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Chikara Designs Wedge Review

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You may not know the name Carlton Masui, but chances are good you’ve run across his products.

Masui has worked for Gauge Design in Japan and helped design wedges and putters. He left the company in the late ’90’s but has opened a shop in Hawaii and has been doing quality club work since 2006. Masui has become famous for building clubs and grinding wedges for teen phenom Tadd Fujikawa. Masui’s most recent adventure – releasing the Chikara Designs line which begins his own line of production wedges. This is not your typical run of the mill sand wedge. Everything about the club is performance oriented, from the forging process it’s made from to it’s pronounced sole grind and head shape. So exactly what makes Carl’s Chikara wedges that much better than other wedges on the market?

Aesthetics

Chikara has a very clean look at address. The round, high toe is very reminiscent of the tried and true Cleveland 588. When set down behind the ball, the club has a very thin topline and a leading edge which blends perfectly into the hosel to give the look of minimal offset, but still providing quite a bit of confidence at address. The top line has an incredibly thin appearance due to a beveled edge which gives it a very thin look from address without sacrificing the feel of actually losing material high on the club. The graphics of hte club are very clean, with the number of dots denoting the loft of the club (three dots means 57) and the Japanese Kanji “Chikara” which means power on the toe.

The Chikara wedge comes in two flavors, the standard retail and the prototype. The prototype is hand ground, features a black finish, and has less bounce along with milled grooves. The retail clubs are available only in satin chrome, have slightly more bounce, and have grooves that are double punched rather than milled. Dynamic Gold is the standard shaft for both models, although various others are available.

Technology

How much technology can there be in a wedge? Well, the Chikara finds a clear way to seperate itself from many of the other wedges on the market, yet does it subtly and without any gimmicky packaging. Looking over the wedge and the most prominent feature is the impressive sole grind. The combination of heel, toe, and trailing edge relief allow for the club to lay flat on the ground even if the face is wide open. Also, the CNC milled channel cut into the sole allows the club to play with minimal bounce when square but still keeps the full width of the sole intact for times when more bounce is needed.

Also, the transition from the club face to the hosel has received special attention. The hosel is very slightly offset but progresses forward to keep the leading edge directly inline with the shaft to give the appearance of no offset. It’s something you would probably not notice unless told to look for but was purposely designed that way by Masui to add forgiveness but maintaining a look even the most skilled players will love.

Performance

More and more companies these days are incorporating sole grinds into their retail wedge line. However, none of these can compare to the grind on the Chikara. Although the club officially has fourteen degrees of bounce and a fairly wide sole, it does not play that way at all. Quite the contrary, even if the face is opened wide up, the club plays with much less bounce than advertised. The advantage of having that much bounce is very apparent on full swings though. Going through the turf, the wedge is incredibly stable and is great for players who like to hit down on their wedges. Feel wise, the club is very soft. The S25C metal and the unique forging process yield a very soft feeling wedge that still retains quite a bit of durability. Fans of Mizuno forgings will notice a great deal of similarity in feel in the Chikaras. The channel cut in the sole allows it to sit square and brings the leading edge closer to the turf. The combination of wide sole with reduced camber helps prevent skipping even in hard conditions. However, the bounce does not get in the way around the greens since the heel and toe relief allow for the club to sit low to the ground when the club face is wide open. Sliding the club face under the ball even from tight lies is really not a problem at all with this wedge.

Although the grooves on the retail club are not milled, this was a calculated move since the double punched grooves on the retail provide more than enough spin. The large groove volume and sharp edges mean that sucking golf balls back is no issue at all and getting short shots around the greens to check is very easy. It has taken about a month to get the club broken in, but now it provides quite a bit of spin and is still pretty friendly to premium golf balls, with only minor cover damage. One of the biggest advantages of the club is found in bunkers. The club is simply automatic out of the sand. If you enter the sand a little too close to the ball, the leading edge seem to just dig enough to allow the club to slide under the ball. A little fat and the bounce works to prevent digging. Few other golf clubs can make this claim, but with this in your bag, you will become a better sand player.

The club also very playable whether the conditions are soft or firm. I’ve played the club in deep rough and the extra bounce available makes it very easy to keep the club from digging even in deep rough with a semi-buried ball. Also, thanks the channel in the sole, picking the ball clean off the tightest bent grass lies hasn’t been a problem since the club plays very low bounce when square. Golfers who carry multiple bounce configurations for different conditions can easily replace their entire collection with the appropriate lofts in the Chikara.

Conclusion

With the exception of the putter, the sand wedge is of paramount importance to golfers. Increase their handicap, and this value seems to grow exponentially. With all the options on the market today, it might be difficult to choose a product like the Chikara, especially since many golfers have come to trust their Clevelands and Vokeys over the years. However, if you can get past the lack of an established name, you’ll find the Chikara wedge to surpass any other on the market in terms of playability, feel, and spin. Whether it is the narliest blue grass rough, or the driest hard pan lie, there is not a single shot the Chikara can’t tackle.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jebb

    Nov 26, 2007 at 4:42 am

    Fantastic review of a fantastic product.

    Love the grind explanation. Sharp, effective and to the point- just like the product.

    Love the unfussy look and the Chikara/Power stamp. Beautiful, clean looking aesthetics.

    Good work guys.

  2. tjschill

    Nov 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    I like the Tadd Fujikawa grind far better than the proto or the production… Carl… leave it to a pro (even one at age 17) to hit the nail right on the head… listen to the market and offer a TF grind…

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson still on pros’ minds | Scotty Cameron speaks

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 20 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. What a golf world we live in. I’ve been getting a few emails from readers saying someone from the USGA mispronounced low amateur Matt Parziale’s last name during the U.S. Open trophy ceremony. I didn’t see it; but if so, good grief.
1. Mickelson on their minds

 

Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about Phil Mickelson’s actions Saturday at Shinnecock, but players on the PGA Tour aren’t tired of talking about the subject. Additionally, several gentlemen’s early U.S. Open exits means this week at the Travelers is the media’s first chance to catch up with them (Spieth, McIlroy, Day).
  • …and of course, anonymous takes! (via Brian Wacker) “He should’ve been disqualified,” insisted one former major champion. “Why don’t these governing bodies just enforce the friggin’ rules? It was like Tiger [at the Masters] in 2013. That was a hard one, but this one Phil knew what he did and told everyone what he did, which was worse. It’s like robbing a place, walking out and saying to the cops ‘I did it,’ and the cops go, ‘It’s OK, it’s just you.'”
  • Brandt Snedeker: “He hit a moving ball and tried to use the rules to his advantage,” said Brandt Snedeker, who was among those who thought Mickelson should not have been DQed. “The USGA had a chance to disqualify him for being egregious and they didn’t, so no. The rules screw us over so many times, so more power to him for using them.”
  • Jordan Spieth: “I laughed, I thought it was really funny…”Phil knows the rules,” he said. “There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that?”
2. Jason Day pulls no punches

 

Taking one particularly hot take off the plate of responses, Jason Day (who won’t face awkwardness with Mickelson in any Ryder or Presidents Cup locker rooms) was pretty clear in stating Mickelson ought to have been disqualified.
  • “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil….But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”
The Australian also had some choice words for golf’s governing body regarding course setup.
  • “…Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
3. The Phil Rule

 

All of this brings us here: Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier says it’s time for “the Phil Rule” in the wake of Lefty’s creative use of Rule 14-5.
  • “…giving Mickelson just the two-shot penalty essentially endorsed this hockey-style alley-oop as legitimate strategy. As a result, the USGA (which has not yet responded to GOLF.com’s request for comment) is left with one option: It’s time for the Phil Rule.”
  • “But the USGA ultimately cited rule 14-5, which covers strokes made at a moving ball and also calls for a two-stroke penalty, but has no clause covering additional punishment. Because of the precedent now set, a new rule should address the simple fact that hitting a moving ball just isn’t a part of golf. The so-called Phil Rule will be simple: anyone who intentionally strikes a moving ball will be disqualified.”

 

4. Johnson on Shinnecock

 

Andy Johnson at the Fried Egg is a Voice (capital V) in golf, and we’re lucky he’s emerged in recent years. His U.S. Open post-mortem is a must read.
  • A taste…”Many of today’s prototypical Tour pros appeared clueless at Shinnecock thanks to changing winds, uneven lies and vexing green complexes. The idea of flighting a 4-iron into a modest wind from 180 to control the spin as opposed to bashing a 7-iron is a foreign concept. Rather than use the ground around the greens, many immediately grabbed their 60 degree and watched helplessly as chip shots rolled back to their feet. Shinnecock Hills asked a slew of questions to the world’s best players that they had never seen.”
  • “The technology effect has been two-fold. It’s made it nearly impossible for the USGA to properly set up a golf course, and it has also robbed the game of skill. Combine the two together, and the line of a good setup and bad setup is razor thin. The vast majority of players lacked the ability to hit the shots that were needed at Shinnecock, and their first reaction was to complain.”
5. PGA’s double standard?

 

Mike Purkey of MorningRead.com takes issue with the PGA of America’s decision not to take action against president Paul Levy following his June 7 DUI…especially in light of the organization’s eagerness to remove Ted Bishop
  • Purkey writes: “Here are the facts, based on the police report: Levy got behind the wheel impaired and put people and property in danger. The fact that he hit only a traffic sign is a stroke of pure luck. The question must be asked: If Levy had hit a car with people inside, would the PGA leadership look at this incident in a different light?”
  • “If the answer is “yes,” then the PGA has the obligation to remove Levy from office. Because it doesn’t matter what – or whom – Levy ran his car into if, in fact, he was impaired. He could have injured or killed innocent motorists while on the road in his condition. That’s the disqualifying factor.”

 

6. Ted Bishop

 

Speaking of Ted Bishop, the former PGA of America president spoke at length with our Michael Williams on his 19th Hole podcast.

 

Here’s a bit of what he had to say about the U.S. Open setup
  • “You know Michael, I thought the most telling interview that I saw the entire weekend on the course set up was the one that FOX did yesterday with Patrick Reed when his round was finished. And they asked him about the Saturday setup and he said, “You know, I really didn’t have a problem with it.” He said, “There were two pins on 13 and 15 that were maybe two yards out of place and it made a completely different situation on the putting greens.” But he said, “Other than that, I didn’t have any issues with it.” And that’s his personality. He’s the guy that rolls with the flow and doesn’t make any excuses.”
  • “Now obviously, there were a lot of players that were very critical. I was just reading an article before this phone call. Some quotes from Steve Stricker, for example. And Strick’s usually a guy that doesn’t say anything bad about anything and he was very critical of about the set up. But I think the biggest controversy would be the fact that the players in the morning on Saturday were probably a different golf course than the players in the afternoon were. And that’s just sometimes in golf, the way that it goes.”

 

7. A raw release

 

Raw iron sets, at the retail level, are rare, so it’s cool to see WIlson introducing the FG Tour V6 Raw irons.
  • The new FG Tour V6 Raw irons have an unplated finish, and they’re designed to “develop a unique patina based on age, exposure and use over time,” according to Wilson. This gives each iron a unique look, and one that’s far from the clean cut original FG Tour release that had a chrome finish.
8. Scotty speaks!

 

Famed putter maker Scotty Cameron spoke with longtime equipment scribe E. Michael Johnson.

 

A morsel…What’s the coolest item you have in the Gallery right now?
  • “I made a putter for myself. I think alligator is such a gentlemanly, cool material. So I made myself a Gatorback putter. It’s kind of like an 8802, but with a wide-bodied flange. I can do the wide-body flange because I have an aluminum sole plate. But the back has something that looks like the dashboard from a Bentley. But then that long, round flange in the back is kind of a plain area of blankness.”
  • “So I milled a little pocket back there that has a rim of stainless steel, then I created a stamp the shape of the mill pocket, cut out the alligator. I used a special glue to inlay the alligator into the back of the putter, so it has a Gatorback Bentley back and bottom. It’s spectacular. And then I matched it with an alligator grip. Then I took the alligator to make headcovers to match the grip and the back. It is expensive and it’s a pain to do, but when I was done with it I went, “Oh my goodness.”

 

9. Shark in the buff

 

As he said he’d consider doing when asked by Michael Williamson our 19th Hole podcast

, Greg Norman is set to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue.”
  • The 63-year-old will follows in the footsteps of Gary Player, as well as number of other golfers, including Camilo Villegas, Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Sandra Gal, Suzann Pettersen, and Christina Kim.
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GolfWRX Morning 9: More venom for USGA, Mickelson | The specter of 5-hour rounds

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note to start your day.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below. Feedback is always welcome–send everything from news tips to complaints (hopefully more tips than complaints)!

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 19 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1.”No obvious leadership”

 

Ganging up on the USGA–both when warranted and when not–is a sport in the world of golf. Thus, it’s not surprising to see the takesmiths continuing to reload and empty their clips.

 

That said, Brandel Chamblee’s remarks were particularly scathing and far reaching.
  • “Something’s amiss in a big, big way,” Chamblee said. “I think the USGA has lost a lot of the trust of the golf world.”
  • “They missed the rebound effect and the combination of the rebound effect [with] the ball. They missed it, on their watch. And now, the feeling is that they’re crying foul, even though it was on their watch. And so, essentially, the equipment companies got it done, by [the USGA’s] standards, legally.
  • “There’s penalties that they levy that make absolutely no sense, penalties that they don’t levy,” Chamblee said. “Disqualifying Phil Mickelson made perfect sense.”
  • “There seems to be no obvious leadership, you know, to me,” he said. “No obvious leadership heading in the right direction.”
(h/t to Joel Beall for the transcription)

 

2. Mickelson dragging continues

 

Plenty of ink continues to be spilled condemning Phil Mickelson and/or the USGA. Here’s a bit from Nick Rodger at Scotland’s The Herald.
  • “Mickelson’s well-documented antics during the third round of the US Open, where he deliberately hit a moving ball on the 13th green to prevent it trundling goodness knows where, brought widespread condemnation but no disqualification.”
  • “He should’ve been but the USGA officials effectively buried their heads in the technical mumbo jumbo of the rule book even though Mickelson brazenly admitted to the breach.”
  • “Rather like failing to punish marquee names for slow play, this was another example of lily-livered officialdom. Mickelson’s crass celebration at holing a putt on the same green on Sunday was another Harvey Smith salute to the spirit of the game.”
Lily-livered!…More

 

3. Say what you will, this U.S. Open was entertaining

 

Good for golf? Bad for golf? Bad for the USGA? Bad for Phil Mickelson? Bad for Dustin Johnson? Who cares, writes the AP’s Charles Curtis, the U.S. Open was entertaining.
  • He catalogues everything from Bryson DeChambeau’s “clown golf” comments, to Mickelson’s meltdown, to Dustin Johnson’s slow burn  in this piece.
4. Back to work for Spieth and McIlroy

 

A friendly reminder that following disappointing weeks at Shinnecock, both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are back to work this week at TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship.
  • Spieth, if you’ll recall, won the tournament in a playoff last year (remember Michael Greller throwing the rake in celebration?). He’ll look to get his putting back on track.
  • Rory McIlroy, for his part, is coming off a week where he simply did not look sharp in many facets of his game.
  • It’s not all that common for big names to be back in action the week after a major, so many will relish the opportunity to see if something is indeed rotten for the duo.
5. Bridgestone Golf’s new leader

 

Following the departure of Angel Ilagan late last month, Bridgestone Golf has appointed Dan Murphy as President and CEO.
  • Murphy was previously with the company from 2004 to 2015. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
  • Since 2015, Murphy was President of textile manufacturer Kentwool and Vice President of American Achievement Corporation.
  • Says Murphy. “We make the most technologically-advanced golf balls in the world and my role is to help ensure Bridgestone is recognized as the industry’s leading example of how science and data is used to make products that improve the performance of all golfers.”
6. How a recreational round of golf takes 5 hours

 

“1.56pm: The standard of play gets increasingly ragged as we edge towards four hours on the course. The sandwich seems a distant memory, everyone has run out of water and snacks and the round starts to drift.”
  • That’s a dispatch from the trenches in a funny-if-it-weren’t-so-true piece by Mark Towsend for National Club Golfer. Townsend examines the phenomenon of the agonizingly slow round in a gruesome breakdown of a recent Saturday morning round.

 

7. (In)famous disqualifications.

 

Following Phil Mickelson’s avoidance of disqualification at the U.S. Open, Kevin Markham at the Irish Examiner put together a rundown of some of the great DQs in the game’s history.
  • “It’s not often that two golfers get disqualified at once but that’s what happened at the 2003 Open Championship, at Royal St George’s. Mark Roe and Jesper Parnevik played together in the third round and recorded every score correctly. They signed their cards at the end of the round and Roe’s 67 meant he was in third place entering the final day, set to play alongside Tiger Woods.”
  • “Only it wasn’t to be: the two men had not exchanged cards at the beginning of the round and therefore ended up signing the wrong cards. The Rules officials wouldn’t budge despite the outcry over such an error and the game’s archaic scoring traditions remained intact.”

 

8. Well played, Suzy Whaley!

 

The incoming PGA of America president–and first woman to serve in that capacity–Suzy Whaley fired a 73 in qualifying at The Olympic Club to earn a spot in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
  • Said Whaley (per Golf Digest): “I’d like to see more women’s golf on network TV and the golf purses increase
  • “I want to see these women showcased for their talent and skills and the role models that they are around the world. … Young girls can see themselves as elite athletes or as women in positions of authority. Golf has the opportunity to provide that empowerment and that opportunity”.
9. Place your bets

 

With the second major of the year newly mothballed, odds for the third major of the year are being refined. Here are the latest Open Championship odds, via Bovada.

 

Dustin Johnson: 11/1
Rory McIlroy: 12/1
Jordan Spieth:12/1
Rickie Fowler:16/1
Justin Rose:16/1
Tommy Fleetwood:18/1
Brooks Koepka:18/1
Justin Thomas:20/1
Tiger Woods:20/1
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Bridgestone Golf appoints Dan Murphy President as CEO

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Following the departure of Angel Ilagan late last month, Bridgestone Golf has appointed Dan Murphy as President and CEO.

Dan Murphy was previously with the company from 2004 to 2015. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. As President and CEO, Murphy will be responsible for directing the company’s core business functions, including product planning and production, marketing, sales and customer relations.

“I’ve been with Bridgestone Golf since the beginning and the passion runs deep,” says Murphy. “We make the most technologically-advanced golf balls in the world and my role is to help ensure Bridgestone is recognized as the industry’s leading example of how science and data is used to make products that improve the performance of all golfers.”

Since 2015, Murphy was President of textile manufacturer Kentwool and Vice President of American Achievement Corporation.

Before joining Bridgestone Golf almost 15 years ago, he held key marketing and business development positions at TaylorMade, Dunlop Slazenger, Maxfli, and General Mills.

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