I have had the pleasure of working with Ari Techner President/CEO of Scratch Golf on the two beautiful wedges pictured blow.
I found Mr. Techner to be knowledgeable, forthright, and very very busy. The entire process was educational as well as entertaining, requiring thought (difficult for someone such as myself who fears getting lost in thought since the inside of my head is not Mr. Rogers neighborhood) as well as patience, a virtue I have discovered lacking in these times of instant gratification. The process began the end of July this year when I contacted Mr. Techner about doing a review of a Scratch wedge. The questioning began immediately; would I like to review one of the JLM products or one of the Tour Department wedges. Being curious by nature I was interested in the fitting process involved in selecting a Tour Department wedge, plus the opportunity to obtain a club built from scratch (clever how I stuck that in there like some kind of master wordsmith, eh) to my specifications made the decision easy. Tour Department it will be, please and thank you.
I heard back from Mr. Techner the first week of August. He’d been working with some Tour pros, given the success of Scratch wedges on the Nationwide Tour that work is proving fruitful. Would I provide information about my wedge game he asked, including a series of 14 questions about my short game: are my misses fat or thin; what percentage of both; how do I use them ; do I open the face a lot; what wedges did I currently use; what wedges have worked in the past and what haven’t; what did I like about their appearance; plus a request for any other specifics I would be able to provide for his analysis. Now these are very short very direct questions without very short direct answers, at least for me since short and direct apply only to the length of my drives as they veer offline. I sent my responses after several hours pondering and musing over things such as what possesses a man to put a colored rope around his neck, tie a knot in it, and call if fashionable…you see this was not easy by any means.
Once again I heard back from Mr. Techner with, slap my forehead and shut my mouth, more questions. He needed to know more about my sand game, other than I’d rather play in the sand with heavy equipment than golf clubs. Requested also was information on my 53* wedge use and any issues I had with that club ( you know you’ve had too much therapy when someone uses the word issues and a knot the size of Texas forms in the middle of your gut). We also discussed shafts, as I have used a variety of shafts in my vast collection of short game clubs, as well as a spec sheet covering loft, lie, shaft, grip, finish, stampings, paintfill, swingweight, and length. Three years ago I would have answered standard to all of the specs requested simply because I was unaware of the answers that would best fit my game. Hanging around golf websites like TSG and Golfwrx has taken my from ignorant baboon to I know just enough to be dangerous to myself and others.
Loft was easy as I’ve played with a variety of combinations allowing me to settle on 53* and 58*. Lie also is not a problem, since I know standard wedge lies are to upright from me and I tend to hit the ball off the toe end of the club consistantly, 1* flat allows me consistant center of the face contact. The hard part was the finish and paint fill, again with the questions needing thoughtful responses, and then after thinking these things over I have to make a decision with which I’ll have to live. I despise decisions because there are always consequences involved, and as the Sisters at the Catholic grade school of my youth taught me consequences can sometimes be very very painful. (I think this ties back to my difficulty with the whole “issue” thing but that’s another tale) I can tell you I spent serious time on Scratch Golfs website examing the available finishes. To rust or not to rust; bright and shiny; dark and mysterious; brushed and elegant? It’s almost too much for a man who attempts to make only two decisions a year. As you can tell I opted for the satin copper finish with the red paintfill and very minimal stampings. Elegant. Sophisticated. The antithesis of myself. As an added bonus I chose the Lamkin Crossline cord grips in red also, with Dynamic Gold S400 shafts at D4 swingweights on both.
Off went my reply at the end of August, and back came Mr. Techner’s recommendations. For the 53* he recommended the TNC grind which would let me hit longer shots, with the face square to slightly open, along with longer sand shots should I find myself beached far from my destination. For the 58* he recommended the SLT grind ” a very very versatile grind that will allow you to open the face of the club or play it square and hit any shot you are looking to hit”. I won’t even pretend to understand how he arrived at those selections nor how one arrives at the particular grind, I’m not the expert. I direct you to scratchgolf.com for the more technical aspects of those grinds and to Mr. Techner himself to better explain that part of it, as I said before I know just enough to be dangerous. And the wait began. 4-6 weeks was the target to receive the newest members of my arsenal amassed over time in the effort to overthrow old man par. This is the part where patience comes into play. Normally when I need to be patient I get into mischief or create a crisis, things I’m good at, but that’s a story for another time.
After six weeks I figured things at Scratch Golf had gotten busy, since I didn’t have the clubs, and sure enough after seven weeks an email arrived that my wedges were in and had gotten mixed in the shuffle of clubs Mr. Techner was working on for 40 or so Tour pros. How can one fault someone for success? I certainly can’t, and having spent almost 40 years in retail environments of one type or another I understand all too well the trials and tribulations of growth. The clubs were on their merry little way to me. When the white box showed up a couple of days later with the big black S logoed Scratch on it, with the slogan “the endless pursuit of the tap in” my breathing quickened, blood pressure rose, and my palms got sweaty…Christmas in October, haha. As you can see from the pictures above, these clubs are almost too nice to hit. Almost being the operative word here, because hit them I did, repeatedly. The weather and time constraints(created by mischief as a direct result of the need to be patient, sigh) have not allowed me to take these on the course for a full round. I do only live 32 seconds from a practice area, however, and went to shag some balls.
Words seldom escape me, I have only been stunned speechless three times in my life at the birth of my three daughters, this was close. How often have you hit a golf shot with a very very large smile on your face. I mean the stupid idiot speech impediment producing kind of grin akin to what happens when the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen walks up and starts a conversation and immediately you slobber on your shoes. THAT kind of grin. I hit 80 or so wedge shots that afternoon, in temperatures around 50* with 20+ mph winds with that kind of stupid look on my face. The 58* wedge in particular hit more shot types with an easy grace unlike anything I’ve experienced. Open the face a little, open it a lot, square face, try and hit a shot that would bounce right and pull that off everytime and see if you don’t suffer a case of buffoon face. Thick lies, tight lies, dirt lies, downhill, uphill, sidehill, that 58* handled everything. Both clubs allow me to change trajectory as desired, consistantly. And feel, oh my yes, the feel. Freshly powdered baby butt ain’t got nothing on the feel of these clubs. There really is something to be said for that soft forged steel. I am not clever enough to know if part of the elegant feel is due to the satin copper finish, though I think is must have some effect. I also wondered when I started how well that finish would hold up, and so far, they show the normal wear on the face and sole but nothing more. The attractiveness remains intact.
I’ll finish by saying if you want to treat yourself this holiday season, contact Mr. Techner and the folks at Scratch Golf. Get your hands on at least one of these wedges and you too can resemble the village idiot when you hit a shot with them. Forget the latest and greatest driver, you’ll not get more than a couple of yards in distance if that. Take that money and put it towards sticks that will help you score better, with the added bonus that the guys you take money from will never see how you managed to get up and down so often as they’ll be focused on what a goof you look like when you hit a wedge shot. Oh one more thing, remember to wipe your chin before you putt.