Throughout most of your bag, you can get away with changing clubs every few years or so. Updating a driver is usually to keep up with the latest technology, while changing irons is likely to replace wear and tear. Fairway woods can go five years or even a decade in your bag before you need to change them out, while putters usually change when 3 footers stop going in.

But then there’s wedges, which are more tricky. If you’re like most golfers, you use one club more than others around the green; you practice with that club, hit bunker shots with it and depend on it within 80+ yards to save par and make birdies. The more you practice with and get to know your wedge, however, the quicker its grooves wear out.

But when exactly should you start thinking about replacing your wedges; how many rounds? Titleist’s Vokey R&D team took to its Manchester facility to experiment on this very dilemma, and provide the necessary answers.

For the test, Titleist established exactly what a worn wedge looks like using face-mapping. Vokey SM6 (56-14 F Grind) wedges were used with S200 shafts, and the clubs were hit hundreds of times in a bunker: 500 swings to replicate 75 rounds, 1000 to replicate 125 rounds. Testing was performed with a robot that’s designed to hit wedges off the turf. Shots were hit onto a completely flat green.

As you can see from the video, Titleist found that groove wear begins to affect performance after about 75 rounds. It continues to worsen around 125 rounds.

For the casual golfer, that means making a difficult decision. Do you want to upgrade wedges and deal with the cost and a potential learning curve, or do you want to stick with the worn-out wedge in your bag and deal with the performance drop?

“I PLAY WITH FOUR VOKEY WEDGES AND I CHANGE MY 60 DEGREE EVERY FEW TOURNAMENTS,” SAYS TITLEIST STAFFER JORDAN SPIETH. “THE REST OF THE WEDGES I SWITCH MAYBE EVERY COUPLE OF MONTHS.”

While PGA Tour pros are afforded the luxury of changing wedges whenever they want to, you’re likely limited by a budget.

With this in mind, Jeremy Stone, the Director of Marketing for Titleist’s Wedge Division, suggests taking your wedges to your nearest launch monitor after about 75 rounds to ensure they’re still performing how you want them to. According to Stone, some telltale signs of grooves that need to be replaced are increased launch angle and decreased spin. If the ball is coming off your face and ballooning or floating, rather than penetrating and spinning when it hits the surface, it may be time to change.

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62 COMMENTS

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  1. I played in our Men’s opener scramble saturday with the best player in our club, of his 17 rounds this year 8 are in the 60’s.

    The grooves on his wedges were so full of dirt they just about made me sick, he had no problem pulling off shots I couldn’t with nice shiny ones.

  2. All of my playing partners are using wedges that are 5-10 years old and it’s a noticeable difference how limited their shots are around the green. I’ll gladly pay for new Vokeys every other year since I’m taking all their money to pay for them.

  3. Sam Sneed said,”I never made any money with my ball coming back at me!’ It aint about more or less spin. its about optimal spin. Spin has way more to do with face angle and attack angle than it does about grooves. This article is just another attempt to get people to go buy stuff they dont need. Bernhard Langher is whooping everybody with 25 year old irons…grooves schmoves.

    • When you play on greens as firm as they are on tour every week, you want as much spin as you can get with your wedges–especially with the modern ball that doesn’t spin nearly as much as the ball from 20 years ago.

      It’s not marketing. For the better player, it’s what you want.

      Remember: Just because one CAN spin the ball more with fresh grooves, doesn’t mean you always do. But having the ability to spin the ball to a downwind, front pin, is a big deal on firm greens. It can be the difference between a 10 footer and a 30 footer.

  4. I’d be interested to see the data points in between fresh and 75 round old wedges. I doubt the performance just drops off right at 75 rounds. If anything, I would think the quickest drop in performance would happen in the first 10 rounds or so, as you’re going from as sharp as you’re going to get to… not as sharp.

  5. A- USE A GROOVE TOOL FOR FORGED OR CAST
    I M 71 YRS YOUNG & IMAGINE HOW MANY WEDGES I’VE HAD
    THEY STOP ON A DIME WHEN U WANT ‘EM TO ROLL & SPIN OFF THE GREEN WHEN U WANT THEM TO STOP – YES, EVEN 4 THE PROS

  6. Jeez everyone is so sensitive these days! Just replace when you feel like it or when you think its affecting your game. They were just showing you if you swing like a robot this is how much spin you’ll lose over time. Beings that most of you hit all four corners of your wedges your grooves are good for a lifetime of golf! lol

    • Why would Titleist skew the results? This is an estimate… simple information… something to consider. They didn’t say to buy their wedges. They basically said golfers who are serious about their games should consider how much spin they are losing and when it is effecting their game. Then, replace accordingly. This Titleist hating by golf “snowflakes” is so goofy.

  7. Wow! New wedges that often-are you kidding me. Still have the TM xft 56 I got when they first came out-play 150 rds/yr (am 70 and retired in FL) and use it 2x/wk for some practice. Fortunately understood the golf business well enough to buy a bunch of inserts years ago at $20-25-still have 6 left. Change inserts every January if needed.

  8. Marketing propaganda I say, as it is the game is already expensive don’t make it worse. In general, most people wants to have fun playing golf and try to achieve good scores with some skill sets acquired through their play and practice.

    Can I say this article is saying to buy more equipment and play better? How about I do one better, have any of the those company’s created recycle programs for the unwanted old clubs? C’mon you can do better than this……

  9. If you’re a tour pro then you can replace the wedges frequently, but even the amount they change wedges is a bit over the top. Sure you can see some degradation of wedges after a couple of years, but I had Vokeys for 8+ years before I really saw a great deal of wear. Sure the new ones saw terrific, noticeable difference in spin but that’s after a long time playing the old wedges. It just seems that for the everyday player replacing your wedges every 75 rounds is ridiculous. Replace them when they show alot of visible wear or simply when you feel like it.

    • I seriously doubt average golfers play 37 rounds a year to warrant changing wedges every two years. Just looking at the face and grooves you can get a good idea of whether your wedges are worn out or not. Real pictures of the post worn wedges would have been helpful.

    • Similar to the “real cost” of a car someone needs to come up with the “real cost” of golf, minus the greens fee. Per round how much do your clubs, clothes, shoes with spike changes, gloves, lost and replaced towels and head covers, travel to and from the course, hats, tees, bag, balls, push carts cost you???

      On the other hand, don’t figure it out. Or we’ll all be giving up the game.

      • Many of those factors are up to the individual golfer. It can be a cheap game or extremely expensive. If golf is your vice and you save a bunch by not drinking alcohol then you might be able afford a few more golf “luxuries”.

  10. Played today. My 32 year old ping L wedge got me up and down on the 3 holes that I used it. That club has not been out of my bag all those years and will continue to be in my bag. I believe that shot conditions, all the other variables we have with each shot are so much more important then a wedge that has 75 rounds on it. What about practice? Over the years I have spent many hours with that L wedge in my hand. The way I figure it, I’m close to have it broken in. I have changed the grip about 45 times, original shaft however.

  11. seems like the pressures of being a public company are starting to impact the decisions made at Titleist. $300 for a cameron shop restoration, premium pricing for 33″ cameron putters and r&d that suggests the average player hits 7 bunker shots per round. Pretty soon, 6 month refresh/update cycles on clubs.

    • 7 bunker shots with the same club! I have 3 specialty wedges so I am apparently hitting 21 bunker shots a round… please! Get your wedge specs, shafts and grips right but then stick with them and love them.

    • Sure that may increase consistency in spin over the life of the club but your sacrificing just as much on the front end as you are trying to catch up on the back end.

      NO thank you.

      Using low spin balls with new wedges to protect spin discrepancies later on is like not taking your Porsche out of 2nd gear for the first 100k miles just in case you want to get on the interstate later.

  12. Stone’s advice to check wedges on a launch monitor after 75 rounds would only add value if:

    1. the player checked them when they were new to establish a baseline, and compares the same types of affected shots (full shot, knockdown, etc)
    2. the player has consistently been using the same ball brand and model, and uses that same ball on the launch monitor
    3. the player’s swing has been consistently the same
    4. the risk of using deteriorated wedges (i.e., finishing position in tournaments) outweighs the replacement cost for the wedges.

    • That’s a good point, since after 75 rounds I think my game would have changed significantly (as it has over the years). I guess for golfers who have hit their peak it wouldn’t really matter. But then I guess the only way to really know is to buy two wedges always, and periodically do a A/B test to see how fresh your wedges still are LOL. Sure. Let’s all do that.

  13. Well, in the special on golf channel Bob Vokey actually stated that he recommends to PRO’s that they change their wedges based on the number they have and due to how PRO’s use their wedges. He has a 4-3-2-1 system. 4 times a year being the highest lofted one (60* possibly) down to 1 time a year being the least lofted one (47/46* possibly). If you only use a 3 wedge setup, then it’s 3-2-1. The special was the same time when they showed those Arnold Palmer wedges in all black; I believe they were Martin Hoffman’s. When Michael Breed asked him about the amateur at home, Bob Vokey said that Amateurs only really need to change out the one wedge they use the most and not nearly as frequently as the PRO’s obviously. The problem with us readers, is that people CONSTANTLY misinterpret the information that’s given as applying for everyone. It’s funny how people want to buy TOUR stuff, but then when told that TOUR standard/averages require maintenance/replacement, suddenly they disagree or think it’s a bogus notion just to get money. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me. Let’s be real, we KNOW they’re talking about PRO’s, not us Am’s that don’t play 5 rounds a week, not including practice time.

    • Why spend the time and effort to create such a video and then blast it across social media (I saw the video posted on Facebook BY Titleist days before I saw it here) for all to see if it is only meant for pros? This was a money grab pure and simple. Make the guys who don’t know any better or have zero sense spend more on equipment.

      • Obviously because we as the population are always interested in knowing what the pros are doing. It’s just like amateur singers asking what gear professional singers use. They watch all the behind the scenes as well and get to know what they use and when they replace their gear. But nowhere in the video did you see them recommending that amateurs need to replace their wedges frequently. They simply wrote that if you’re not getting the action you expect out of your wedge anymore, that it may be time to change. This is under the assumption that your swing is consistent enough to even get to that point of understanding. Regardless, everyone interprets the video their own way. So to each their own.

  14. It’s not just the face condition of the wedge. It’s also how you use it. Steeper swings generate more spin. I sweep my wedge shots on good lies. Low spin shots are easier to play.

    • See: US Tour players hitting to 13 @ Augusta and spinning back into the creek, then dropping the club and making fainting faces as if “shocked” – while Euro’s punch it up…
      Also see: Spieth, British open – Amazing shot! From so far left on 18, they HAD to have guessed the yardage….hits it to 3′ (one putt to win) & spins it back off the green…brutal.

      ….if you don’t mind a little ‘click’ on the ball putting/chipping (firmer than Pro V’s)- try the Srixon Tri-Speed ball. It goes a ton, feels pretty good and stops….one hop, little draw…The 2014 Callaway Speed Regime balls were/are great for that ‘drop n stop’ – without spinning back 15′ as well….

  15. Beauty this means I have to buy 2wedges a year acc I play 150 rounds,that won’t happen according to my wife. Oh oh titleist just lost another sale. But wish your sales reps well.

  16. Played with same sand and lob wedge for over 10 years; replaced both last year and didn’t notice a difference. This year, after putting in a lot of work in the off season with better instructions I notice better ball striking with all of my clubs.

  17. The problem with this is that the robot in this experiment likely pures every shot–making contact in the same spot on the club face everytime. Pros do more or less the same thing.

    But an amateur’s point-of-contact varies from shot-to-shot (particularly on full-shots), and thus won’t wear down a single sweet spot so quickly…

  18. How long was the shot in the video? I change my wedges about once a year and play/practice much more than average but even after a year I don’t notice a huge loss of spin on full shots. Shorter shots of maybe 30-50 yards are where you could maybe say you’re losing some spin but then again spinning the ball from a less than full swing distance is more contact/technique related anyways. Not sure I buy the “75 rounds of wear” their quoting as increasing rollout 8 feet. Besides, as your grooves wear slowly over time you’ll probably adjust to the very slight amount of extra rollout you’re getting anyways

  19. I remember reading from a club builder on the forum, that ball spin imparted from a wedge from a tight lie is generated more from loft and surface texture of the wedge rather than the grooves themselves. If that’s true, I’d imagine the loss of backspin is caused by the wearing of the spin milled surface instead of the grooves. I’m sure they know, but they didn’t even mention it. Same issue I guess, but different reason.

    • BECAUSE (providing it’s a good angle of attack) the ball compresses more and even the most mild grooves will bite more & get way more spin than the same strike on a softer surface….Every try hitting your full swing SW on your first round off std Florida fairways? A big chunk trapazoid shaped divot flops up and the ball goes 40yds – instead of the 100 you got all season with the same swing – on turf North of the Mason Dixon line…

      Winter mini-tour tip….get there before Thanksgiving & get a solid 3 weeks of practice in before the Euro guys get there. Their first week or two on Fla turf gives ‘em fits & you can take some good $$ from ‘em before they adjust to it ;)

      Turf conditions matter

    • This was my first thought exactly.

      First, excluding chips (which I HIGHLY doubt wear the face as much as longer swings), I don’t use my wedges anywhere near that much per round. If you add in chips, I’d bet the only club I use close to that much per 75 rounds would be the lob wedge.

      Second, when I do use them, they are rarely out of the sand, and I’d be willing to bet the sand wears them down much quicker than a normal fairway/rough shot.

      This is a garbage test done specifically to try to push more wedges. Whoever came up with these numbers/testing procedures is either an idiot, or he believes everyone reading is an idiot.

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