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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

2018 GolfWRX Men’s Spring Fashion Shoot

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As promised by our Resident Fashion Consultant Jordan Madley in the 2018 Women’s Spring fashion shoot, below is some much-needed fashion love for the guys.

GolfWRX was on location in Las Vegas at the UNLV college campus where our Director of Content Johnny Wunder went full Zoolander to model the following golf apparel companies:

Also, many thanks to the folks at the UNLV PGA Golf Management program for hosting us!

We look forward to any and all feedback, and your thoughts about the apparel we chose to feature.

Related: Don’t miss our 2018 Women’s Spring Fashion Shoot

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Apparel Reviews

Golf polos with bold patterns: A quick chat with Bad Birdie golf

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Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Bad Birdie golf produces some of the most eye-popping polos ever seen on a fairway.

The company’s brazen ambition to “make the most savage golf polos in the world” and its boisterous presence on social media belies an attention to detail and careful pattern curation. It’s easy to make loud, obnoxious clothing. It’s more challenging to produce something that’s at once bold, stylish, appropriately fitted and of high quality. But that is what Jason Richardson’s company has tried to do since entering the market.

I spoke with Richardson about his eye-catching wares.

Before we get into your Bad Birdie offerings, tell me your take on the state of golf wear when you decided to enter the market?

JR: I went shopping for a polo for an upcoming tournament and was hoping to find something a little flashier/fun. I got bummed out when I realized most of the golf polos were generally the same colors/patterns. Solid pastels or stripes weren’t necessarily what I was going for, so I did some research online.

After looking at anything I could find, I realized that most golf polos are almost identical to each other. The only thing that’s really different is the branding or tech fabric. There’s a couple brands making a few edgier patterns but they still have a middle-aged, Tommy Bahama feel that’s not necessarily relevant to the younger golfer.

So building on that, what was the opportunity you saw?

JR: I saw an opportunity to make polos for the younger/trendier/bolder golfer whose style doesn’t fit into the traditional golf trends of pastels and stripes. We have a saying we use on some of our ads: “Your dad called and wants his polo back.” Most young/millennial guys who love golf are having to get their apparel from the same place their dad does. Bad Birdie sees an opportunity to fix that.

Cool. What’s your background in golf?

JR: I’ve worked in golf for a lot of my life. I started caddying when I was 12 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, AZ, during the summers, so learned the game while working. During high school, I worked for an eBay store that sold golf shafts that were left over from all the club fitters in Scottsdale. After college and before starting Bad Birdie I worked in advertising.

What’s Bad Birdie’s competitive advantage?

JR: There’s no other brands making performance golf polos with styles like we do. Our team is in their 20s and early 30s so we’re right in our target demographic and have a great network of friends/golfers we can bounce ideas off of. Being based in Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either, as we see a lot of the new fashion trends first.

Who’s your target consumer, and what has the response been like?

JR: 18-35-year-old males (and their significant others who buy Bad Birdie as gifts). The number one customer email we get is guys telling us how surprised they were by the number of compliments they got while wearing their Bad Birdie. Love getting those.

Any upcoming releases, plans we should know about?

JR: We have some new polos dropping in July you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Who’s the best-dressed golfer on the PGA Tour?

JR: Until someone is wearing a Bad Birdie it’s tough to say.

Touche.

Check out Bad Birdie’s wares here, or check them out @badbirdiegolf on Twitter.

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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