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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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I didn't grow up playing golf. I wasn't that lucky. But somehow the game found me and I've been smitten ever since. Like many of you, I'm a bit enthusiastic for all things golf and have a spouse which finds this "enthusiasm" borderline ridiculous. I've been told golf requires someone who strives for perfection, but realizes the futility of this approach. You have to love the journey more than the result and relish in frustration and imperfection. As a teacher and coach, I spend my days working with amazing middle school and high school student athletes teaching them to think, dream and hope. And just when they start to feel really good about themselves, I hand them a golf club!

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Matt Wiseley

    Sep 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Great review Chris. I have the Mack Daddy wedges (54 and 58) and I hated them in the beginning. I had Ping wedges last season and these certainly are smaller. After a couple rounds I really began to love these wedges. So….if you don’t like them at first, wait and they will grow on you.

    My one complaint, full shots with the 54 spin way to much. Seriously, hard to keep on green sometimes…I have to flight it down to get it to stop where it hits. Anyway- great review as usual.

  2. Laurence of Arizona

    Sep 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Have not hit the new MD3s, but I’ll stick with the forged MD2s as I love the forged feel. Had Voleys for years, very nice wedges just always felt real head heavy to me. Prior to MD2s I used the Taylor made xFT TPs which I really liked! Maybe it’s the KBS tour shafts that make the difference for me!

  3. other paul

    Sep 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    When I showed my wedge to my golf instructor he said “What is that? Its not even forged” I holed out with that club more times then I have with all other clubs combined in twice as much time. And my short game is better now. I wish I had kept that thing. A shot on the sweet spot has felt the same with my md2, and vokey.

  4. Charlie

    Sep 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Want that head more upright or flat? Nope.

    Want that head bent a couple degrees to match your set? Nope.

    Want a bit better feel around the greens. Nope.

    On other words…nope.

    • Joe

      Sep 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      did you post the same thing in the vokey thread? Because my 54* SM5 is bent to 55*. You’re simply off base. Is the hood of your car forged? Because I can bend it.

  5. Martin

    Sep 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    None of the big wedges are forged.

    I looked at these the other day in Golftown, I suspect one will find it’s way into my bag. I love my original MackDaddy 11 60.

  6. Stephen

    Sep 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    The only major oem that still forge wedges is mizuno, vokey wedges are cast just like most others now.

  7. Joe

    Sep 7, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I REALLY wanted to love these. No hating. I hit them next to my SM5’s and they simply didn’t feel good. Matter of fact I thought they felt bad. Maybe ill give them another test later but I really didn’t care for them in my first test. Anyone else? I was on green grass for my test. Maybe just an off day or simply “not what i was expecting”.

  8. John

    Sep 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Going to be a hard sell because they’re not forged. Price makes up for it though.

    • BcavWecllh

      Sep 7, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      Most wedges aren’t forged these days. Hasn’t hurt Vokey!

  9. lou

    Sep 7, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Not forged?? Then no thanks.

    • Brian

      Sep 7, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      You average an extra 15 feet from the pin if your wedges aren’t forged. That’s just science.

      Actually I bet most people couldn’t tell the difference if WRX didn’t point it out.

    • john

      Sep 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      i bet you play cast Vokey’s thinking they’r forged lol

      • lou

        Sep 7, 2015 at 11:16 pm

        I recently purchased one of the MD2 wedges and can totally tell. If you go to the range for a few hours 3-4 times a week and practice wedge shots 60% of the time you can tell. If you are a weekend player you can’t. I can tell and forged matters. Problem is their price point is already so high, to manufacture them forged would put them outside the competition’s range. That’s the problem when you are paying Cleveland a dump load for marketing. Wedge design hasn’t changed, but minimally, in decades. There is no reason to have his name on the brand except for marketing.

    • Chris Nickel

      Sep 7, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      I don’t fully understand this perspective…How many major OEM’s have forged wedges? Moreover, how much more would you pay for a forged MD3 wedge?

      • BcavWecllh

        Sep 7, 2015 at 11:18 pm

        i think only Mizuno wedges are forged .

        • Mike

          May 26, 2016 at 8:48 am

          Bridgestone wedges are forged and they are not expensive. IMO – most underrated OEM club maker.

      • lou

        Sep 7, 2015 at 11:30 pm

        The MD2s are forged but the PM MD wedge is cast. I’m going to guess if you are drilling holes in the back of the club a cast process is cheaper.

        There is a major difference in feel between the two. Manufacturers are going cheaper and keeping their prices the same. This is about dollars and profits. The $150 price point is a wall they don’t want to cross as it chases most people away. So, like every other industry, the product quality goes down the toilet while the price stays the same.

      • Simon Jones

        Sep 8, 2015 at 7:26 am

        I pay around US$ 250 for Miura forged wedges, hand finished by Miura-san and his team in Japan. They’re perfect and, with the right shaft set up, deadly accurate.

        Cast clubs, including Vokeys, feel like shovels by comparison. If you really can’t feel the difference then you’re simply not a good ball striker

        • Chris Nickel

          Sep 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm

          I’ve found very little, if any difference, between cast and forged – Given that the wedge (loft, lie, length, shaft flex, bounce/grind) are fit to the player. The fact Vokey is #1 on the PGA Tour and Callaway is #2, I believe is testament to this.
          In fact, I’d argue the better ball striker you are, the less of a difference you’ll notice – the sweet spot tends to feel pretty pure on every club, when correctly fitted. But I guess if you’re paying twice as much per wedge, it’s important you feel there is some benefit. Thanks for the comments!

          • lou

            Sep 8, 2015 at 9:12 pm

            Seriously? The PGA Tour Pros have sold their soul for millions. They play those clubs because that is their contract. Only a handful of the best of the best can tell their contracted manufacturer, “to go pound sand they are playing something else.”

            • Chris Nickel

              Sep 8, 2015 at 10:32 pm

              Maybe this is a better debate for the forums – but I think there’s a great conversation here b/c you’re absolutely correct in that “pay for play” does impact player choice, but how long can a player stick around if their equipment doesn’t allow them to perform at an elite level?

            • Mike

              May 26, 2016 at 8:51 am

              That is a bullcrap comment. I see a lot of major OEM players using something other than the OEM they are signed up with. Vokey is #1 on tour but Titleist is NOT the number 1 iron on tour. Interesting?

              Just get off the forge vs. cast debate and just play golf.

          • Philip

            Sep 10, 2015 at 12:13 am

            Can I feel the difference between cast and forged – depends on the forging and the metal used. I have a forged Nike that feels cast, a cast Ben Hogan that feels forged, and a forged Callaway that feels forged (as well as my Mizunos). I agree that a strike from the sweet spot is pretty darn similar between all clubs, metals and designs – of course, at this point we “all” know that the feeling of a club is based mainly on the sound and I would argue the shaft too as the vibration goes up to your hands. I know some people speak of cast clubs grooves lasting longer, but based on my worn out Mizuno T11s the verdict is still out on that one for myself. Now a scratch golfer – that is another level. Personally I don’t like the bling direction, but I understand why.

        • scott

          Sep 10, 2015 at 6:50 pm

          YEAH…. Thats why ALL the PGA palyers are rockin Miura wedges….oh wait, they aren’t….they play Vokeys…NM

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Apparel Reviews

On the course? Off the course? Adidas’ new adicross line has you covered

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Furthering golfwear’s trend toward the more casual and versatile in a big way, Adidas today unveiled a new line extension: Adicross.

Urban inspired. Decidedly non-traditional. The Adicross line (styled “adicross”) leverages Adidas’ clothing and footwear styles from other arenas and reimagines them for wear on the fairway. Available December 1, the line brings Anorak jackets, henleys, hoodies, joggers, and even an Oxford to the golf course.

And before you clutch your saddle shoes in terror, remember, this is a line extension targeting a particular segment of the golfing population, not a total change of course for the entire Adidas Golf brand. If you’re wondering who represents the segment in question, think Erik Anders Lang: filmmaker, irrepressible golf enthusiast, and host of Skratch TV’s Adventures in Golf.

Lang hosted a launch event in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District warehouse space where he sat down with Adidas execs and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for a chat about the new line. He praised the performance aspects of the five-pocket pant and the footwear styles, in particular.

As for golf’s top-ranked player, regarding the Adicross line, DJ told us the line is much more in keeping with stuff he’d actually wear than the baggy shirts and khakis that were the uniform of golf when he started out on tour.

“This is a line that I’ll wear all the time,” Johnson said. “I can wear it to the course and then go meet some buddies for lunch, and I’m not a walking poster for golf.”

From the Stretch-Woven Oxford, to the jogger pant, to the Adicross Bounce footwear, every item Dustin Johnson wears in picture below is intended for both on- and off-course wear.

“Adicross is the lifestyle brand that golfers everywhere have been waiting for,” said the world No. 1. “This is something that I’ll wear when I’m traveling to a tournament, practicing at home, or even headed to the gym.”

The aforementioned versatility of the Adicross line is very much a function of the materials: No-show sweat wicking technology, nylon-spandex blends (featured in the five-pocket pant and short), Primeknit (featured in Icon Polo and Jacket). These are clothes that are ready to wear to the office, but stretch, are light enough, and offer enough comfort to play 18 holes in.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves to design a line that would aid in helping athletes in their game, their life and in their world,” said Chad Alasantro, senior designer, men’s apparel at adidas Golf. “adicross is a perfect blend of hidden technology, fused with a creative aesthetic.”

 

The Adicross line also boldly brings street-inspired footwear to the golf course, retooling Adidas’ ultrapopular Bounce design to support the foot and grip the turf during the golf swing (and resist water during dew-sweeping early morning rounds)

“Adicross was designed as a result of the feedback we were hearing from our core consumer,” said Dylan Moore, Creative Director, Adidas Golf. “Like everyone else, golfers live in a complex, busy world with many diverse interests. They expect more from less and demand performance out of what they wear.”

The centerpiece Bounce features an ergonomic fit, offset wrapped saddle with multiple eyelet rows for customizable lacing, and a non-marking adiwear rubber spikeless outsole that features 181 strategically-placed lugs for a green-friendly grip.

The Bounce will be released in January, and additional styles will follow in February.

Regarding said “additional styles,” you can spot a few in this promo video. 

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Accessory Reviews

Choose Your Tartan: Enter now to win a Sunfish Tartan headcover

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Sunfish, well known for its stylish headcover designs, is offering up free Tartan-style headcovers to five GolfWRX Members. All you have to do to apply is become a GolfWRX member, if you’re not already, and then reply in the forum thread with your favorite the Tartan pattern.

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The five winners will receive a free headcover in the pattern that they select. Winners will be selected on Friday, so don’t wait.

Click here to enter into the giveaway and pick your favorite style.

Reminder: Commenting on this post WILL NOT enter you into the giveaway.

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Equipment

Member Reviews: Callaway Steelhead XR Fairway Woods

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One of the many benefits of being a GolfWRX Forum Member is exclusive access to Giveaways and Testing Threads. In this Testing Thread, we selected six members to test a Callaway Steelhead XR fairway wood built to their specs.

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The Steelhead XR has a club face made of steel for that familiar Steelhead feel. The crowns are made from J-36 carbon fiber to lower center of gravity and move it more forward; that will help it produce lower spin like the original designs that sold 2.3 million units. According to Callaway, the crowns weigh just 6 grams — that’s 20 grams lighter than Callaway’s XR ’16 fairway wood crowns.

Full Tech Story: Callaway upgrades a classic, introduces Steelhead XR fairway woods

The Steelhead XR fairways also have a Hyper Speed Face Cup that produces more ball speed across the face, and Speed Step technology, or the raised portions on the crown, that were first introduced in Callaway XR ’16 metalwoods. They improve aerodynamics to help golfers produce higher swing speeds.

Each member completed a detailed analysis and rating of the club. You can see the full reviews here. Below, we pull quotes from the reviews to give you a feel for what this choice group of WRXers had to say. The responses have been minimally edited for brevity and style. Thanks to all of those involved in the testing!

lutomrSC

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR (13.5 degrees)
  • Shaft Tested: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65X

“I like almost everything about how this club looks. The color combination of the dark blue against the steel face gives a nice contract. I really like how the carbon fiber looks under the blue paint.”

“At times the ball appeared to have a little too much spin and would tend to climb to a height that would be above my current gamer off the tee. It would tend to go further because of the stronger loft, however, usually about 5-7 yards. Perhaps a different shaft could help the spin, but it would need testing. The Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65 Graphite X-flex is a great stock option. It has a good feel and a weight that I prefer, and I think it can keep up with higher swing speeds without issue.”

SDickenson642

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)
  • Shaft Tested: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65X

“The appearance of the Steelhead is amazing. The shape is perfect for my eye, as I prefer a smaller profile down by the ball in fairway woods. The face is pretty deep compared to my [Cobra] Fly-Z+ I’ve been playing for three years now. The sound is amazing off the head. I never had the privilege of playing the original Steelhead fairways, but it does remind me of the original woods I played as a kid, which I think where Tommy Armour 845’s.”

“With the deeper face of the Steelhead XR, I thought I would have issues launching the ball from the deck on par 5s, but I did not see any issue. Turf interaction with the Steelhead was great. I was able to try multiple lies from the fairway, rough, and even a bunker. From the fairway I could easily control it and actually get the ball up in the air enough and with enough spin to hold greens.”

MillerLowLife

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)

“The top of this club looks awesome at address. I really liked the look of the crown that is a dark blue and shows the carbon fiber underneath. That, coupled with the silver steel face, makes it easy to frame the ball. This is a steel club so the sound and feel will be a sharper metal sound that’s accustomed to the old Steelheads. Has great swing weight and feel. Felt really easy to hit this in the tee box, fairway, or rough.”

“I really enjoyed the versatility of the 4+ with the shorter playing length, heavier swing weight, and flatter lie angle. For me, it felt like a bomber off the tee box, but it was still something I could use to get me out of less-than-ideal lies outside of the fairway —  something I wouldn’t think about with my current gamer.”

Hackster

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)

“This club is all business. Longer than my 3-wood, flies higher and able to work the ball left and right. On the tee, the ball jumps forward when it hits fairway. Does not lose much distance on off-center hits.”

“Long off the fairway, just put on cruise control and fire away. I struggle in the rough with any fairway wood, so not much to compare to — that’s what hybrids are for. Love this club. Had concerns where it would fit in the bag, but easily able to replace my 14.5-degree 3-wood with the 4+. Much more versatile than my current 3-wood and longer.”

drifliboy

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 3+ (13.5 degrees)

“This club with the lower loft of the 3+ worked well for me off the tee. It was close to my driver on distance. It seemed to launch quickly and then maintain its height. It did not balloon for me. It also really seemed to want to go straight, a couple of times shots almost seemed to correct a little in the air, particularly if I had pushed it. This club at this loft is pretty much a driver replacement for me.”

“If you are looking for a very classy fairway wood that is solid, long, with some forgiveness and doesn’t look like it was developed by a “mad” scientist, this club should be on your short list. It works well off the tee and turf. Please test and get fitted for the right loft and flex. I think this club provides most golfers with very good options that should be considered if they are looking to upgrade any of their woods.”

Discussion: Read the full responses here.

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