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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

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  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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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.

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Jon Rahm, who’s now ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the defending champion at the Farmers, and he also won last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He’s joined in the field by notables Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5), Justin Rose (No. 6), Rickie Fowler (No. 7), Jason Day (No. 14) and Phil Mickelson.

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.

Tiger Woods, who has won eight times at Torrey Pines, will make his first start in a full-field PGA Tour event since his spinal fusion surgery. The last we saw of Woods was in the 18-player Hero World Challenge where he finished T9, and showed that he could be healthy for 72 holes.

Jon Rahm, who’s now ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the defending champion at the Farmers, and he also won last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He’s joined in the field by notables Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5), Justin Rose (No. 6), Rickie Fowler (No. 7), Jason Day (No. 14) and Phil Mickelson.

Enjoy our photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open below!

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Tour Rundown: Rahm gets win No. 2 and goes to world No. 2

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Week two of the 2018 calendar season added events on the PGA Champions and European tours. The PGA caravan left Hawaii for California and found its first playoff of 2018, just as the Champions Tour reached the islands. The Euros teed it up in Dubai, and the Web.Com Tour stayed in the Bahamas for a second week. With an Asian Tour event in Singapore, the globe’s eyes were once again on professional golf. Time for Tour Rundown at warp speed!

Rahm continues to build career with win at CareerBuilder Challenge

For all of the final round, it looked like Jon Rahm would pull away for a 4-stroke victory. His driving was impeccable and his irons were dialed in. His putting stroke looked sound, but some of the birdies simply did not nest. Throughout the four-hole playoff with Andrew Landry, it seemed as if Rahm was destined to lose. Somehow, he persevered and won.

Rahm’s patience pays off with second PGA Tour win 

How many edges of holes were singed with putts and chips by Jon Rahm down the stretch? At least four, not counting the playoff. Fortunately for the Basque, only Andrew Landry made enough of a move to track him down temporarily. Rahm played like the 3rd-ranked player should, and now he’s the world No. 2 player. Perhaps the fact that he couldn’t or didn’t separate himself from his pursuers, yet had enough weaponry to pull out a victory, mattered more than a runaway triumph. Yet golf is a funny game. The only fairway Rahm missed in extra time came on the 4th hole. Despite that errant tee ball and his misses on the first three playoff holes, Rahm was able to drain the only birdie of the playoff and walk away a champion.

See the clubs Jon Rahm used to win

Landry and others made the most of their opportunities

Andrew Landry showed more gumption than anyone anticipated. The 2016 first-round leader of the U.S. Open stayed around even longer this week. A 72nd-hole birdie brought him to 22-under par and a tie with Rahm. The Arkansas alumnus drove the ball straight and far on each of the playoff holes, and never once sniffed a bogey. His irons brought him within birdie range but, like Rahm, he could not find the proper combination of line and speed. In the end, Landry missed last and settled (if such a term might be used) for a runner-up finish.

Fleetwood greets 2018 with title defense at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Tommy Fleetwood looks for all the world to be a millenial hipster with his free-flowing hair and his strands of beard. In absolute contrast, he is equal parts passion and cold blood. When opportunity beckons, he doesn’t look away. Given the slightest opportunity to defend his 2017 Abu Dhabi title, Fleetwood assented and took charge.

How Fleetwood dispatched Fisher and the rest

Through 9 holes of Sunday’s final round, the tag for Tommy Fleetwood’s title defense percolated as He gave an admirable effort. Nine holes and six birdies later, that tag line had changed to How in the name of all that is known did he defend his title? And yet, there was Fleetwood with the fourth European Tour title of his career and third in the past dozen months. When Fleetwood needed a great drive, he got it. When he didn’t hit a great drive, he came through with a stellar approach. When his approach was off, he drained a long putt. And for good measure, he hit a wonderful pitch at the 18th, nestling the ball 5 feet for birdie, and made that. The end result was a 2-stroke margin of victory over the runner-up, Ross Fisher.

What is it about Ross Fisher?

Ross Fisher is eternally composed. Not like his countryman Colin Montgomerie (more on him later), who wore every disappointment like a Halloween mask. Yet, the two share a certain sad penchant for missing opportunities. Last October, Fisher wasn’t going to catch Tyrell Hatton in St. Andrews, but he was chasing immortality. He had a 25-foot putt for the first 59 at The Old Course…and missed. He had a 4-foot putt for the first 60 at the Old Course…and missed. He broke the course record with his 61, but, you know. Fisher has an 0-5 record in European Tour playoffs. On Sunday, he was victimized by Fleetwood’s marvelous back 9 of 30 strokes, but by his own inability to gather the fruits of opportunity. Case in point: Fisher made a long and testy putt for bogey on the par-5 10th, a hole that many birdied. Rather than use it as a springboard to return to his coach on the birdie train, he floundered with four pars and one bogey over his next five holes.

Kelly wins at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

Jerry Kelly earned the 2017 PGA Tour Champions rookie of the year award, on the strength of consistent play and his first two tour titles. On Day 3 of the 2018 season, he added to his victory total with a 1-stroke win over Colin Montgomerie. A 2-stroke swing on 18 decided the fate of both…here’s how!

How Kelly klaimed the championship

For fans of Hideki Matsuyama and his deceptive reaction to fantastic shots, Mr. Kelly is guilty of the same on well-struck putts. He drops his putter from one hand and slumps his shoulders after mid-range putts. All the while, the ball is tracking toward the hole, and usually drops. Kelly played a fine round on Saturday, with 5 birdies and 1 eagle. It might have been the sole bogey of the round, on No. 16, that ignited his hockey-bred fire. The miscue allowed Colin Montgomerie to take a 1-shot lead into the final 2 holes, but Kelly’s birdie on No. 18 brought him the title. How’s that?

How Monty lost his opportunity

We forget how difficult it is to hold a lead in any event, at any juncture. Colin Montgomerie never figured the recipe out in major championships on the regular tour, but he had it down, for the most part, in regular tour events. On the Champions Tour, he has been quite solid, winning six times as a senior in the U.S. and five times in Europe. In the third round at Hualalai, Monty’s most reliable club betrayed him at the least opportune time. A drive into a fairway bunker at the last hole left him 100 yards to the green. He flew the putting surface with his approach and played an indifferent flop shot to 7 feet for par and a playoff. His effort was off the mark and the title slipped from his grasp.

Sergio’s Singapore Open

Despite this unexpected result, Sergio Garcia opened the 2018 season with a victory in Singapore. We’ll run down what he did right.

Sergio and Singapore on a Sunday

The #SingOpen2018 and @TheSergioGarcia made a perfect match on an extended final day. Wet weather forced a last-day completion of Round 3, and most golfers played more than 20 holes on the final day. Garcia stormed from behind with 66-68 over those final 36 holes to wrest the lead from Danthai Boonma of Thailand. Nine birdies and 1 bogey over that stretch of two rounds finished the task for the Spaniard, who looks to defend his 2017 Masters title in the spring.

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The battle for second ended in a tie

With Garcia separating himself from the peloton, attention turned to Boonma and cast for the runner-up resolution. After three stellar rounds (70-68-65), Boonma stumbled in Round 4 with 73, finishing in a tie for 4th with countryman Jazz Janewattananond. Satoshi Kodaira of Japan and South Africa’s Shaun Norris each birdied the final hole to finish tied for second at 9-under, 5 blows behind the champion.

Hello, World for Sungjae Im at Web.Com Opener

Sungjae Im, all of 19 years of age and pegging it in his first Web.Com event ever, gave us a Hello-World moment with a closing 65 and a 4-shot win over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. How did the young Korean pro flu powder his way to the top of the podium? We’re asking ourselves the same question

How Im became I’m The Champ

Im entered the final round of the Great Exuma Classic in a tie with Ortiz, but eyes were on proven winners like Rhein Gibson, Steve Marino and Erik Compton. Sungjae Im went out in Round 4 and played perfect golf. He had 4 birds on his outward half, then seized the trophy by both handles with 3 more chirps on holes 14 to 16. Simply put, there was nothing that Ortiz or any other entrant could do, beyond bow and salute the victor.

How Ortiz and the others took the shock

Carlos Ortiz did what he had to do during Tuesday’s final round. He played a solid round, minus-3 with 5 birds and 2 bogies. He stayed ahead of Gibson and all the others, but would have needed to turn his bogies into birdies to tie Im atop the board. Rhein Gibson began round four like a boss, with birdies on 5 of the first 6 holes. He reached 8-under and looked like the eventual winner. The engine sputtered, and it was 1-birdie-1-bogey-10-pars the rest of the way. Gibson would have needed 10-under on the day to tie for the trophy, but with a few more birdies along the way, would he have frightened Im? Who knows!

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