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Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch

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Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.

However…

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off?  It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.

When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.

In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.

As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.

But how has the MD5  really done thus far?

Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.

But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.

The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.

In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.

Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.

I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.

I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:

Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?

Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.

Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?

Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.

Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?

Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.

Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?

Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.

I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.

Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.

Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?

Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.

Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?

Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.

Wunder: And your current set up is?

Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.

Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say

Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?

MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it,  I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.

Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?

MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.

Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?

MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.

Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?

MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.

Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.

Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.

Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.

Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.

Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace 

Si Woo Kim

Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

Whats in the Bag

Tiger Woods WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open

Tiger Woods WITB 2020

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 60 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max Rocket 3 (14 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG 2 “Tiger MT Grind” (56-12, 60-11 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS
Grip: Ping PP58 Blackout

Golf Ball: Bridgestone TourB XS

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

More photos of Tiger Woods’ WITB in the forums

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GolfWRX Spotlight: Scotty Cameron Special Select Newport 2

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When you buy a Scotty Cameron putter, you know what you are in for: quality craftsmanship, stunning attention to detail, and of course—one heck of a flat stick. Cameron has been refining his designs for more than 25 years at Titleist, and the Special Select line has become a showcase for timeless shapes known the world over, including the Newport 2.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-2

Classic shapes never go out of style, and as far as the Newport 2 in the Special Select line goes, it brings me right back to my Art of Putting Oil Can Newport 2, the one putter I wish I had never sold from my collection.

Photo: Scotty Cameron Archive

It has a noticeably thinner top line than any recent Cameron releases, which may or may not appeal to all golfers, along with sharper lines along the bumpers.

Design as a holistic utility, ebbs and flows throughout history. What was popular for a very specific reason at one point may not appeal to the same people as tastes and preferences change. The Special Select line brings back a lot of classic influences, which as a whole, will appeal to a very large number fo golfers familiar with Camerons of the past.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-5

The benefit of the modern Special Select versus the classic designs are the customization options available. The Special Select head weight changes based on the length of the putter to keep feel the same, and if you want to go a step further, you can choose to have your putter built to either the “light” or “heavy” spec directly from the Titleist custom shop. With the trend of putter heads getting heavier, I can see this becoming a very popular option.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-7

Scotty Cameron has always had a keen eye for putters and this line is no different,

“With Special Select, I wanted to get back to the pure-milled shapes and faces that I’ve been crafting for tour players for over two decades now. We’ve brought those designs into the modern era with new setups, necks, faces, grips and weights. Every aspect of every putter has been redone. When it all came together, it was pretty special.” – Scotty Cameron

Special Select Line Update:

All of the changes made to the new Special Select line versus previous releases are tour inspired and include

  • Soft Tri-sole Design: to promotes the putter sitting square to the target line at address when the putter is soled.
  • New Tungsten Balanced Weighting: These new heavier weights not only assure each putter is properly balanced based on putter length, but also offer higher MOI thanks to the greater concentration of mass on the heel and toe.
  • Refined Hosel Configurations: Each model’s hosel has been tweaked for optimized performance. For example, the Newport 2 putter features a slightly shorter plumbers neck for more toe flow, along with a new socket radius (where the hosel neck meets the top line) to offer better visibility of the ball and leading-edge at address.

Scotty Cameron Special Select Details

There are eight models to choose from in the 2020 Special Select line; three blades, and five mid-mallet options with a look and toe flow for any player’s stroke.

  • Newport, Newport 2 ( featured here), Newport 2.5, Del Mar, Fastback 1.5, Squareback 2, Flowback 5, and Flowback 5.5.

Special Select putters retail for $399.

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Equipment

TaylorMade introduces yellow TP5 and TP5X golf balls

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TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

TaylorMade Golf has introduced their new yellow versions of the TP5 and TP5X golf balls which are available online and at retail today.

Designed for high visibility, the yellow balls feature all the same technology as the original TP5 and TP5X golf balls which includes a 5-layer construction as well as a low compression core designed to increase launch angle and reduce drag.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

As a reminder, the TP5 and TP5X also contain the brand’s HFM (High-Flex-Material). Described by the company as its “fastest material” ever, HFM is a tightly wound spring, which is designed to create more rebound energy when compressed for added ball speed.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

The balls also include TaylorMade’s Speed-Layer System, which is comprised of four increasingly stiff layers, creating a Speed-Layer System that enables a soft core to be wrapped by increasingly rigid materials. This system allows each outer layer to become progressively faster with the aim of controlling spin rates without affecting speed or distance.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

The yellow versions of the TP5 and TP5X golf balls are available to purchase on taylormadegolf.com and through their global retail partners at retail or online.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

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