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Titleist Vokey SM8 wedges: Leading with performance

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Say “Vokey” to any golfer and they will instantaneously know you are talking about wedges. The name Vokey, along with Titleist, is synonymous with performance. In 2020, Vokey is introducing its most performance-driven line yet, the Vokey SM8 wedges.

Built on the foundation of what were already the number one wedges on the PGA Tour, Vokey SM8’s take precision and control to the next level thanks to refined shapes, cosmetics, sole grinds, and for the first time, multi-material technology to improve performance.

2020 Vokey SM8 wedges: How did we get here?

Vokey wedges are the standard by which wedges are judged by most golfers, similar to the way new golf balls are often compared to the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Dating all the way back to the original Spin Milled wedges, Titleist has lead the way with spin performance and quality club after club. This comes from the fact that each and every single wedge manufactured is tested for groove dimensions before ever being built.

Titleist believes that there are three key performance factors that golfers should consider when choosing new wedges

  • Distance and trajectory control
  • Shot versatility, in varying conditions
  • Spin depreciation and groove wear over time

Distance control is important for reasons I probably shouldn’t have to explain, and as golfers get into their wedges, the old mindset of just getting 52, 56, and 60-degree wedges to make sure you have all the shots is out the window. Golfers now have to consider where they transition from their irons to wedges and the lofts are of those clubs, which means if you have a 44 to 45-degree pitching wedge, grabbing that conventional 52 might not be the best idea. This is exactly why Titleist decided to put the lofts of its pitching wedges on the bottom of the T-Series irons: to better help golfers make good gapping decisions.

Loft decisions also rely on the type of shots players hit with each club, because if you are only taking full swings with your gap wedge and sand wedges, then those lofts need to reflect those shot choices and the desired distance goals. The shortest wedge can then become a specialty club built for versatility, and this is where grinds come in.

Wedges need to be the most versatile clubs in any golfer’s bag because of the variety of shots hit with them; from full swings to short touch shots around greens, they have to offer absolute control to help players not only score but also recover under diverse conditions.

This is why player dynamics, shot choice, and conditions play such a big role in selecting the proper short game tools, and as far as options go, Vokey wedges offer the most off-the-shelf options in the game.

Spin equals stopping power. As mentioned earlier, not only do Vokey grooves get pushed to the limit, but thanks to extremely high-quality control standards all the way up the manufacturing chain, you can be assured that you are going to get spin control shot after, which also leads to improved trajectory control. Less traction leads to less spin and higher launch, and as much as that might be helpful with a driver, it’s the last thing you want in a wedge.

What’s new with Vokey SM8 wedges

For the new Vokey SM8 wedges, performance is about creating better short game tools for golfers of all skill levels, shot after shot. It’s not about chasing an elusive spin number or building a wedge designed with a single task in mind, it’s about offering state-of-the-art technology alongside tour-proven consistency to give golfers more control than ever before.

“Out of head” center of gravity and multi-material construction

This is the biggest overhaul to Vokey wedge design since the introduction of Spin Milled grooves. For the first time in North America (there have been multi-material wedges made for the Japan market), the 58 to 62-degree wedges will have tungsten placed in the toe to push Center of Gravity more forward and out of the head into a space beyond the face of the club to offer more rotational control. When asked why the tungsten is kept hidden and is not a visible technology in the wedge, we were told: “it’s to keep with the classic styling associated with Vokey Designs.”

It might seem counterproductive to put tungsten in the toe of a wedge when a higher center of gravity has been proven to offer more trajectory control in higher lofted clubs, but the engineers at Titleist balanced out this toe mass by increasing hosel length to raise CG and MOI. These design tweaks create a seven-percent higher MOI than SM7 with even great vertical stability, too.

The rest of the Vokey line beyond the highest lofts still feature the proven center of gravity shifting to aid in trajectory control but now in a more subtle looks package.

The face and grooves

The Vokey Spin Milled groove design has not changed since Vokey began offering variable depth and width designs depending on loft. Tolerances continue to get pushed, but since the design was already at the limit, it’s now more about being able to replicate rather than search for an elusive few hundred RPM.

When talking about those extra RPMs gained by potential tool and radius changes, Titleist likes to use the analogy of a pencil. You can sharpen a pencil to an absolute point, but the first thing you are going to notice when you start to use that pencil is how quickly that extremely sharp point dulls back to a “standard” sharpness. This relates directly to groove radius and Titleist’s philosophy to offer maximum spin for the life of the wedge, not just those first five rounds of golf, because unlike PGA Tour players, regular golfers can’t just wander into a tour van and ask for a new lob wedge every week.

vokey-sm8-wedge-face-2

Titleist also extends the life of the grooves with a centralized heat treatment to the face of all the wedges to harden the metal without negatively affecting feel.

Grind, finish, and custom options

titleist-vokey-sm8-wedges

Constant refinement is the name of game, and the SM8’s featured Vokey’s six tour-proven sole grinds—F, S, M, K, L, and D—to allow golfers of all skill levels to be expertly fit for their swing types, shot-making preferences, and course conditions. The wedge bounce matrix has changed too, with Titleist eliminating the 58-degree L grind, adding 54 and 56-degree D grind options for more higher bounce versatility.

The new SM8’s will come stock in Jet Black, Brushed Steel, and Tour Chrome, with the option for Raw available through custom order. Raw is the biggest news since it is normally reserved exclusively for tour and Wedge Works—and at an upcharge.

Last but not least, the most obvious design change is the overall aesthetics of the SM8 versus any previous Vokey design. The top half of the back of the wedge is entirely blank, and except for small script on the hosel, the name Titleist has been left off.

Call it modern minimalism mixed with the respect that Titleist has for Bob Vokey and the product that bears his name. What this canvas comprised of soft steel also allows is even more customization. Titleist hasn’t given any further details on what this could mean from a consumer standpoint, but it’s likely to be revealed through the Wedge Works program. For the artisan and at-home wedge stampers alike, this means, now more than ever before, you can customize too.

New Vokey SM8’s will retail for $159.99 in all finishes with custom upgrades available through Titleist Custom order.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. DS

    Jan 22, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I got fitted for SM6s and Cleveland RTX3s on consecutive days. I want to hit my lob wedge with a full swing and despite the Vokey 58 degree spinning the ball like it had Velcro on it (super impressive stopping power), I could not hit any of them consistently with a full swing. I figured the sweet spot was just too small for my ability. The Clevelands have been solid from day 1.

  2. Pelling

    Jan 22, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    It’s Boron, you moron!

  3. Paulo

    Jan 22, 2020 at 4:00 am

    Is it just me or do these look a lot like the Old mizuno t5 Wedges ?

    • Pelling

      Jan 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      The Mizuno MP T5 are the best wedges! You can get them new on EBay for about $40 per club, KSouth is the seller, top rated. I stocked up, can’t beat them, 1025 E mild carbon steel!

  4. Larry Coop

    Jan 21, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Tried them in 56 and 60, hit them solid. The weight is nice. But oh, feel is hard, in cold weather almost unbearable. Vokey’s are now a thing of the past. He needs the Japan “Cold Forged” in USA. All companies have grinds, all have good grooves. Softer and better products out there. Bob, you need a better 8620 metal.

  5. Carolinagolf

    Jan 21, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Had a chance to try the SM8 and the new Cleveland’s at demo day today. Man those Cleveland’s are unreal. I think they will be the wedges of 2020. SM8 just didn’t have a great feel

  6. clubhofosho

    Jan 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Any idea if the raw version will be made available to the lefty population?

  7. CrashTestDummy

    Jan 21, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Still waiting for a 56 K-Grind with 8-10 degrees of bounce.

  8. Jerry Kluger

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I remember a few years back that a Golf WRX member was fitted by Bob Vokey at his facility and at that time he was told that a high bounce wedge is a better solution in firm conditions. This seemed counter-intutive at the time and certainly surprised the person being fitted as well as comments by others on Golf WRX. Looking at the chart for the new wedges, it appears that they are now recommending low bounce wedges for firm conditions. Does anyone else have the same recollection and perhaps confusion?

  9. Mike Larson

    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Vokey’s have felt so harsh and clicky since the SM4’s And lost their feel…..why can’t he get back what he had with the sm2’s? Callaway, Mizuno, and PXG (hate to say it) have it figured out. Sure wish Voke could use a softer metal.

    • Skip

      Jan 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      I work on Vokeys all the time and agree with your assessment.

  10. AndyfromNC

    Jan 21, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Not saying any previous gen of the V wedges didn’t look good….but man, these look fantastic!!!!!

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Wunder: I’ve hit THESE new drivers this year…and this is what I think

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During this lockdown, I have done quite a few “Friday Q & A’s” on my IG, and one of the questions I get asked constantly is “have you hit this?” That, and “whaddya think?”

So, in the spirit of organizing my brain, it seemed like the right time to share what new drivers I have actually hit this year…and this is what I think.

Now, it needs to be said that there is a lot of new gear out there, but, to be honest, I’ve only actually hit a select few enough to actually build an opinion. “Enough” in this case is at least 20 balls. Some of these sticks I tested during our pre-launch preview with the OEMs, at the PGA show, a friend has one, or I actually have it in the bag.

Here we go.

TaylorMade SIM

Setup tested: SIM 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: The best way to describe how SIM looks behind the ball is “comfortable.” TaylorMade has always made drivers that just look correct. The lines are clean, the shape inspires playability, and I dig the paint job. They hit a home run with this one for sure.

FEEL: Best sound out there in my opinion. Heavy, dense, and if you get one dead-nuts center, it lets you know. The feel at contact is just as TaylorMade drivers have always done, center strikes feel like Thor’s hammer and mishits don’t kill your good vibes.

VS THE M5: I get asked this a lot. I loved the M5. Still do. To be honest the two drivers data wise were legit apples to apples. The only difference is my stock shot with M5 was a low spin straight ball and with SIM its a slight draw with a touch more spin and slightly lower launch. I prefer that.

OVERALL: In my opinion, the TaylorMade SIM is the cool kid in high school for 2020. Last year it was F9 followed closely by M5. TM knocked it outta the park on this one.

TaylorMade SIM Max

Setup tested: Sim Max 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: It has a bit more of a longer face at address, which makes the head appear shallow which inspires a bit more confidence to turn it over. That’s the main thing I noticed with MAX. Other than that its a tried and true TM shape.

FEEL: Like its sibling, it has a nice solid hit audibly at the impact. So, overall its apples to apples with SIM. However, due to the front weight missing on the MAX, the actual strike doesn’t feel AS meaty as SIM. Not a negative necessarily just something I noticed.

VS M6: Both of these sticks I launched a bit too high versus the weighted versions. That’s why they never got any serious consideration to actually put in play.

OVERALL: As a high launch, more forgiving option, it’s an ace.

Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero

Setup tested: Sub Zero 9 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue AV 65TX

LOOKS: To my eyes, the newer versions of the Callaway drivers have looked a bit more compact than its competition. To me, this always looked “low spin” for whatever reason. The Mavrik has the same shape which is good.

FEEL: They really fixed the sound. The Epic Flash sounded like a pop can to me, and the Mavrik Sub Zero sounds like a sledgehammer. The good thing here is the sound now matches up with what the hit feels like. I think the Mavrik is the best feeling driver Callaway has made since Epic.

VS EPIC FLASH SZ: To me, a complete improvement on all fronts. Sound, feel, and performance for me were all substantially better. Now I must say that the Epic Flash Sub Zero was a great driver, I always got great numbers out of it, but the sound took me out of it. I’m sure there isn’t that much difference audibly between the two, but in this game, even something minor can represent so much. Sound to me is huge.

OVERALL: In all honestly, I haven’t given a Callaway driver a real hard look to actually put in the bag since Epic. The sound got louder wit Rogue and Epic Flash. The Mavrik SZ  however is a fantastic driver and will def get some more testing out of me.

Cobra SpeedZone

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: The F9 was a winner on all fronts. The only critique I had was optically it looked like the driver was a little too fade biased. The SZ with its milled in top line gives it softer look at address and for me, softer lines mean more workability, just what my eyes tell me.

FEEL: As with F9 and the earlier mentioned SIM, the Speed Zone sounds EXACTLY how a driver should sound. It has a very heavy hit audibly and that’s across the face. I love the sound of this driver.

VS F9: Apples to apples, it’s the same. Beyond the optics, it feels, sounds, and performs like the F9. Not a bad thing though, the F9 was the driver of 2019 in my opinion.

OVERALL: Nothing wrong with repeating an already awesome driver. SpeedZone will stand up to anything out there. If I’m being fair, I think F9 elevated things in 2019, and this year the competition caught up to it. Changes nothing about how good this driver is.

Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: Like the other drivers in this higher MOI category, it looks a little longer heel to toe.

FEEL: No different than the SpeedZone, sounds great, the impact is solid across the face, and even thin shots feel solid.

OVERALL: The Xtreme is the sleeper hit of 2020 and I’ve heard the fitters love this thing. It’s by far the easiest to hit and overall good time of any driver on this list. Is it longer? No. But is it Xtremely (no pun) playable and competitive? Hard yes. It’s a blast.

PXG Proto

Setup tested: PXG Proto 9 w/ Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 TX

LOOKS: Slick. Like all PXG gear, the look is there. The matte crown and elegant lines make it very pleasing optically. I also appreciate that although it’s designed to look high tech. The lines inspire playability, and who doesn’t love a driver that looks like a stealth bomber?

FEEL: I only hit about 20 balls with the PXG Proto in the short time I had with it, but, wow, did this thing surprise me. The sound oddly enough is a bit higher-pitched than the others on the list but for whatever reason, it’s not a distraction. It actually adds to the experience of the hit. I typically detest that, but this sound matched up with the solid hit I was getting. I’m not sure if this is the final version since its a limited tour proto but what is happening is definitely interesting.

VS GEN2: It’s just better. Feels better, sounds great, more playable across the face. The Gen2 did one thing better than everyone else, it destroyed spin. The problem I had was control. The PXG Proto is still low spin but with the new 4 weight system (no intel on the tech yet) seems to add quality launch to the low spin profile and puts the player in a situation where very few to any sacrifices are made.

OVERALL: I was a fan of Gen2. No doubt. But it never flat out beat M5, F9, or SIM. The Proto has elevated PXG’s driver game. I don’t think its a matter of whether or not the driver stands up with the irons, I believe PXG is on the right track to having a driver that eliminates any “yeah, but…” to the conversation. That’s a huge leap since Gen1. These guys are trending hard.

I hope this was helpful.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts. The look of the ultra-stiff shafts, which originated from Bryson wanting a “graphite shaft that was stiffer than the Dynamic Gold X7″, has impressed our members who have been praising the final version and sharing their thoughts on the concept.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • QuigleyDU: “Awesome.”
  • My2dogs: “Really coming out with some great new stuff.”
  • HateTheHighDraw: “MMT 125TX are absolute fire, but these must be much stiffer.”
  • Robkingasu: “Sweet!”

Entire Thread: “Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts”

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Should I move to heavier iron shafts? – GolfWRXers have their say

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the strategy of moving to heavier shafts in irons. WRXer ‘Z1ggy16’ has been making swing changes lately, and the transition has been most challenging for his iron play. ‘Ziggy16’ says:

“Been making some swing changes lately, most notably working to really shallow my club into the downswing. I’m finding that I’m doing this well with my heavy wedge shafts and driver, but I’m struggling a bit in my irons. My strike pattern with my wedges is pretty good, but the irons are a bit all over. Driver is 80g raw, wedges are 132g raw, irons 120g raw. I don’t think I want to go any stiffer, but is there a chance I’ve “outgrown” this weight and need to move to something a bit heavier to help keep these feels going through my set? No idea what swing speed is at this point, but my 7i is normally a smooth/comfortable 175-180 for me.

I really like the feel of my Accra Tour Z Xtreme 475 and my S400’s in the GW-LW. I’m kind of leaning maybe soft stepping modus 120TX or X100’s.. Heck maybe even S200 straight in? Normally I’d just get a fitting, but with Rona still going around, I’m not than keen on it. 2020 is the year of the self fit for me. FWIW, I used modus 120TX 2xSS in my GW & SW last year and that was pretty good feeling. Perhaps a touch too soft… they seemed to really whip/bend hard when hitting from the rough on full swings.”

Our members discuss whether they feel a switch to heavier shafts in the irons will have the desired impact.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Pepperturbo: “You’re not alone. Regardless of age, some of us swing better with heavier shafts. I went from 70g driver and 85g 3wd graphite shafts to 58g Ventus shaft in driver and 70g Ventus shaft in 4wd. In irons went from 130g X to 120g 6.0 PX steel shafts which lasted about fifteen years. Then last year made another downward weight change to Steelfiber (steel & graphite) 110g Stiff shafts, lightest I have ever played. Keep in mind as you transition, changing shaft weight is not the only answer. Increasing swing weight can make up for shaft weight. Though I really like them in 6-3i, not thrilled in SW-7i, so just ordered heavier Steelfiber i125g shafts for my PW-7i blades.”
  • Jeff58: “As someone who has gone through and continues to work on what sounds like a similar situation, your ideal iron shafts will likely change. Where they change to isn’t possible to predict with any degree of accuracy. Don’t change your current irons without knowing. It’s frustrating, expensive, and you won’t have any clubs while they’re being changed out. Instead, get a single club from dealsandsteals or similar and experiment with that. Also, the only relevant experience is outdoors under your actual turf conditions. Indoor and mat use can be grossly different.”
  • Red4282: “Just depends on your tempo and load and preferences tbh. My numbers are about identical to yours; I play 77g in the driver and 125 in the irons. I don’t think I could go lighter than 125.”
  • gvogel: “I have a set of hickory clubs. Of course, hickory shafts are darn heavy, maybe 150 grams or so. I probably hit straighter shots with the irons, and particularly hit better shots with the niblick (wedge). Driver and fairway woods, not so much. That might be a stupid insertion into an intelligent thread, but heavier goes straighter, lighter goes longer. You can go heavier, and it helps in transition, but don’t go too stiff.”

Entire Thread: “Should I switch to heavier iron shafts?”

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