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C Grind: This grind offers more heel and toe relief than the S Grind, creating an effectively thinner sole that excels in firmer conditions. While it doesn’t play nice with steep angles of attack, the additional relief in both the heel and toe did keep the head moving through the rough and allowed the leading edge to sit nicely under the ball at address — especially on open-faced shots. That adds versatility for golfers who hit a lot of specialty shots around the green.

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W Grind: The W Grind is ideal for bunker play, messy lies and players with steep attack angles. It was my favorite grind, because it seemed to get better the closer I got to the hole. Out of both light and deep rough, the W Grind operated like one of those old ginsu knives, but without the lame sales pitch. Getting up and down from gnarly lies around the green felt entirely too easy. And if the lie was clean and the turf was on the softer side, I had no problem hitting aggressive shots with a square or opened club face because I knew the wider sole would resist digging. Especially on less-than-full shots from inside 100 yards, the W Grind quickly earned the go-to spot in my bag.

Two finishes

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The MD3 Milled’s Matte Black finish (above) will wear and rust over time, while the Satin Chrome, which is plated, will show less wear but produce slightly more glare on sunny days.

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Although the MD3 Milled wedges aren’t forged — they’re cast from 8620 steel — both finishes felt fantastic with an edge in softness going to the Matte Black.

Looks to get emotional about

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At Address: A 58-degree S Grind.

Last but not least, the MD3 Milled are an awesome choice if you favor a teardrop shape at address. In that regard, the MD3 Milled approaches aesthetic perfection. The slightly raised toe and marginally straighter leading edge, compared to previous models, gives the wedge a clean look that balances angular lines with subtle curves.

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Notice the added sole curvature visible at address in this 56-degree wedge, which is a result of its C Grind.

For all the time we spend looking at the face of the wedge, many golfers are concerned about the appearance of the club as it sits in the bag. Some will call the cavity of the MD3 Milled is a bit gaudy, but others will see the four luminescent ports and green accents as fun and recognizable. 

The Takeaway

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The W Grind will work best for golfers who play golf in soft conditions, as well as those looking for improved sand play.

The MD3 Milled are the best production wedges Callaway has released in the past decade for a variety of reasons. At $129.99, the three distinct grinds and two finish options should cover the needs of most interested golfers. The shaping of the wedges is also so beautiful at address, and I found them to look and feel as good as leading wedge models.

The lack of custom options — stampings, paintfill, etc — isn’t a deal breaker, but does leave some room for improvement. At the end of the day, however, wedges should judged on how they perform. With an improved weighting scheme and loft-specific grooves, Callaway put performance first with the MD3 Milled and it won’t go unnoticed.

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Wedge Reviews

Review: 4 things to know about Ping’s Glide wedges

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Designing a wedge is complicated, but falling in love with one is simple. And I fell hard for Ping’s new Glide wedges within a matter of weeks, a feeling that hasn’t faded in the months since. I found that there’s simply no shot I can’t pull off with a Glide wedge, and fitting one to your game is as simple as it gets in today’s complex wedge marketplace.

Are you shopping for a new wedge? Here are four things to know about Ping’s Glide.

The Simple (and Awesome) Sole Grinds

Ping_Glide_Wedge_Review

The Glide wedges are offered in three different “sole grinds,” a term that describes the shape of the sole of the club. Choosing the best sole grind for your game is the most important part of buying a new wedge. Choose the right one, and you’ll gain more confidence around the green. Choose the wrong one, and you’ll feel like you’re running a race in shoes that don’t fit.

Some sole grinds are more versatile than others, and Ping’s Standard Sole, or SS Grind, on its Glide wedges is one of the most versatile grinds on the market.

I tested four SS Grind wedges (47, 52, 56 and 60 degrees) in several different areas of the country with different turf conditions — from the deserts of Arizona to the plush turf of Michigan — and didn’t once wish I had a different grind.

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Ping’s WS Grind has a wider sole than the company’s other grinds, and for that reason it doesn’t “dig” as much.

The Glide wedges are also available in a Wide Sole, or WS Grind, which is for golfers who play golf courses with very soft conditions or those who have steeper angles of attack (AoA). For those not familiar with advanced golf swing lingo, a steep AoA generally leads to big divots.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Thin Sole, or TS Grind, which is for one of three kinds of golfers:

  1. Those who play courses with very firm conditions
  2. Those who have a very shallow AoA.
  3. Those who want maximum versatility around the greens, as the TS Grind has the narrowest sole and the lowest effective bounce.

The three grinds are very distinct, so if you test all three there’s little chance that you’ll choose the wrong one. Trust your gut, but there’s a high probability that you’ll prefer the SS Grind.

The Soft Feel (and Forgiveness)

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Cast wedges like the Glide can scare away golfers who are particular to the feel of forged wedges. And it’s true that there are cast wedges on the market that don’t feel great — but the Glide wedges aren’t one of them.

The Glide wedges are cast from a 431 stainless steel that’s softer than the 17-4 stainless steel used to make their predecessors, Ping’s Tour Gorge wedges. They also have a redesigned thermoplastic elastomer Custom Tuning Port (CTP) that is positioned behind the impact area to dull bad vibes.

The biggest benefit of the Glide’s cast, multi-material construction, however, is not feel but forgiveness. Some golfers might say that they’re not looking for increased forgiveness in a wedge, but I say, “Why not?” The Glide wedges are roughly the same size and shape of other leading wedges at address, with the benefit of a bit of perimeter weighting that you won’t notice until you need it.

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At address: The Glide wedges have a traditional profile and minimal offset.

When I hit a shot slightly off center with the Glide wedges — particularly the 47- and 52-degree models — the results were slightly better than the blade-styled wedges I’ve played in the past.

Impressive Custom Options

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A stock 54-degree Glide wedge has a swing weight of D3.

Remember the Custom Tuning Port (CTP) I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? It serves the dual purpose of improving the feel of Ping’s irons and wedges, and also helps the company dial in the swing weight of custom orders.

Ping made the Glide’s swing weight, a measurement of the balance point of a golf club, lighter than previous models. The stock 60-degree model, for example, has a swing weight of D4. The decision was based on a study of golf’s greatest wedge players, which showed that many of them used lob wedges that were often lighter than the standard D5-D6 swing weight.

I wanted to try lighter wedges, too, so I made a difficult request. At 0.5 inches over standard, which usually pushes swing weight into the D6-D9 range, I wanted my wedges to have a swing weight of D3. Ping nailed it.

Ping’s famous WRX department (no relation) can handle a variety of custom requests. For more information, contact Ping. 

A Hands-Down Approach

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The Glide grooves are narrower and deeper at lower lofts to create more consistency on straight-faced shots, and wider and more shallow at higher lofts to create more greenside spin.

As I mentioned in my tech story on the Glide wedges that was published January, Ping made small tweaks to nearly every aspect of the new wedges. Some were subtle, such as the loft-optimized grooves and chrome-plated finish that both create slightly more spin. Others were more noticeable, such as a new CFS wedge shaft and Ping’s Dylawedge grip, which is 0.75 inches longer than a standard grip to encourage golfers to “choke down” on the club for more control.

The takeaway for interested buyers? With the Glide wedges, Ping covered all its bases and created a well-rounded line that offers golfers plenty of loft and grind options without overly complicating the fitting process. Maybe you won’t like the Glide wedges as much as I do, but harsh criticism of the Glide wedges will be rooted in personal preference — not performance.

If you’re looking for a wedge that achieves high marks in every meaningful category — looks, feel, spin and versatility — these are one of your top choices. And if you like the sound of a little extra forgiveness, the Glide is it.

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