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.