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!

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52 COMMENTS

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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