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From a Fitter: An in-depth discussion of wedge bounce, grind, loft and lie

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Wedge fitting is an interesting subject due to so many variables of the player and the course we play on. This article is to help break a few components down and help you make better choices when purchasing wedges.

Bounce is generally given a number which is a reference to the angle measured through the center portion of the sole of a club, from leading to trailing edge. The larger the angle, the more bounce you have, and the lower, the less bounce you have. No doubt this is a handy number to know, but for me, it is only the beginning of understanding the wedge.

It has often been said that “better players” use lower bounce, but this is not always true. Many tour players use higher bounce wedges these days, with special grinds (shapes of the club’s sole). Do not get pigeon-holed into a wedge option because of your handicap!

For me, wedge fitting is about versatility, forgiveness, and compatibility for that one player’s style.

I start the wedge fitting with an intensive interview process about the player’s entire bag layout and how many wedges can be fit into the bag. I then discuss their perception of the shots they play a lot of (specific yardages, flights of shot, etc.). Finally, we discuss the conditions of their most played course. Unfortunately, a lot of us do not have the luxury of owning multiple sets of wedges for all conditions, but if I can give a set of wedges some versatility, that will give the player more choice of shot from course to course.

I then measure a player’s angle of attack with their PW through to their highest loft wedge with what I call their “stock shot” or most played shot with that wedge. This process is really just an indicator of the options I will try first.

From here, it is very much player-driven. We move to the grassed area and cycle lofts, bounce and grind options. Not letting a player hit too many shots with each (otherwise they can start to manipulate the wedge too much from their normal action, especially good players). We look at divots and flight, keeping an eye especially on the bad shots and how they feel through the turf and how the shots fly/land. During my intensive sessions, we also go to a bunker area and play sand shots and shots to a green to hone in specialist areas of the short game.

Generics I use for grind

  • Players who play ‘square to square’ shots, such as bump and runs, or mid-flight shots often deliver leading edge to the ground first. Depending on conditions I combat this with leading-edge relief i.e the shape of the sole looks like a V from heel to toe. Sometimes a softer rounded leading edge can also do the trick.
  • Players who hit lots of flop shots and try to manipulate the club on the ground. I experiment with variations of heel and trailing edge relief. These players often have success with aggressive grinds, as when the club is splayed open they feel as though the missing heel and trailing edge material allows the leading edge to sit snug to the surface, and it prevents the club bouncing too much through strike.

Ultimately, I facilitate a player with options and information.

The number one key of knowing you have the right wedge is clean strike! This means the club does not want to dig or bounce, but is allowed to slide through the ball and turf delivering the loft you intended.

One of the big areas that gets missed for me is the loft and lie adjustments. If a player’s lie is way out when testing a wedge, it can make it impossible to use. During a session, I try to keep uniformity between iron setup and wedge setup ensuring distance gaps are covered. This means I manipulate lofts and lies during the fitting. I have to be aware of the implications of bounce and turf interaction as I bend loft due to it adjusting the look of offset and most importantly the presentation of leading and trailing edge. The lie is just as important: one little tweak the right way and strikes can go from average to perfect.

Generics of loft and lie adjustment

  • Adding loft can deliver more trailing edge, de-lofting can present more leading edge.
  • Having more upright lies can help ‘square to square’ players, whereas flatter lie angles can help the Mickleson flop shot specialists!
  • It’s not uncommon for me to flatten a player’s lob wedge a little more to allow that shaft to lay down easier.

Key points to get the most out of your wedge fitting

  • Test options outside on turf.
  • Do not base your fitting on just your angle of attack!
  • Play lots of style of shots during testing.
  • Make sure you have enough wedges to cover important distance and shot types for your game (have versatility in your wedge setup).
  • Make sure length, loft and lie have been accounted for—as for shaft, that’s another article!

If you attain all of this and like the look and feel of your wedges, you will be set to play your best golf home and away. No matter the lie you encounter, you will feel you have a tool for the job at hand. This gives you the confidence in your swing at the scoring end of the game.

 

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Jack Gilbert is currently a Master Club/ Putter Fitter and Builder at Cool Clubs Australia, with 10 years experience in the industry. Day to day he is fitting and helping players from beginners to Major winning golfers and everywhere in between. Jack helps produce specific Putter Studio designs, alongside R&D for club fitting technology. He has played in the U.K and U.S.A as a Collegiate Golfer. In the last decade he has worked out of London, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and has been publishing content for Cool Clubs Australia since the company's inception. His content focuses on club fitting, club/shaft design and technology advancements.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. freowho

    Dec 31, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Good article. I agree with a slighlty flatter lie angle for flop shots but it makes the club hard to use for full shots. So the lob wedge basically becomes a specialty shot only club. I think if you are someone who enjoys playing different courses you do need a a couple of different setups. If I was playing a firm course I would carry the specialty 60 which means I would need a good 56 for pitch shots. If I was playing a softer course I might carry a 58 with more bounce instead of the 56 and 60.

  2. Dan

    Dec 31, 2019 at 1:49 am

    Good to know mate. Interested in your next article about wedge flex. As I play with Ap1 R300 shafts. I was fitted with a vokey wedge, 46F bounce 10. Half an inch long, 1 degree flat. Brought 3 more vokey wedges, same length and lie off a mate. Which have been upgraded to KBS hi rev 2.0 125/S. The feel and contact are amazing. Thinking about doing the same with my 46F. Your thoughts.

    • Jack

      Jan 1, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the comment. I will go into a little more depth in the article but I would base your 46* on shots you hit the most – Generally this will be fuller shots for most players, therefore I would install the shaft that matches the rest of your iron setup (if you have been fit for those and enjoy their performance etc.. too).

  3. ht

    Dec 30, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Yeah this is great info. Thank you. Looking forward to the wedge shaft post

  4. Adam

    Dec 30, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Very informative. Thank you

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Whats in the Bag

Dustin Johnson WITB 2020

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 @ 10 degrees, D4 swing weight)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1 inch, 45.75 inches)

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Alpha 90 X

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (22 @ 19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 105 X

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09, 60-10 @ 62 degrees)
Shafts: KBS Tour Custom Black 120 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Mini
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0

Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R (1 wrap 2-way tape + 2 wraps left hand, 3 right hand)

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Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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Equipment

Today from the Forums: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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Today from the Forums we delve into a subject dedicated to wedge fitting. Liquid_A_45 wants to know if wedge fitting is as essential for golfers as iron fitting, and our members weigh into the discussion saying why they feel it is just as imperative.

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.

  • Z1ggy16: “Super important if you’re a serious golfer. Even better if you can get fit outdoors on real grass and even go into a bunker.”
  • ThunderBuzzworth: “The biggest part of wedge fitting is yardage gapping and sole grinds. If you have a grind that doesn’t interact with the turf in your favor, it can be nightmarish around the greens. When hitting them try a variety of short game shots with different face angles etc. with the different grinds to see which one works best for what you need.”
  • Hawkeye77: “Wedge fitting I had was extremely beneficial when I got my SM6s a few years ago. Mostly for working with the different grinds and how they interacted with my swing and on different shots and having an eye on my swing to help with the process and evaluate the results. My ideas of what grinds were right for me based on researching on Titleist, etc. just were not correct in 2/3 of the wedges I ended up with as far as the grinds were concerned. Good to have an experienced fitter available to answer questions, control variables, etc.”
  • cgasucks: “The better you get at this game, the more important wedges are.”

Entire Thread: “The importance of wedge fitting”

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