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The Big Review – Vega RAFW-05 and RAFW-08 Wedges

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Japanese forged wedges are regarded by many as the pinnacle of their type. High performance, great looks, outstanding feel; the only surprise to many is that they are not seen more often in the bags of the professionals.

Epon, Chikara, Scratch, Fourteen, Royal Collection, Miura – all names guaranteed to have the cognoscenti drooling with anticipation. To that list you can add the Vega. Vega make the full range of golf products, including drivers, hybrids, irons (if Christian Bale ever played golf, you feel he would just have to play their 50th Anniversary Blades) and, of course, wedges. The RAFW line of wedges are as sexy a line up of wedges as you will ever see and Bag Chatter got to test the golden hued RAFW-05 and the raw black RAFW-08 in our continuing investigations into great equipment.

Vega are the premium brand from Kyoei. JDM fanatics may recognise the Kyoei name as the company that Miura worked for before he left to found his own self named company. Based in Ichikawa in Japan (also the location where the clubs are forged), Vega have been in business 51 years this year. Using a mix of traditional one piece forging along with cutting edge techniques like CNC milling, Vega say that they are part of the endless search for the finest clubs possible. Testament to this is the fact that Vega can be found in the bags of about 30 main Tour players. Some achievement considering that they don’t pay anyone to use their equipment. With most players contracted to play 9 or 10 clubs from their main sponsor, competition is ferocious to fill those remaining spots and any manufacturer that can get its clubs into the bag of a modern Tour professional without paying tee up money is obviously doing something right.

At first glance while both wedges are aimed at better players, these are two very different wedges for two very different types of players. The RAFW-05 has a heavily milled face and some of the widest grooves I have ever seen while the RAFW-08 has more standard style grooves with no face milling but has a little more bounce and an exceptional sole grind. The shafts are the new FST High Rev wedge shaft (from the same designer as the Project X shaft, Kim Braly) rather than the de facto wedge shaft, Dynamic Gold. This was the first time I had played this shaft in anger and its quality really shines through. Especially impressive was that both shafts were requested at a custom length and both were measured as being dead on spec (loft specs were also accurate too). The grip is the extremely tacky Golf Pride New Decade Sand Grips which make for a brilliantly secure connection with the club. One point to be aware of is that there is a noticeable difference with the combination of the High Rev shaft and this grip as it feels about 2 wraps thicker than a DG with a standard Tour Velvet grip. Surprisingly that actually proved to reduce unnecessary hand action without reducing feel for virtually all who tried them.

Technical Specs

RAFW-05
52
56
60
Bounce 8 12 6
Lie 63.5 64 64

 

RAFW-08
52
56
60
Bounce 8 13 10
Lie 63.5 64 64

The RAFW-05 is made from a material exclusive to Vega called EES. Due to the high copper and zinc content of this material, grooves cannot be stamped on the face so CNC milling is used for both the face and for the grooves. The RAFW-08 is made from JIS S25C Carbon Steel which does not require milling so the grooves are stamped.  Vega have told Bag Chatter than due to Tour feedback a RAFW-08i will be on the way that will have a milled face for those looking for that extra level of spin along with all the other features of the standard RAFW-08.

Appearance

Stunning. Both have classic small teardrop headshapes with the RAFW-08 being the slightly larger of the two. The RAFW-05 is a more of a gold colour than a brassy one and does not look anything but extremely classy. The RAFW-08 is one of the most beautiful wedges I have ever seen. The surface holds the finishing grain and feels like freshly cut slate and the edges of the grinds are knife-like in their precision.

Three quarter view

 

Performance

Spin

With some of the widest grooves and some of the deepest face-milling of any currently available wedge, the RAFW-05 delivers awesome spin. Stopping the ball is a piece of cake and full shots can be made to dance. Aggressive shots out of the sand really come out spitting and high flop shots sit down fast.

The RAFW-08 has a completely different spin profile. With its narrower grooves and flat face area, this is a wedge for players looking for high controllable spin levels rather than someone looking to max their spin out. That said there’s still plenty of spin there make no mistake as balls will sit down like someone yanked them down with a piece of string, but certainly there seems a bit less than the RAFW-05.

Grooves and Face

05 Grooves

 

08 grooves

 

Control

From the sand and the rough, the RAFW-05 has the edge. With the extreme levels of spin, the ball can be struck firmly with the knowledge that there is almost no roll out and that the ball will pretty much stop at impact allowing you to play target golf. The RAFW-08 is no slouch in either of those conditions but it really comes alive on chips, pitches and full shots from the fairway where the grind can really be brought to bear and the control on greenside shots is awesome. Chipping from the greenside, holing the ball becomes a real option rather than a shot in the dark with the amount of spin and corresponding runout being very consistent and predictable depending on what shot you play.

Feel

For the price (£149 for the RAFW-05 and £139 for the RAFW-08) and the specs you would expect these two to deliver shots with great feel and they deliver in spades – helped in large part by the almost perfect headweight, the top quality shaft and excellent grip. The RAFW-08 offers sensational feel: a crisp yet soft strike that is never close to being clicky. Almost unbelievably, the RAFW-05 is even better, being through the other side of soft and into the realms of silken. Frankly, it’s like diving into a supermodel’s underwear drawer and a well struck shot with this wedge will have you open mouthed in disbelief. Off-centre hits are not punished as badly as you might think with either club and the feedback on these is certainly felt but never unpleasant.

Versatility

The RAFW-08 has the more obvious sole grind with a slight trailing edge grind and a very pronounced leading edge grind. The knife-like front really allows you to shave the ground with the club no matter what the lie. While you might expect that this grind would cause digging on steeper full shots it never seems to and as mentioned previously, it makes this wedge incredibly effective when chipping. The sole profile on the RAFW-05 is less radical but is almost as effective as the RAFW-08 with the trailing edge smoothly hidden by the asymmetric camber across the sole. Both can be opened up completely without the leading edge rising overmuch, making high flops far simpler than they otherwise would be.

Sole

 

08 sole

 

Conclusion

Two superb wedges aimed at different areas of the short game, it would be difficult to imagine anybody being unhappy about having either of these in their bags. The RAFW-05 offers the edge in terms of spin and feel while the RAFW-08 offers the better control and versatility allied to arguably better looks. If one had the luxury of having a full set of wedges from Vega, unless you are an extremely high or low spin player the obvious option would seem to have RAFW-08 wedges in the lower lofts where spin control and versatility around the green are the highest priority and then have the RAFW-05 for the unsurpassed stopping power from the rough and the sand and for those flop shots that need to stick where they land. All in all, these are two classic examples of why Japanese forged wedges have such a cult following.

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2 Comments

  1. Martin

    Feb 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Mine are D4.5 but they are customizable so you can have what you want.

  2. Paul

    Feb 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Any idea on the swing weight of these wedges?

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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.

IMG_9639

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?

Vokey_SM6_Featured_3

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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